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What is Truth?

What is Truth? In the Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon defines “truth” as “conformity of the mind and reality.” He defines “reality” as “That which exists objectively and independently of the mind, as opposed to the unreal, which is purely subjective or fanciful. Reality is that to which the mind conforms when it possesses truth.” Once, a co-worker said to me, jokingly, “I’m an eighteen year-old trapped inside the body of a forty year-old.” He knew the truth: he was forty, not eighteen, no matter how much he might think he was eighteen, or wish it were so.

Increasingly, we are confronted by those who believe that each person’s free will determines for that individual what is morally good or bad. This is called “voluntarism.” According to Msgr. Charles Pope, “Voluntarism is the view that the will overrules the intellect, and that truth is something that is asserted rather than discovered by the intellect and proposed to the will for obedience. Voluntarism holds that something is true because one says it’s true.”

Fr. Vincent Miceli, in a 1982 essay titled “The Taproot of Violence,” associates voluntarism with “hatred of the truth.” He writes: “Hatred of truth is the result of the creature’s attempt to rearrange God’s hierarchy of beings and values into an order which the creature prefers to the plan of God. This attempt immediately produces the violence of disorder, the chaos of falsity and immorality.”

One of the results of voluntarism taking hold in our culture is a tendency to refuse to define, or to re-define, words. For example, in the Roe v. Wade opinion of 1973, Justice Blackmun wrote “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins…” When Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Jackson was asked in 2022 “When does human life begin?”  She responded, “I don’t know.”  The Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, was wonderful as far as it went, but the Court did not define the unborn human being as a “person,” protected by the Fifth Amendment, which says “No person shall be… deprived of life… without due process of law…”

This subordination of truth to will extends to other areas: The legal definition of marriage has been changed. Those with the reproductive system of one sex can “identify” as one of the opposite sex. A basic economic axiom is that “You can’t indefinitely spend more that you take in.” Yet, we continue to elect leaders who seem to believe that “will overrules the intellect” as they continue to increase spending and take us deeper in debt. They ignore the warning given by President Eisenhower in his 1961 Farewell Address: “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss of their political and spiritual heritage.”

This denial of objective truth puts our entire nation at risk. Our second President, John Adams, said that “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our obligation is to live virtuous lives, and to repent and amend our lives when we fail to do so: to live the truth. We are to “love our neighbor.” We do that when we live, act, and charitably speak, the truth. We need to understand our faith, live our faith, pray our faith, share our faith and expect to suffer, heeding Jesus’ words: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

If we live by God’s laws, individually and as a culture, we will find a basic happiness (fulfillment) and contentment in this life, and life everlasting in the next. “What is Truth?” Jesus told us: “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

We volunteers hope St. Michael Broadcasting helps all of us to know and live the truth. Please support the station by telling others, praying for its success, offering to volunteer, or through a financial contribution if possible. If you would like to contribute, but are not able, please offer up that suffering for the station!

A blessed New Year to all!


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