June 28, 2012

The Truth Is What the Heart Needs

St. Irenaeus believed that the vision of God is the life of man.  This is because God is truth and man is made for the truth.  When we try to live by anything else, we do not flourish.  Only the truth sets free the full potential of the heart.  The truth is what the heart needs.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains that the truth is what is - that we only know anything at all when the mind is conformed with reality.   Sacred doctrine renews the mind with the saving truth about God and ourselves and the wonderful things He has done for us.   When we study it, it raises our whole being so that we might thrive and live life to the full.   The Angelic Doctor knows that the Lord have created the human heart for truth, especially the saving truth, and that we thrive only when we know and live by the truth.   The Fortnight for Freedom is all about the truth - without the truth about our humanity and human society true freedom is at great risk.

Today, most people believe the truth is limited to what they can prove by observation or produce by their efforts.   But this so called truth is not enough for the human heart.  The truth that allows us to thrive is not made or produced, it is discovered.  This because reality is much bigger than what is within our power to prove or manipulate.  The truth is what is - and what actually is is much more wonderful than our own achievements or any hypothesis based on what we think we perceive.

This is why truth alludes the grasp of the powerful but entrusts itself to the humble.  The powerful are often seduced by their own ability to achieve and they constantly rely on their cleverness to manipulate circumstances so that they do not have to accept reality for what it is. Pope Benedict explained on Wednesday, "Human logic, however, often seeks self-realization in power, dominion, in powerful means. Man still wants to build the tower of Babel on his own to reach the heights of God himself to be like God."

There are some who think that the truth is manufactured - that if you have the power and the perseverance to convince others that something is true simply by assertion and manipulation, the fact that others have been convinced makes it true.  Political and cultural powers have a tendency to propose and promote unjust laws under this rubric.  Only a calculated myth can demand what is not really owed and only by way of a clever narrative can not respecting basic human rights be rationalized.  Without the truth, the heart is vulnerable to the tyranny of mere myth and narrative.

Truth cannot be manufactured by human cleverness and it never admits of being used as a tool for manipulation. A contrived narrative might appeal to the imagination, but it is always restricting, always smaller than reality. If we do not know what is but entertain only a caricature of reality, we do not really know anything worth knowing at all. The truth, on the contrary, that waits to be discovered. To know the truth is to see reality for what it is as it is -- this is freeing and this is what living faith helps us glimpse.

The humble, those who accept the truth about themselves, are receptive to the truth.  By accepting the truth about themselves, they can receive the truth about God, His love, the world and God's desire to save.  Furthermore, their humble posture towards themselves and reality also disposes them to desire the truth - because they are oriented not to strive for what is merely useful but to behold the splendor of the world around them.   Such souls are open to what can disclose itself to the natural power of reason.  They are also disposed to what God discloses by the light of faith.

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