I am sorry to have to put off the 4th instalment of our discussion of Lectio Divina in order to finish the topic of gossip, calumny, rash judgment, and detraction. All things which violate the 8th commandment. I actually read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church last Sunday in all the Masses numbers #2477 and 2478. Number 2479 speaks of the honor and respect naturally due to a person just by the fact that they are creatures of God, and how detraction and calumny destroy that and thus offend the virtues of justice and charity. 2480 speaks of how we collaborate in those sins of others by adulation, flattery, or complaisance, and 2482 defines clearly what lying is. The numbers 2483-2486 talk of the gravity of lying and some of its consequences, then 2487 speaks of the duty of reparation when we have offended justice. Most of these things we have been taught at some point and reading through them reminds us and sharpens us morally where we might have become a little dull.
However, the numbers 2488-2492 speak of “Respect for Truth”. This is most likely an area where we may have never been taught in great detail. 2488 starts by saying that the right to the communication of truth is not unconditional. WHAT?!? That sounds very contradictory to our post modern politically corrected ears. Then it says that, “Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.”
I would go further and say that we need to be very prudent in revealing things that we think others should know, but don’t even ask for. We need to be very honest and demanding on ourselves in deciding if revealing this truth to this person or these people at this time will cause more harm or good. Be willing to seek advice from those more knowledgeable or in a position of authority which this revelation could affect. Then if someone with legitimate authority over me orders me to reveal some truth that in turn has negative consequences: I am no longer morally responsible, unless it is a clear violation of the natural law (4th through 10th commandments).
No one, even a legitimate authority, has the right to order another to blatantly sin. This is the virtue of discretion. 2489 goes on to say that when revealing truths, charity and respect must dictate our response to every request for information. Also, “The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought to be known or for making use of discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal truth to someone who dies not have the right to know it.”
We set a high priority on “transparency” in our modern society without considering consequences of the indiscriminate revelation of truth, which can do more harm than good. The first precept of the natural moral law is, “To do good and avoid evil.” Sometimes the timely revelation of truth is the only way to respect the truth and at the same time not cause a greater evil in revealing it. Discretion sometimes also demands that we reveal the truth in doses so that huge emotional reactions which nearly always cloud good judgment don’t occur.
Please look at these numbers this week, if you don’t have a Catechism, there are some on the table to the right of the vestibule as you enter the church. Please leave a donation in the Lighthouse Stand if you take one. God Bless.