Fr. Roy Cimagala
THAT was the question Pilate asked Christ. (cfr Jn 18,38) But Christ already answered that question before it was asked. “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice,” he said.
There we have a clear answer as to what truth is. It’s when we hear the voice of Christ. It’s a voice that is full of charity, understanding and compassion on others, patience and mercy. It’s also a voice that knows how to be strong and implement the requirements of justice.
Truth therefore is not just cold facts that we observe, nor some objective data that we derive from our studies and researches. Much less is it simply a matter of political opinion or some ideological bias or things of that sort. While giving us some aspects of truth, these do not have the last word. And as such, they are incomplete and can easily be manipulated.
That is why right now with everyone trying to say the truth without God, we are practically sinking in an ocean of fake news, hoaxes, disinformation, urban legends, propaganda, inane trivias, superstitions, biased opinions that seek to absolutize the relative and relativize the absolute, etc. As a consequence, we generate a very toxic atmosphere where conflicts, anger and hatred dominate.
We need to adjust our understanding of truth, because very often our understanding of it has nothing to do with any reference to Christ. We have to understand that Christ is the very embodiment of truth because he is the Son of God who is the very pattern of our humanity and the Redeemer who restores our humanity that is damaged by sin.
We have to realize that the fullness of the truth is in Christ, truth in all its dimensions, aspects and levels. Truth is not just something physical or scientific. It does not depend so much on the intensity of the passions with which we affirm it. It is not just social, political or economic. Neither is it simply historical or cultural. Truth, of course, is all these but is still a lot more.
Truth has to enter into the spiritual and supernatural reality to which we are all subject. It has something to do with intentions and motives. And most especially, it by definition involves our duty to love God and to love everybody else. Truth cannot be truth unless is it infused also with the charity that comes from God, the God who is the creator of all things and who governs his creation with his abiding providence.
Thus, we cannot actually be in the truth when we fail to put God in the equation. In fact, to be truthful, God in Christthrough the Holy Spirit has to be at the core of it. He has to be the very principle of truth. Without God, our truthfulness would be at the mercy of our human designs and machinations. We cannot help but distort it. Instead of aiming at the common good, we will simply be interested in our own selfish interests.
And so, we have to understand that to be truthful involves our proper relation with God. It requires authentic piety. With such piety, we will be led to find the truth in charity. Thus, affirming the truth often involves patience, restraint and moderation, willingness to suffer, etc.
The triumph of truth is not triumphalistic!
Making plans and strategies. If we are to be effective in facing the many challenges and opportunities today and in the future, we need to hone our skills at making plans and strategies, both of the short-run and the long-run types.
Especially for the youth of today, this skill is very necessary. We have to help them in developing this skill. We have to rescue them from the state of being just at the mercy of circumstances. They have to be taught how to shape their life by having a clear vision of their goals and means, and instilling in them a sense of direction and purpose.
Sad to say, many times we allow ourselves to drift away and to be carried away by external forces in our environment, leaving us completely at their mercy. We obviously are conditioned by certain elements, both inside and outside us, but we are meant to direct our own lives too, since we are the captains of our own ships.
We need to talk more about this matter, since it is often taken for granted, thinking that the young people would just learn to plan their life one way or another, sooner or later. This may be true to a certain extent, but it certainly is more proper if a deliberate effort be made to teach them to plan and strategize.
This may require a lot of patience and self-discipline, and the learning curve may be very slow at the beginning. But then again if we persist, there is no other way but to succeed. And hopefully we will see in the next generations, youth who are more adept at making good plans and strategies for their life in general and for their daily affairs.
Of course, the most important goal of the plans and strategies is how to relate everything to God. This should be made clear from the start. We have to continually give the youth the reasons and motivations, so that they can be sustained in developing and living this skill.
And then we have to give them concrete ideas as to how to make a practicable plan and strategy. These should involve the whole idea of developing the virtue of order and inculcating the proper sense of priorities. Of course, the inputs of our Christian faith that shows us how things ought to be, are necessary.
We need to look into their attitudes, practices and habits, and see which ones would reinforce this effort and which would hinder it. We have to teach them how to make plans and strategies that are realistic and are organic in the context of their personal circumstances. They have to be plans and strategies that know how to flex with the changing circumstances.
Development has to go through stages arranged in some kind of an inclined plane. In the beginning, they always need to be spoon-fed first. They have to be asked to make some kind of daily schedule, defining their priorities, identifying their needs and resources they can avail of, etc.
Obviously, when dealing with kids, we start with the most elementary and immediate needs that are not, of course, the most important and basic. They need to be directly supervised from always to occasional.
But there has to be a gradual process of letting them get involved into more and bigger responsibilities—their studies, the use of money and other resources, then the development of virtues like order, prudence, temperance, fortitude, etc.