Ideas that Matter: Truth

From Cardinal Ratzinger's Salt of the Earth...

In the course of my intellectual life I experienced very acutely the problem of whether it isn't actually presumptuous to say that we can know the truth - in the face of all our limitations. I also asked myself to what extent it might not be better to suppress this category. In pursuing this question, however, I was able to observe and also to grasp that relinquishing truth doesn't solve anything but, on the contrary, leads to the tyranny of caprice. In that case, the only thing that can remain is really what we decide on and can replace at will. Man is degraded if he can't know truth, if everything, in the final analysis, is just the product of an individual or collective decision.

In this way it became clear to me how important it is that we don't lose the concept of truth, in spite of the menaces and perils that it doubtless carries with it. It has to remain as a central category. As a demand on us that doesn't give us rights but requires, on the contrary, our humility and our obedience and can lead us to the common path.

From Sertilanges On the Intellectual Life ...

Everything that instructs us leads to God on a hidden byway. Every authentic truth is in itself eternal, and its quality of eternity turns us towards the eternity of which it is the revelation. Through nature and the soul, where can we go if not towards their origin? If one does not get there, it is because one has gone off the path. At one bound the inspired and right mind goes beyond intermediaries, and to every question that arises within it, whatever particular answers it may make, a secret voice says: God!

Therefore, we have only to leave the mind on the one hand to its upward flight, on the other to its attention, and there will be set up, between the object of a particular study and the object of religious contemplation, an alternating movement which will profit both. With a rapid and often unconscious impulse, we pass from the trace or the image to God, and then, coming back with new vigor and strength, we retrace the footsteps of the divine Walker. We now find things have a deeper meaning, are magnified; we see in them an episode of an immense spiritual happening. Even while we busy ourselves with some trifling thing, we feel ourselves dependent on truths in comparison with which the mountains are ephemeral; infinite Being and infinite duration enfold us, and our study is in very truth, "a study of eternity." (pgs. 32-33)