Truth and Love

I take God very seriously. I also think people matter. I care deeply about truth and love.

By some standards this isn’t a particularly “religious” blog.

For one thing, I keep saying that loving my neighbor and seeing everybody as my neighbor is a good idea. I’ll get back to that.

For another, I write about science each Friday; real science. And I don’t see it as a threat.

I don’t ‘believe in’ science, in the sense that I expect it to replace God. That would be as silly as trying to find life’s meaning in the second law of thermodynamics. It would also be a very bad idea. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2112-2114)

But I do not fear truth and knowledge. For a Catholic, that would be illogical.

“The Whole Truth,” Faith AND Reason

Like I said Friday, faith means willingly and consciously embracing “the whole truth that God has revealed.” (Catechism, 142-150)

That includes truth we find in the natural world’s order and beauty. Appreciating the wonders surrounding us is a good idea. (Catechism, 32, 41, 74, 283, 341, 2500)

Faith isn’t reason: but it’s reasonable, and certainly not against an honest search for truth. (Catechism, 31-35, 159; “Fides et Ratio;” “Gaudium et Spes,” 36)

It’s faith and reason, science and religion. (Catechism, 159, 2293)

This is not a new idea.

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Exodus 33:18; Psalms 27:89; 63:23; John 14:8; 1 John 3:2)….”
(“Fides et Ratio,” Pope Saint John Paul II (September 14, 1998) [emphasis mine])

“…if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God. … we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually opposed….”
(“Gaudium et Spes,” Pope Bl. Paul VI (December 7, 1965) [emphasis mine])

“…God, the Creator and Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures – and that therefore nothing can be proved either by physical science or archaeology which can really contradict the Scriptures. … Even if the difficulty is after all not cleared up and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned; truth cannot contradict truth….”
(“Providentissimus Deus,” Pope Leo XIII (November 18, 1893) [emphasis mine])

“Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air…. They all answer you, ‘Here we are, look; we’re beautiful.’…
“…So in this way they arrived at a knowledge of the god who made things, through the things which he made.”
(Sermon 241, St. Augustine of Hippo (ca. 411))

Loving My Neighbors: All My Neighbors

Again, I think loving my neighbor is a good idea.

It’s not easy, particularly when a neighbor isn’t acting neighborly. But nobody said this was going to be easy.

Nobody who knows much about people, anyway, and that’s another topic.

“He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
“This is the greatest and the first commandment.
“The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.'”
(Matthew 22:3740)

If what Jesus said sounds familiar, it should. The same ideas are in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

“Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
(Leviticus 19:18)

“‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
“Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
(Deuteronomy 6:45)

My neighbor isn’t just the chap with a wheelbarrow across the street, or the folks who moved in on the corner north of me. The parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:3037 makes that pretty clear. (February 1, 2017)

Working Toward a Civilization of Love

Jubilee of Mercy, Rome, from the Vatican, used w/o permission. Philippians 3:20 says “…our citizenship is in heaven….” But sitting around and thinking lovely thoughts about heaven won’t cut it.

I must act as if what I believe matters:

“Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.”
(James 2:2022)

I’m supposed to be a good citizen here in America: contributing “…to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom….” That makes social justice a priority. (Catechism, 1928-1942, 2239)

Social justice starts with respecting the transcendent dignity of everyone. And that starts inside me, with an ongoing “inner conversion.” (Catechism, 1888, 1929)

Our goal is, or should be, building a better world: a civilization of love.

“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,”1 Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))

What’s “Love?”

I can “love” hamburgers, my wife, and God. But those aren’t all the same sort of “love.” They’d better not be.

1 Corinthians 13:46 talks about what one sort of love does, and what it doesn’t do.

You know how it goes: love is patient and kind. Love isn’t jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, self-serving, or quick-tempered. Love doesn’t brood over injury, either; and celebrates truth, not wrongdoing.

I checked the Catechism’s glossary for a definition of “love,” and got this:

LOVE: See Charity.”
(Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

That’s informative, but not very. The “charity” entry says that charity is a virtue:

CHARITY: The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (1822).”
(Glossary, Catechism)

Love and charity, in the Catholic sense, aren’t just feelings. Doing what’s right is easier when emotions are in sync with our reason — but we’re supposed to do what’s right, no matter how we’re feeling.

Feeling angry, for example, happens. Emotions are part of being human. They’re not good or bad by themselves. (Catechism, 1501, 1763-1767)

Thinking is part of being human, too; or should be. Having a good, or bad, feeling about something may mean that it’s good or evil — or not. Either way, I should think before responding. (Catechism, 1765-1770)

And I certainly shouldn’t hang on to anger until it becomes hate. That’s a really bad idea. (Catechism, 1762-1775, 2302-2303)

I can’t love someone and hate the same person. Not at the same time.

I must not hate folks whose actions make my faith look like a psychiatric disorder.

But loving someone doesn’t mean ignoring daft behavior. Imitating their bad attitudes makes even less sense.

God, Love, and the Best News Ever

I don’t know how many “Catholic” blogs are in the “cesspool of hatred” that Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica talked about last year.2

“…’Many of my non-Christian and non-believing friends have remarked to me that we ‘Catholics’ have turned the Internet into a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, all in the name of defending the faith!’ he said….

“…’Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!’ Rosica said….”
(Catholic News Service, via Crux (May 17, 2016))

I have noticed that venom-spitting religious rants, Catholic and otherwise, are fairly easy to find. That’s one reason I started a blogroll of non-ranting Catholics.

Since I think loving my neighbor matters, and that everyone is my neighbor, hating someone isn’t an option. When I notice myself starting to hate someone, my job is removing that hate: not expressing it.

On the other hand, loving my neighbors doesn’t mean pretending that we’re all perfect people. (Catechism, 1778, 240-2449)

I get angry more often than I like, but don’t see much point in ranting. That’s partly because I take love and God seriously.

It’s also because I would much rather share what scientists are learning about this wonder-filled universe we live in, and pass along the best news humanity’s ever had —

God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 1:1214, 3:17; Romans 8:1417; Peter 1:34; Catechism, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

Besides, ranting is — illogical.

“… If Vulcans had a church, they’d be Catholics.” (John C. Wright, (March 21 2008))

More, mostly about love and truth:

1 A civilization of love, background:

2 Venom, vitriol, and online social media:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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5 Responses to Truth and Love

  1. Great post, Brian!
    I’ve added your blog to my blogroll.

  2. And now I feel sobered up even more. Praise and thanks be to God Almighty very much again, then~

Thanks for taking time to comment!