by Roy Peachey

Before I became a Catholic, I revelled in grey areas. I liked fuzziness. That is to say, I liked fuzziness when it came to religion because religious vagueness really got me off the hook. If I didn’t know what God was like or what he wanted from me then I could get on with life and never have to change my behaviour at all.

But I soon discovered that the Catholic faith is not vague. It claims that God had spoken in history and, what’s more, that he continues to guide the Church today. In a word, the Church claims that there is something called truth and that we can know what it is. The central question for Catholics is not “How does this idea make me feel?” but “Is this idea true?” And that causes all sorts of difficulties for anyone who likes fuzziness. If an idea is true, we can’t simply ignore it: we have to change our lives in response to it.

St John wrote a great deal about truth in his Gospel. One of the most inspiring of these comments came when Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8: 31-32) The truth will make you free. We can be scared by the truth, but the truth of the matter is that if we search for the truth and live according to what is true then we will be truly free. Free to be ourselves. Free to be who God always wanted us to be.

So how do we discover the truth? First and foremost, we find the truth in Jesus Christ. At the heart of our Faith is a person, not an idea. A person who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14: 6) If we follow Christ, we will, by definition, immerse ourselves in the truth.

However, we also need to understand Jesus more and more and that is where the Church helps us. Towards the end of his time on earth, Jesus told his disciples: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14)

The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth – leads the Church into the truth. He does this in all sorts of ways. We can, for example, look at the clear statements of belief which the Church has drawn up. Each week in church we say the Nicene Creed. Creeds are short statements of belief. They don’t spell out every truth but they do home in on the essential truths of the Faith. In addition to the creeds, the Church has also produced various catechisms over the years in order to teach the Faith. These documents are longer than the creeds and traditionally take a Question and Answer format. The Catechism of the Catholic Church that we use today was published in the early 1990s at the request of Pope John Paul II.

The technical term for the official teaching authority of the Church is the Magisterium. What this means in essence is that the Church doesn’t leave us to wallow in fuzziness. It helps us find and live the truth, through creeds and catechisms, through the teaching of popes and general councils. The truth is out there, as one popular TV series used to declare. It really is and it is always found in God himself.

The Creed

The Sacraments



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