The Inseparability of Love and Truth

On Friday, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ first Encyclical Letter, Lumen Fidei (the Light of Truth). The encyclical incorporates a document Pope Benedict had been working on in connection with the Year of Faith, and so represents the work of two popes.

The encyclical talks about the relationship between faith and truth, and also of the inseparability of love and truth. Love in this context “cannot be reduced to an ephemeral emotion. True, it engages our affectivity, but in order to open it to the beloved and thus to blaze a trail leading away from self-centredness and towards another person, in order to build a lasting relationship; love aims at union with the beloved.”

With that understanding of love, the encyclical explains how love requires truth:

Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey. If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time. True love, on the other hand, unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light pointing the way to a great and fulfilled life. Without truth, love is incapable of establishing a firm bond; it cannot liberate our isolated ego or redeem it from the fleeting moment in order to create life and bear fruit.

By the same token, truth requires love.

Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives. The truth we seek, the truth that gives meaning to our journey through life, enlightens us whenever we are touched by love. One who loves realizes that love is an experience of truth, that it opens our eyes to see reality in a new way, in union with the beloved.

There is a lot to ponder in the Encyclical and it is worth reading in its entirety. You can also read the official summary of the Encyclical here.

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