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The Life of Virtue - Truth

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Veritas or truth is one of the mottos of the Order of Preachers and one which goes to the very heart of our mission and to the heart of what it means to be a Christian. The truth, though often expressed in many and varied ways, is one, for truth not only has God as its source but, as Aquinas states, God ‘is truth itself, the supreme First Truth’. If then we understand God to be Truth and the source of truth we must see His Son, Jesus Christ, as the full manifestation of that truth. As Christ himself declared before Pilate “for this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Elsewhere in John we are reminded that we are to live by his truth and that ultimately this truth is to be found in His word, “if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

As Christians we are duty bound to follow and to seek the truth and we are truly fortunate insofar as we have Christ’s Body, the Church, to lead us and guide us on this journey. However, this does not mean that we can rest on our laurels and expect others to do all the work for us. We must each take responsibility for seeking the truth in our own lives and for providing a credible witness to the truth for others. In the Summa theologiae, Aquinas reminds us that we must be careful to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and that in expressing the truth we find we must seek a balance between boasting and understatement if we are to cultivate truth as a virtue. Truthfulness in our daily lives is essential if we are to point to and to realise that ultimate truth we naturally seek. We rely on each others' truthfulness and, as Aquinas again states, we are honour bound to express it. As such truth resembles justice and is allied to it – without truthfulness we simply could not live with each other let alone hope to seek and follow the ultimate truth that is the Word made flesh. It is clear then that love and truth must underpin our thoughts, words and deeds. As St Paul tells us, by “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Graham Hunt OP


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