Truth and love

Truth and love

Chris Hilder

In response to Alan Barron's previous letters (October and Dec- ember-January AD2000) I came across the following view from Fr Michael Himes in his book Doing the Truth in Love which is worth quoting:

"The separation of theology and agapic (i.e., loving) service of others is a variant of what I have come to think is the single most pressing ethical problem in the Christian life, holding together truth and love. I think that virtually every ethical issue that we confront in every area of our lives is in some way a variant of this one great problem. We must never separate truth and love The great moral achievement is to speak the truth lovingly and to love truthfully to do the truth in love."

The necessity to hold the two in unity means that common errors fall into two categories, i.e., emphasising one at the expense of the other. And this generally happens as a result of simplification and reductionism. The great achievement of Catholicism is that it combines the heart and the mind into a unity. Errors occur when this unity is broken.

In my view, the tendency to simplification and reductionism derives in part from a non-acceptance of the human condition. We are fallen creatures and we live in a temporal world. It is a part of our human lot that everything we do has a degree of complexity about it. That means that human communities have to have organisation, structures and laws in order to live together in love.

It also means that knowing the truth requires the use of our intellect for as Aquinas said we do not comprehend the truth by way of direct simple understanding. We have to struggle for the truth and for love. Christ recognised and understood all of this and that is why he left the Church and the sacraments as guarantors and nourishes of truth and love.

Denominational differences are important because it is evidence that we are not one in truth. And disunity over truth will inevitably lead to a distorted conception of love. The Church and the sacraments are the prime means for the work of the Holy Spirit and underrating their importance has serious consequen-ces. God is truth and love, to lose one cannot but lead to the loss of the other and therefore also to the loss of God.

Queanbeyan, NSW

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