"Truth and Fake News"
May 10, 2023, 6:00 AM


If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … And [God] will give you… the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. John 14:15-17

St. Francis certainly had less information about the world than we do today. Without a cell phone, Internet access, Wi-Fi, cable news, he was nevertheless able to witness the Spirit of Truth in God. He found that the Spirit of Truth was located in creation, and not solely in an unfathomable heaven.

A bronze statue of St. Francis sits near his tomb, and bears witness to his posture as he seeks the Spirit of Truth. St. Francis is kneeling and not looking upward as usual, but gazing fervently downward into the earth where the Spirit is enmeshed within the earth. He embraced the message that the Spirit of Truth had already descended, and is present in the here and now.

Following the Truth of God’s Spirit was a clearly demarcated path for St. Francis. So, why do we today struggle with knowing what is true and what is not?

As we listen to information from so many secular sources, we become overwhelmed and lose our bearings and grounding. We mistake opinions for facts and process our thoughts again and again, each time trying to find out what is “true” and what is “fake.” After a while, instead of listening to God, we create our own set of beliefs which we elevate to the level of “truth” and relegate what we consider “fake news” to others.

As a culture we have been attempting to “think” our way into knowing the truth. We stay in our heads. The consequence of using a solo cognitive approach is that we have grown tired of figuring out what is true and what is fake. There seems to be no absolute basis for making any statement that rings true, and we are fatigued.

It is at this point that St. Francis gives us hope of finding truth. It is in the quietness of nature and in the joining of his soul with the rest of creation that St. Francis became one with God. Truth can uproot our assumptions about life and about what is real. As an example, the authorities told St. Francis that lepers were sinful, dangerous, and to be avoided. However, that was really “fake” news. The truth was that lepers could be kissed and embraced, as St. Francis showed, since everyone is a child of God’s love.

The voice of truth comes from the mouth of God. it comes to all of us as a still small voice in the center of our being. Truth is not found in the loud information overload that each of us experience everyday and are trying to avoid. Looking for the truth by working harder or multi-tasking never allows us to find the answer. Such efforts simply keep our minds going, and going, and going. Even an Energizer Bunny cannot keep up.

Truth is hard to find. It is found only in silence with God. If you are having trouble figuring out what is true and what is fake in your life, stop thinking. Give in to silence. Learn to contemplate and stay present with God.

Blessings and Prayers,

Fr. John