The Eighth Commandment
Thou shalt not bear false witness |
against thy neighbor.
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
It was the custom among the first Christians for the rich to sell their property and give the money to the Apostles to be shared among all. Ananias and his wife Saphira, two disciples, sold their land. But they plotted to keep back some of the money. Giving the rest to St. Peter, Ananias pretended that it was the whole price that had been received for the land. St. Peter rebuked him and said that he lied against the Holy Ghost. Ananias fell down dead. Later, Saphira, not knowing what had happened to her husband, told the same lie to St. Peter. She also fell and died immediately after.
Many wonder why those who have led the counterfeit church of conciliarism for the past fifty plus years and their cohorts in crime have not also dropped dead considering the lies they have told about the faith and how they have duped so many and endangered countless souls. Yet, we must leave that to God for in His wisdom and time, all will be revealed. For now, let us focus on the eighth commandment by which we are commanded to speak the truth in all things, but especially in what concerns the good name and honor of others.
God is the God of Truth, and we are obliged to respect that truth. If we would prove ourselves children of God, we should, like Him, always respect the truth. "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life," says Our Lord (John 14:6). "You shall not lie" (Leviticus 19:11). This is why a lie, even when told for a good purpose, is always a sin, because it is contrary to the nature of God.
The lover of truth is like God, and well-pleasing to Him. The lover of truth is also held in esteem by his fellowmen, who know that they can trust him, for in him, as in Nathaniel (John 1:47), is no guile.
Even if we suffer from telling the truth, we shall be saved trouble and shall possess a clear conscience.
A habitual liar not only is often led into grave sin, but forfeits the trust of his fellow-beings, and is the cause of a great deal of harm. When people know that one is a habitual liar, they do not believe him even when he tells the truth. We have seen this only too well in our leaders today, especially over the past decade where every politician from the president on down, lawyers and professionals, media outlets, and almost everyone lie through their teeth. Vows no longer seem to mean anything to them. Put your hand on the bible and swear to God. Who cares?! Yes, perjury is rampant. But the liar will not win in the end, that we can tell you in all honesty, for it is no lie God braced for this by giving us the eighth commandment. Duh!
The liar is almost always guilty of other sins. "A thief is better than a man that is always lying. Lying men are without honor" (Ecclus. 20:27-28). Ah yes, without honor.
We must always be concerned for our neighbor's good name. In the eighth commandment God forbids us to detract in any way from our neighbor's honor or reputation that keeps us well-thought of and well-spoken of among our fellowmen. "A good name is better than great riches; and good favor is above silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1). The esteem of others is essential to real happiness; those who know they are despised by their fellowmen are not likely to be happy in this life. One who brings another into disrepute is a thief, stealing a good name. So you see one who does so is both a liar and a thief.
A good name is acquired by consistent struggle, by making our good works known, by defending ourselves whenever false accusations are made against us. This is why, in ordinary cases we do our good works openly in accordance with Our Lord's injunction, "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven" (St. Matthew 5:16).
Good works are the best means of defending a good name. We must, however, be sure we do not do our good works only to make a show before men, but chiefly to please God. When our name is in danger, we should defend ourselves and justify ourselves; but it is foolish to make too much fuss over trifles, as going to court over nothing. Today everyone wants to sue and the only winners are the lawyers, a profession today notoriously known for lying under oath. So you see, by lying they are not winners either.
If we would not speak so often, we would avoid many sins into which we habitually fall, consisting of sins of the tongue. Most of the sins committed are sins of the tongue; lying, backbiting, slander, gossip, calumny, detraction, the telling of secrets, all the results of talkativeness.
Let us try an experiment: For one whole day do not speak unless absolutely necessary, but each time you would have talked, jot down what you had wanted to talk about. At the end of the day you will see how many useless things, things wasteful of time, not to mention unkind and sinful things, you had wanted to say. If people would only hold their tongues, how much more useful they could be and how many graces they would gain!
Truthfulness promotes in the general welfare of society and mutual trust among men. The orderliness of the social order depends greatly on members speaking the truth. Let us imagine our own special community, with our favorite friends and tradesmen, with those we contact every day on various matters. Let us imagine the situation if we were not certain they were telling the truth all the time, but only a probable ten percent of the time! We know that is the case with our politicians and the media. How many are influenced by these lies and being led to slaughter both of soul and body?
Then there is evasion which is is a statement that may be interpreted in two ways. We are permitted to give an evasive or double meaning answer when there is no obligation to answer, and in order to either conceal a secret we have an obligation or a right to keep or to shield ourselves, or others from harm. In an evasive reply, the hearer deceives himself by his interpretation of what he hears.
The holy Doctor of the Church St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, was concealed in a vessel on the Nile, when the soldiers of the Emperor Julian overtook and stopped it. On their inquiring where Athanasius was, his servant replied: "He is not gone far." The soldiers went onward.
We are not supposed or expected to tell everybody our private affairs or those of our friends or superiors. Many persons out of carelessness or curiosity have a most irritating habit of asking very personal questions, such as "Where have you been?" "Where are you going?" "Did you have a visitor?" "What do you do all day?" "What is your work now?" "How much did you pay for that dress?" "Why did you leave home?" etc. If we are asked indiscreet questions by such curious or ill-bred people, we have a right to give an evasive answer.
