Spirituality for Today – June 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 11

The Truth of the Matter

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a Church window.

With right hand raised purposely, the witness swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with the help of God. In an age of moral relativism, the idea of truth suffers from a vagueness and ambiguity extreme enough as to deny the concept altogether. In the face of this chaotic cultural tendency stands the Catholic Church within which the proclamation of the revealed Truth of God is fundamental. Thus, as so often in the past, the Church must tangle with the contentious nature of mankind. The temptation that beguiled men and women from Genesis to today was the claim that the human being had the right to be like God or, more precisely, to be God. Among the divine attributes purloined by humankind was to become the arbiter of all truth. If each individual defines truth for himself, there cannot be truth. In the absence of a transcendent source of absolute truth, the notion of truth is relegated to the variability of the human mind. No wonder that so many people feel such insecurity in daily living and labor under a numbing depression with every dawning.

Everything that we can think as an alternative to what God has revealed has already been tried at some time or other. What we call "multi-culturalism" today frequently means that all those "alternatives" to Catholicism are equally good. We are left with no criterion with which to judge them once we have rejected revelation and the grounds for its truth. Often, what is behind demands for "changes" in the Church is precisely this relativism, which wants the Church to tone down or transform its deposit of truth into what men have proposed. We are told that it does not matter what we believe or do; that we all have a "right" to define our own happiness; that that we all have the same destiny no matter what we do or think, because there is no "final" judgment. Catholics would hold, on the contrary, that it is a sign of humility to acknowledge that God's truth is better for men than any "truth" concocted by man.

Father James J. Shall, S.J.
On 'Changing' Catholicism, Columbia, June 2015

Sooner or later our age will run into itself; it will be unable to sustain its desultory state. Some generation, imminent or far, will seek to live in the light of God's truth and to bring an impulse toward virtue to its culture. It would be a mistake, however, for us to sit on our hands, as it were, and wait. Each individual currently living a devout and God-centered life might become a foundation stone for a future glory. Every effort must be made to witness one's faith in a manner that magnifies the choice for love and the loathing for sin. Our times require an experiential religious education. Let people, especially persons ignorant of religious dogma and mores, find evidence of a lived religious faith within the environment of their daily life.

One necessary focus point is the reality and effect of sin on one's soul. This topic has been pushed aside for too long and is a factor in the current "death of conscience" attitude of too many people today. Feeling authentic sorrow and contrition for those acts of will that harm a loving response to the interactions within human relationships introduces a concern for the formation of a moral discipline and a sound conscience. The Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, the body of truths in the teachings of Our Lord, the Great Commandment of love, and all the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the centuries makes the People of God the world's enduring hope. It has been said, "Truth is too important to be new." This statement is one indication of how much importance consistently has been placed on Church tradition and how that truth of Christ has been applied to the questions and demands of global cultures throughout the centuries. The truth of the matter always has been the challenge of how to teach and to express the love of God and of neighbor and of self to a hungry world.