When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. (John 15:26 )
Recently two separate people told me that in a certain circumstance they were facing, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to them, and that in knowing the truth they were able to boldly speak the truth in love and with great confidence. In both cases healing was begun, though not without some pain. My heart quickened at this news and I did not really know why.
On further reflection, it occurs to me that I am drawn to truth precisely because it seems to be so rare in our age. I have had school children lie to me to gain a sticker. It made me sad. Then there are the multitude of gargantuan scandals of the age, such as the recent corruption scandal involving the world soccer body, FIFA. When lies are exposed, especially those of a criminal nature, society is rightfully shocked and outraged.
But what happens when lies masquerade as truth? When good is called evil and evil good? When abortion and embryonic stem-cell research are called health care? What happens then when you speak that truth in love? In a word—martyrdom.
The Holy Father, John Paul II devoted an entire document to Truth. It was an act as profound as it was prophetic. We are in battle. We know that the victory is ours in Christ, but we must also accept that the battlefields will be sprinkled with the blood of martyrs. This should fill us, not with fear, but with great hope. In his Encyclical, The Splendor of Truth, Pope John Paul II tells the Church:
“Finally, martyrdom is an outstanding sign of the holiness of the Church.… This witness makes an extraordinarily valuable contribution to warding off, in civil society and within the ecclesial communities themselves, a headlong plunge into the most dangerous crisis which can afflict man: the confusion between good and evil, which makes it impossible to build up and to preserve the moral order of individuals and communities.” (The Splendor of Truth, Section 93)
This is a prophetic statement that we are living out in our age. You may be thinking, like me, “I don’t mind the martyrdom so much as the pain that may precede it!” In fact, relatively few are called to the martyrdom of St. Stephen or St. John the Baptist. But we are all called to spend our lives in witness, no matter the personal cost. The section continues:
“Although martyrdom represents the high point of the witness to moral truth, and one to which relatively few people are called, there is nonetheless a consistent witness which all Christians must daily be ready to make, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice. Indeed, faced with the many difficulties which fidelity to the moral order can demand, even in the most ordinary circumstances, the Christian is called with the grace of God invoked in prayer, to a sometimes heroic commitment. In this he or she is sustained by the virtue of fortitude, whereby—as Gregory the Great teaches—one can actually “love the difficulties of this world for the sake of eternal rewards.” (Ibid.)
This age has called many to martyrdom, and in the BSP, to the martyrdom of our desires. In living the life of penance we are dying to self for the sake of eternal rewards for ourselves and for those God has given us to pray for. We serve the Truth through prayer and penance. In closing our hearts to our clamoring self we open our hearts to the still small voice of the Spirit of Truth.
The Spirit of Truth is crying out for disciples in this age. Whatever the future holds for us, the Church, and the world, if we enter eternity having loved the Truth more than our own life, the transition will be glorious, and whatever may have preceded the transition will vanish like the mist.
Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.