Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew Greenwell, Esq.

12/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are invited to exericse our freedom by choosing what is ture and what is good

We have a moral duty to move towards the truth. This recognizes that we have a duty to conform ourselves to reality.The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church recognizes the importance of replanting the notion of objective truth in the mass of men.

Highlights

By Andrew Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/20/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Truth, social teaching, Andrew Greenwell, freedom, social justice, social doctrine, virtue, morality


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - In addition to the four fundamental principles of the Church's social doctrine which we have reviewed in prior articles--the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity (and participation), and solidarity--there are also four fundamental moral values that ought to inspire and guide the entire enterprise of social life: truth, freedom, justice, and love.  In this article, we will review the moral value of truth and its significance in social life from the perspective of the Church's social doctrine.  Later articles will handle the other values.

"Men and women have the specific duty to move always towards the truth, to respect it, and bear responsible witness to it." (Compendium, No. 198)  "Suffer us not," wrote T. S. Eliot in his poem "Ash Wednesday," "to mock ourselves with falsehood."

We have a moral duty to move towards the truth.  This recognizes that we have a duty to conform ourselves to reality, to what is, as truth is our conformity--whether it be our intellect or our life--to reality.  Veritas, goes the philosophic axiom, est adaequatio intellectus et rei: truth is the conformity of our intellect with reality. 

We might go further than this and say that the value of truth is the conformity of one's entire life, including one's social life, to reality, to what is.  Veritas est adaequatio vitae et rei.  Truth is the beacon toward which we aim personally and in our social relations. 

The value of truth is important to apply in our life in common, in our social life.  "The more people and social groups strive to resolve social problems according to truth, the more they distance themselves from abuses and act in accordance with the objective demands of morality." (Compendium, No. 198)  We cannot build a society on a mock truth, on a non-committal shrug of the shoulders to truth. Nor can we build a society on a mock question like Pontius Pilate's question, "What is truth?" and then not stay for an answer or supply an answer of our own.

To be sure, the quest for truth is not easy.  "Falsehood is so easy," George Eliot pseudonymously wrote in her book Adam Bede, "truth so difficult."  And with the poet Virgil, we can recall the reality that it is either to descend to the falsehoods of Averno, than to climb to the summit of truth:  Facilis descensus Averno.

But the difficulty of the quest ought not to discourage us: veritas Christi urget nos.  The truth of Christ urges us on. "I hate and abhor falsehood," the Psalmist wrote in words surely uttered by Christ in his lifetime, "but your law do I love." (Psalm 119 [118]:163)

This suggestion that we are to "move always" to the truth suggests that this duty is never over.  In a certain sense we are becoming in the truth.  Only one person can say "I am the truth, the way, and the life," (John 14:6) and even He, in his humanity, "grew in wisdom and statute, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52).

We can therefore say that, while there is no gradualism in the truth, there is gradualism in our acquisition or comprehension of the truth.  Our getting to the truth is subject to the law of gradualism.  This is just part of the human condition.

Truth's demand is that one's entire life must be engaged in the desire to have greater conformity with reality.  We must, in the words of Shakespeare in his play The Rape of Lucrece, continue to "unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light."  While on this earth we are on pilgrimage to the truth, and we must be willing to discard those mental notions, though we may hold them dear, when we learn that we have held them in error.  We must, further, learn to take up truths when we come to recognize them, as difficult and as inconvenient as they may seem.

While the striving for truth is never over, we must not despair that truth is something entirely unachievable.  Though in one sense we are always striving for truth, yet in another we can also say that we have a hold on some truths.  This is particularly true with respect to the truths of the Faith.

The notion of truth entertained by the Church is that it is an objective reality.  Truth is not what we make of it.  Intellectual subjectivism or moral relativism is out of the question.  Truth is not the modernist notion of adaequatio realis mentis et vitae, only the conformity of our life with the truth in our mind. 

The value of truth is not internal integrity or sincerity, though the value of truth certainly does not oppose these.  But fundamentally, truth implies something objective, something which masters us and which we never master; hence, it is something that can make moral demands of us.  The "truth" in "our mind" must conform to the truth "out there."

Those truths we have, and their adoption tried, we must grapple them to our souls with hoops of steel to paraphrase and slightly modify Shakespeare.  But we must do more than grapple truth to our souls.  Truth must be preached from the housetops. (Matt. 10:27)  We also have a duty to bear responsible witness to the truth.  That means that our words must be true to truth.

"Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no,'" the Lord tells us. (Matt. 5:37)  With respect to truth, there ought to be less maybes, and our "yes" must never be "no," and our "no" must never be "yes."  Our words ought to conform to the truth.  Or as Aristotle in his Metaphysics put it: "To say of what is, that it is, or of what is not, that it is not, is true."

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church recognizes the importance of replanting the notion of objective truth in the mass of men.  Wallowing in the slough of relativism, we seem unable--not unlike the mastodons and saber tooth cats of old in the La Brea Tar Pits--to extricate ourselves from the ooze in which we slowly sink.

