I am asking this question again because it seems that some sources of information that we expect to be objective are not. Is there a criterion for truth that we can actually rely on? It seems like there are so many “takes” on reality.
Let’s take the military as an example. What’s it really all about? I could go to West Point to visit for a day, and then come home and describe what I saw and experienced. Perhaps I would say that the young soldiers seem rigid and stressed out, always forced to stand up straight and polish their shoes. Maybe I would comment on how demeaning and humiliating it seemed that the young plebeians had to stand up at attention whenever an officer walked by and that they can’t speak unless they are spoken to.
Or maybe, just maybe, I would describe the beauty of the Army’s principles, and the heroic generosity and self-sacrifice of the youthful soldiers who were committed to give their lives if necessary so that I may live in freedom. And perhaps the discipline and respect for authority would strike me as valuable means to reach military ideals. So what’s the truth about the military? Or perhaps a one-day visit is not quite enough to make a good judgment…?
On one hand, I believe (going along with Aristotle & friends on this one) that our personal experience can definitely help us discover the truth. Our five God-given senses help us to encounter reality as it is. When I put my hand in a fire, I rely on my senses to tell me that it is true that flames are hot and dangerous!
Healthy and functioning senses are to be believed. Grass really is green, thunder really is loud, roses really are fragrant. These are consistent human sense experiences that offer us some sort of a grip on reality. Of course if our senses don’t work properly (as in the case of color-blindness or hallucinations, for example) they are not reliable sources of truth.
But we do need another measure of truth outside of our subjective selves to seal the deal. “God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His Law is truth.” (CCC 2466). “The law of God entrusted to the Church is taught to the faithful as the way of life and truth.” (CCC 2037) In other words, the measure of reality, of truth, is God, and the Church transmits his truth to us in our everyday lives.
OK…Another example. What’s the truth about my lifestyle as a consecrated woman in Regnum Christi? In the end, I am left with my two criteria: personal experience, and the Church. My experience after 12 years tells me that this is a group of sincere and balanced women who have one love: Jesus Christ, and one desire: to see him glorified through the salvation of souls. What if my experience could be wrong, though (blinded or obscured in some way)? Then I need to definitely move on to the second criteria – the Church.
The Church has told me, and is still telling me, that this is a valid and legitimate path to personal holiness and apostolic outreach. And here my judgment must stop. Christ, through his Church, is telling me what he thinks of my life in Regnum Christi. It is good. Not perfect, no. In need of revision, yes (which is why the Vatican is in the process of a review of our Movement). But essentially good. And that is the Truth I believe.