Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Light of Truth; the Disorientation of Relativism

Not long after I rediscovered my faith a year ago, one thing God wanted to get straight with me was that everything was not relative, as I had believed.

The cardinals were just heading into the Conclave and Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, had given his sermon as they embarked on this most important task of selecting a new pontiff. Something struck me and I could not get away from the words, "The dictatorship of relativism". I was a news junky and I turned on the TV and heard it. Later, I turned on the radio and the words jumped out at me. I opened my once beloved daily newspaper - ditto. Finally, God convinced me to ponder relativism. I looked it up in the dictionary, and suddenly got a sinking feeling inside of me when I read:


A theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.

I began to meditate on it and finally asked God for some help - and help He did give. Ask, and you shall receive. In a very short period of time, God turned on the light and with that, came an analogy that Truth is like North, where the compass needle points. It was this passage from Hebrews which jumped started me. I remember all of this because this reading comes up frequently in the Liturgy of the Hours on certain feast days.

Hebrews 13: 8-9

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.

The Compass of Truth (c 2006)

Jesus is Truth!

And, Truth is North
where the compass needle points.

I cannot travel in any other direction
and call it "north"
by bending the compass needle
to a direction which suits me.
Only self-deception
would attempt such a thing.

Truth is static, or unmoving;
it is never dynamic, or moving.

Truth is either black or white
but never shades of gray.

Jesus did not say the road
would be broad and easy!
He said it would be narrow
and difficult!!!

Thus it is easy
to bend the compass needle
making "north" wherever I please.
and difficult to follow
the compass needle where it is fixed.

To follow Jesus
is to follow Truth
not a movable "truth"
but a fixed Truth -
a Truth that is the same yesterday
today, and tomorrow.

Therefore, do not be led astray
by all sorts of strange teachings!

All this having been said, I now found guilt building as I looked at my life. I began to feel like a crippled ship, adrift in an ocean, in need of safe harbor. As I went to sleep one night, I asked God for his help one more time, and on May 15, 2006, I came into a port teaming with repair specialists. As I walked in the doors of Assumption Grotto, it was shocking at first. It was as if I had stepped back in time, and I almost turned away. But, something inside of me "suggested" I just suspend my judgment and stay a while.

One of the first things I noticed, having gotten there early, were 4 confessionals running, and all with lines of 5-7 people, and some waiting in the pews. I had gone to confession the day Pope John Paul II died, but it had been 2 years before that. With my sudden discovery of having led a relativistic life not long after, my closet felt deeply in need of emptying again. Those confession lines made the sacrament inviting as I underwent a significant purging over the next 3-4 months. With my compass fixed now, many of my past misdeeds became very clear and God graced me with the desire to acknowledge these things through reconciliation and penance.

The Lord was so merciful when he instituted this sacrament. Use it, and use it frequently. The graces that come to you will draw you into the kind of humility necessary for deep interior change. I am fortunate to be in a parish where priests (the repair specialists) encourage frequent confession, even if there is no serious sin.

CCC 1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful.

People respond to a priest in a confessional. I know, I am one of them!!!