Truth

“I fear that for many, arguments in favor of the claims of Catholicism have not been tried and found wanting; they have been found inconvenient and left ignored.

And yet, this is a curious thing since every human being intrinsically desires the truth; that is to say, they wish to conform their minds to reality in order to live in the real world. No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be on the receiving end of lies and deceptions. No one loves to be lied to. Nobody craves delusion. We naturally desire to live in “the real world” preferring the real and the true to the fake and the false. No woman seeks a lying husband, and no employer is looking for dishonest employees. If there are objectively-binding traffic laws then naturally we want to know what they are (imagine a world where “your traffic laws are your traffic laws, and mine are mine”).

By knowing how things really are, we can act and react to them as they really are. We desire truth because we desire to live in the real world. We are, after all, what Aristotle called “rational animals.”

Our desire for truth stems from our desire to act rationally. Therefore the desire for truth is a deeply human thing. In the words of philosopher Robert Sokolowski, the desire for truth (or what he calls veracity) “is very deep in us, more basic than any particular desire or emotion…We are made human by it, and it is there in us to be developed well or badly.”

Seeking Truth

As humans we cannot choose whether or not to desire truth; that is inherent in our nature as humans. We can, on the other hand, choose whether we are going to act on—and cultivate—that desire.

St. Augustine understood the human person’s innate desire to know the truth of things. In his Confessions he reflected that he had “met many who wanted to deceive, but none who wanted to be deceived.” And can’t we confirm this truth about human nature by looking inside of ourselves?

Our interior experience confirms that, in the long run, we want the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Why?

Because truth leads to order; and as Augustine observed in The City of God, peace is the tranquility of order. So truth leads to order, order to peace, and ultimately, peace to happiness. In other words: truth fosters happiness. So if happiness matters then truth matters; and we have no good reason to doubt that happiness matters to all people. Aristotle, reflecting on “the highest of all goods achievable by action” observed that “the general run of men….say that it is happiness, and identify living well and faring well with being happy.”

But you cannot live well and fare well if you are not planning and living out your life in accordance with reality.

Insanity is not the way to real, lasting happiness.

What then if Catholicism is true?

What if being a devout believer really can lead to greater sanity and greater happiness—or even the greatest sanity and happiness?

The Catholic faith does not just offer a more complete vision of reality. The central promise of the Catholic faith is the everlasting fulfillment of all of our desires through union with God.

God promises—on the Catholic view—to prepare us in this life for the fulfillment of all our desires in the next. In other words, Catholicism offers a way—the Way—to everlasting happiness. For God promises to fill and complete us, to make us like him or what the New Testament calls “partakers of the divine nature.”

In other words, God wants to bring to fulfillment what it means to be made “in the image and likeness of God,” and He wants to do it in the fullest and most complete sense. And that is why we can agree with Pascal that to be saved by God and enter into eternal life in Christ is to “win everything.”

Some may reel at such incredible claims, thinking it rather arrogant for the Catholic Church to position itself as the “pillar and foundation of truth” and the one religion through which people can best realize happiness in this life and total fulfillment in the next.

What a claim!”

Love & truth,
Matthew

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