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Summary: Without truth, our charity degenerates into sentimentalism, and can be totally perverted into its opposite.

Monday of 17th week in Course

July 27, 2009

Caritas in Veritate (3)

Joachim Jeremias taught that the parables about the Church should be read holistically. For instance, Jesus would say, “The kingdom of God is like this situation: you plant the tiniest seed, and without your doing much, it grows into a great bush useful to many creatures.” This gets us away from having to analogize every element of the story. We don’t, for instance, have to answer the question “is the bush the Catholic Church or the Gospel message?” The plan of God to bring His kingdom to maturity is inexorable. And, as the plan unfolds, we have treasures like Caritas in Veritate to meditate on.

The Pope tells us that charity and truth are inseparable. “Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practiced in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.” “Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived.” Truth gives to charity a twin light–the light of reason and the light of faith.

Divorce truth from charity and what charity is left is mere sentimentality. And sense sentiment is unguided emotion, the charity that is left falls prey to any emotion or opinion. I am told that when a new male congressman arrives in Washington, DC, the Planned Parenthood board coopts his wife to get involved in some project for the poor that doesn’t involve contraception or abortion. Then, over a period of months, they move them up the chain until they have been totally coopted for their hideous anti-life agenda. So empathy, unguided, can lead even to complicity in murder. The Pope goes on: “In a culture without truth, [love becoming an empty shell] is the fatal risk. . .the word ‘love’ is abused and distorted to the point where it comes to mean the opposite.” Thus truth frees charity from the constraints of emotionalism.

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