The first way we can help people come to knowledge of the truth is to invite them to live in accord with the objective moral law, or natural law, something that applies to all of us. I know it is a popular conceit of our time to think that there’s a buffet of moralities from we are free to choose (or entirely forgo), that there is no objective truth. Yet deep down we know that is not the case. “The existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition ‘Truth does not exist’ is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth” (St. Thomas Aquinas). So objectivity guides our choices; we make comparisons against a standard.
Think of the natural law in this way: all animals, including us, have inclinations that innately incline us to seek food, to reproduce, and to remain in existence. Now we humans have special additional inclinations to seek love, truth, meaning, and God. As Aristotle states, “All men by nature desire to know.” These special additional inclinations represent the first step in understanding the natural law. We humans pursue both sets of inclinations coextensively; we are free to follow or not follow the baser inclinations, yet make such choices in harmony with the higher inclinations that lead to our true fulfillment. That’s what it means for us to live morally: we are to live in a way that is harmonious with our nature and the various inclinations that arise from that nature. This is all made clearer in light of Christ. "Christ…shows us what it truly means to be human. Christ’s love for us lets us see our human dignity in full clarity and compels us to love our neighbors as he has loved us. Christ…shows us what is true and good, that is, what is in accord with our human nature as free, intelligent beings created in God’s image and likeness and endowed by the Creator with dignity and rights as well as duties” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, article 9).
Thus our second way of helping people come to knowledge of the truth is to propose to them Christ, the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Christ is the sole Savior of the world, the One who desires to bring the human family to glory. The Church that Christ founded is the vehicle by which we journey to this glory. It is our privileged duty to give witness to the transformative power that flows through the Church to aid us in becoming more and more Christ-like, made fit for such glory.
Our calling as Catholics is a high and challenging one. When we take our faith seriously and allow ourselves to be shaped by its beliefs and practices, we should then share the fruits of that unfolding experience with others, so that they might come to knowledge of the truth, and benefit as we are benefiting. I know my two suggestions for inviting others to this adventure are discomforting because of the prevailing culture; and I know “people [only] receive what they are prepared to receive” (Aquinas), but such is our duty. If we don’t do it, who will? God has placed us in this time; what are we doing while in it?
David J. Conrad