Modern times call for an intense educational effort, and a corresponding commitment on the part of all regarding the quest for truth--which cannot be ascribed to the sum of different opinions, nor to one or another of these opinions--will be encouraged in every sector and will prevail over every attempt to make relative its demands or to offend against it.

There are powers that work against the propagation of the truth, and that have a vested interest in promoting falsehood.  We are heirs to a tendentious media and other institutions of communication, entertainment, commerce, and other human intercourse--that are too often founded upon the desire for gain, an "unscrupulous use of money" or profit, rather than a concern with the truth. (Compendium, No. 198)

As T. S. Eliot reminds us in his work Christianity and Culture, Christians face an uphill battle.  We are compromised by our implication in a network of secular, even un-Christian institutions which seek to de-Christianize society and pressure us unawares into a practical atheism.  "Paganism," Eliot avers, and not just paganism, but a neo-Paganism much more hostile to Christian truths, "holds all the most valuable advertising space."

The truth is important not only for its own sake, but also for what we gain from it: "Ye shall know the truth," said the Lord Christ, "and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31)  We can say of Truth what John Donne said of the Trinity in his Sonnet "Batter my Heart, Three Person'd God": "Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free."

This takes us to the next value identified in the Compendium, the value of freedom which is closely aligned with the value of truth.  This we shall handle in our next article.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law, called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Living Faith

St Francis DeSales Challenges Us to Live a Life of True Devotion Watch

Image of Today in our Liturgical calendar in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we remember St Francis DeSales (1567-1610). The Saints are all given as examples to emulate. They are our companions on the journey, men and women like us who responded to God's invitation to become like Jesus. They pray for us because we are joined with them in the eternal communion of love. They also put legs on the Gospel, showing us what holiness looks like.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of ... continue reading


Hey Main Stream Media - Do Your Job! Media Bias on March for Life Watch

Image of The hundreds of thousands who gatherred in Washington, DC were virtually ignored by the mainstream media because they gave a voice to children in the womb intentionally killed by procured abortion

By Catherine Contreras

What do you get when over 500,000 people attend the March for Life in Washington DC? Yup. A biased main stream media barely covering it, again. OAKLAND, CA (Catholic Online) - On the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in ... continue reading


Arlington Diocesan teachers provide English Language Learners with special support Watch

Image of Fourth-grade students work on personalized language arts activities at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington. (Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald)

By Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald

Step into Sarah Conrad's pre-kindergarten classroom at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington and you'll see the usual suspects: tiny furniture, storybooks, brightly colored posters and educational toys. But you'll also notice that laminated labels abound. ... continue reading


'Self righteousness is not going to change peoples' attitudes and save babies,' Cardinal says Watch

Image of Cardinal Sean O'Malley says that the abortion issue in the United States is a call for those of all faiths to action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In delivering his homily at the March for Life vigil in Washington D.C., Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that indifference is the "greatest enemy" of the pro-life movement, adding that "to change people's hearts we must love them." Speaking at the Basilica of the ... continue reading


Eighth Annual Stand Up 4 Life Rally|Walk in Oakland, California! Watch

Image of Walk for Life in California

By Catherine Contreras

"If Black lives matter, they have to matter in the womb first. Because if Black lives don't matter in the womb, they don't matter anywhere else. So join us and help us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." - Walter B. Hoye II, Founder and President of ... continue reading


Papal Nuncio to Join Walk for Life West Coast! Watch

Image of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigaṇ

By Catherine Contreras

The Walk for Life West Coast is honored to announce that Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², the Holy Father's Ambassador to the United States, will be attending the 11th Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, on January 24, 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Build a Culture of Life! A Rally Cry Was Heard In Los Angeles!

Image of Pro-lifers marched in One Life LA on January 17, 2015.

By Catherine Contreras

 A Rally Cry Was Heard in Los Angeles, California, "Build a Culture of Life! A Culture That Loves Life and That Defends Life!" The Mission of OneLifeLA is to unite communities and inspire positive action through an annual event that promotes the beauty and ... continue reading


Catholics fail to practice 'responsible parenthood' when they have too many children, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis recently praised Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception. At the same time, "this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another," the Pope added. In fact, Catholics fail to practice "responsible ... continue reading


Pope Francis confirms stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia in upcoming U.S. visit Watch

Image of The papal itinerary remains in the planning stages. Organizers are already talking about appearances at the White House, the United Nations and Ground Zero, and even a Mass at Madison Square Garden.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has confirmed that his trip to the United States this fall will include stops in Washington, D.C. and New York City, in addition to Philadelphia. Francis told the press that he wishes he could enter the U.S. through the Mexican border "as a sign of ... continue reading


Announcing Ignatius Press books at Catholic Shopping .com - Start your Catholic library today!

Image of Catholic Shopping .com is proud to announce, that we are now carrying a wide selection of Ignatius Press's most popular books.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Discriminating Catholic readers will be excited to know Catholic Shopping .com now carries a wide selection of the best books from Ignatius Press. LOS ANGELES, CA - The story of Ignatius Press is one that began over thirty years ago, and a story that has not ended ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
15 This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:22-30
22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 26th, 2015 Image

St. Timothy
January 26: Born at Lystra, Lycaenia, Timothy was the son of a Greek father ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter