Last week, we talked about how gossip and rumors violate the Eighth Commandment. They distort the truth about people which is hurtful and destroys that person’s dignity. This week, let’s take a look at the virtue of “truth”.
The Eighth Commandment says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It obligates everyone to seek the truth. The virtue of truth is all about sincerity and can be expressed in three ways: sincerity in ourselves, sincerity with others, and sincerity with God. Sincerity with ourselves requires we acknowledge the truth about our own conduct, intentions, thoughts, feelings, and never ignore or fear the truth. Sincerity with others is the ability to speak the truth so others can trust us. If we lack integrity, our word is not reliable. Sincerity with God means God can neither deceive nor be deceived. It requires us to humbly examine our conscience and be honest with Him when confessing our sins. The virtue of the truth is vital to our relationships with others. Whether those relationships are among two people, members of families, within our community, or span across society; truth in speech, writing, or every form of communication and media, truth is what makes trusting human interaction possible.
Miscommunication – especially in the case of a direct lie, evasive language, gossip and rumors, or intentional withholding of the truth – creates mistrust within relationships and sows the seeds of scorn and hatred. True peace, whether between individuals or nations, cannot be reached in an environment of distrust and falsehood. The Eighth Commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth. Offenses against the truth, either by words or actions, show others our refusal to commit ourselves to moral decency. They are fundamental infidelities to God which undermine our relationship with Him – leading us into sin (CCC 2464-2469).
St Francis de Sales said, “Let your words be kindly, frank, sincere, straightforward, and true…remembering…it is never allowable to oppose the truth. Make it your rule never knowingly to say what is not strictly true, either accusing or excusing, always remembering that God is the God of truth.”
God is the source of all truth. His law is truth. May we pray this week for the grace to live the truth.
Adapted from The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2464-2469); and “Introduction to Catholicism”