I read how Pope Benedict says that the truth is hard.
It will always be hard for man to speak the truth and to abide by the truth. That is why he takes refuge in the lie that will make life easier for him. Truth and witness, witness and martyrdom, are very closely associated in this world. Truth, if it is consistently maintained, is always perilous. But only in the measure in which man risks the passion of truth does he become a man.I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Why is truth perilous? Why does it seem to be so hard to accept? It seems to me that truth should be easy to recognize and know and therefore live by (the last part being the hardest). But this is not so. I wasn't really able to find much on why it is hard, so I came up with my own conclusion (which may not be the truth, haha).
In the beginning (in the Garden of Eden) man seemed to know and therefore live in the truth. He didn't sin and everything was how God intended it to be. But then the sneaky devil came along, and told the first lie (You surely will not die). This led to the first sin and from this the devil has been able to twist almost everything good into his lie. I think it’s safe to say that the things in our world have been twisted so much it’s hard to tell even what is truth anymore. Lies have been spread and embedded into so much that we don‘t know what to believe.
What do we do?
First we must acknowledge there can only be one truth. There can only be one right interpretation to reality. Whether it has been revealed to us or not is a different matter; there can only be one truth. How can I say this?
Truth doesn't contradict itself. I feel most will agree to this. Two statements that mean opposite (or contradicting things) can’t both exist if they are both true. One (or both) must be wrong. When truth is found, we call it fact. When facts contradict, something has to be wrong, or one of the “facts” isn't actually the truth. The statement, what is true for you isn't true for me, doesn't make sense! What is really true, is true for all creation, because it is truth and cannot change.
The same is for all truth. Yes, there are many ways of looking at the world. Someone who is blind interprets the world differently than someone who can see just fine. Neither interpretation is “wrong”, the world is still the same world. Therefore, both the experiences of the blind person and the one with sight fit together and do not contradict. Both, in a sense, can be considered truth. But more importantly, biblical truth is more than just our experiences and interpretations. God Himself is the truth.
God is a God of truth. Jesus is the truth and speaks the truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and the word of God is truth (taken from Psalm 31:5, John 14:6, 17 and John 17:17). So knowing what the truth is is very important.
Truth has manifested itself in and through the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church has done a very good job at maintaining the truth (instead of conforming with the times and world) Which is better: saying I believe this but not that OR I know this to be true and that be a lie because the Church proclaims it to be true. Although this is bringing up the authority of the Church I think most would like something else backing up their position. Almost all Christians look to the Bible (and as Catholics, we also have tradition and the Magisterium that proclaim the truth). This is great news! Finally we can have help in figuring out what is truth and what is a lie. But as predicted, truth is still rejected. Could it be that we (as in the general population) are still confused as to what the truth is, or that we know the truth and choose to reject it anyway. I think it may be a lot of both.
Just within the Catholic Church alone there are many misunderstandings of practically everything that is taught. It is a constant effort to teach people the ins and outs of what we believe. I am completely aware of the fact that I still don’t know all the reasons behind what I believe. But the beautiful thing with the Church is, that I don’t have to know why to believe it. It certainly helps, makes sense and makes me a better Catholic (in some sense), but the only important thing is that I know what is truth and accept it. Whether I know why isn't as important. This strikes down both the “not knowing of truth” and “not accepting truth”.
“Forming consciences” is a phrase I hear a lot within the Church. Seminarians and postulants and novices go through “formation”, and one of the goals of the Church is to form consciences. But what are we trying to form our consciences to? The only thing that one should want to form themselves to is the truth. Breaking free of lies and living a true and holy life is very attractive, and it’s something this world cannot offer.
Yes it will be hard, perilous, and will offend many. But the truth is worth it. The truth is what we were meant for and it will set us free.
A good passage to read is John 14:16-27.
(When I quote something by Pope Benedict or talk about “what he said” it’s from the book, “Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI”, edited by Rev. Peter John Cameron)