At best these questions are a sign of extreme ill-breeding. We should be more thoughtful and discreet, and give everybody the right to his own private affairs. Answering, "He is not at home" is a social custom understood to mean that the person is not receiving callers, even if he is in the house. If a person we cannot trust tries to borrow money from us we can say: "I have no money" (Meaning, I have none to lend you).
When another has the right to the truth, we must answer simply and openly. Such is the case in buying or selling, or in drawing up an agreement. It would be against justice if two persons about to marry were to deceive each other by evasions about money matters and the other things.
The eighth commandment forbids lies, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, and the telling of secrets we are bound to keep. "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 12:22). "Wherefore, put away lying and speak truth each one with his neighbor, because we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:25).
It serves one well to consider talking about others as a pillow of feathers that are scattered to the winds when we open our mouths. We may be able to recover some of the feathers but never all for the ill winds of gossip will have carried them up and forever done damage we cannot make up for.
The greatest calumnies were spoken when false witnesses testified against Jesus before Caiphas. The high priest gave ear to the calumnies and condemned Our Lord to death, although he knew Him to be innocent. People who gossip and spread tales that detract from the reputation of someone have much to answer for. "He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law" (James. 4:11).
There is a difference in speaking against a brother with a lie or the truth. What is the difference? A lie is something said for the purpose of deceiving others, which we know or suspect to be untrue. A lie expresses opposition between one's word and one's thought; it implies the intention to deceive by stating what is false. Lying is a sin even when it may be the means of effecting much good; we must not commit evil in order to obtain good.
Hypocrisy or dissimulation is acting a lie. It is hypocrisy to pretend to be better than we are. It was hypocrisy of Judas to kiss Our Lord like a friend, when it was only to betray Him. Those who are outwardly pious but lead lives of sin are hypocrites. They resemble satan, who can assume the form of an angel of light. Jesus called hypocrites "whited sepulchers", beautiful outside, but within full of dead men's bones
Flattery consists in praising a person immoderately, against one's conviction, for an ulterior motive. A flatterer lies in order to secure an advantage for himself. "A man that speaketh to his friend with flattering and dissembling words spreadeth a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5). "It is better to be rebuked by a wise man than to be deceived by the flattery of fools" (Ecclus 7:6). Flatterers criticize and ridicule a man behind his back, but they praise him before his face. (cf. Isiah 5:20).
A person commits the sin of rash judgment when, without sufficient reason, he believes something harmful to another's character. People judge others by themselves; he who is not evil will less likely think evil quickly of others; he who is a sinner will interpret the actions of others in an evil manner at once. One's judgment of others is a reflection of his own character. "Charity thinks no evil" (1 Corinthians 13:5). A just person, even when he sees evil, tries to avoid thinking of it, and leaves the judgment to God. A person is guilty of rash suspicion when he suspects on insufficient grounds. "Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again" (St. Matthew 7:1-2).
However, we must be careful not to fall into the trap that we should not judge one's actions and words. We have a responsibility to judge one's actions or words if they are not in alignment with Catholic truth and charity. It is important to also remember that we can never judge a person's heart. That is left for God alone.
A person commits the sin of detraction when, without good reason, he makes known the hidden faults of another.
Uncharitable conversation is commonly termed backbiting or backstabbing, a cowardly act of discussing the known faults of another without necessity, and behind his back. It is wrong to listen to detraction and uncharitable conversation, if we take pleasure in it or encourage it. When the conversation turns to another person's faults, we should try to excuse him or change the subject. "Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbor? Let it die with thee" (Ecclus 19:10).
A person commits the sin of calumny or slander when by lying he injures the good name of another. Exaggerating faults is a form of calumny. Gossip is a form of calumny, because it usually exaggerates a person's faults or sins with malice.
We are obliged to keep a secret when we have promised to do so, when our office requires it, or when the good of another demands it. A priest may never reveal anything confided to him in confession, even if keeping it secret will result in death for himself or others. This rule has no exception. It is called the Seal of Confession and is severe under Canon Law and before God.
A secret may be revealed when:
When there is just reason for revealing a secret, we may do so to persons in authority, such as parents, superiors, teachers, or courts of law. Serious faults should be made known to parents, teachers, and superiors, who may be able to correct them. Care should be taken to avoid exaggerating faults.
It is wrong to read another person's letters without permission. Eavesdroppers are contemptible. A tattletale is despicable. A person who has sinned by detraction or calumny, or who has told a secret he is bound to keep, must repair the harm he has done to his neighbor, as far as he is able. If the offense was made in private, we must apologize, and take back what we said. If the offense was made before others, we must retract publicly. If we do not endeavor to repair the harm we have done, we cannot obtain God's pardon or the priest's absolution.
It is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make perfect reparation for calumny and detraction. Words once spoken are not forgotten by those who hear. We should make it a rule never to speak ill of anyone.
A story is told of the saintly Cure d' Ars Saint John Vianney and a penitent at the confessional, who had confessed having gossiped at an acquaintance. The penitent thought he got off very easily indeed when all the penance he was given was to drop one by one ten blades of straw in the yard before his house, at a distance of five meters apart, and then to go back and pick up the ten blades. Going home, he proceeded to perform the penance. But he realized the lesson the saintly priest wished him to learn when, upon returning to pick up the blades of straw, he could find none; the wind had blown them all away.
So also in this day and technological age where one stroke of the keys can send a detraction of another around the world. We have to be so very careful and think before we speak or send for at stake is not only another's reputation, but one's own salvation. When it comes to saying something, the best advice is to emulate good St. Joseph and say little while praying a lot. You can never go wrong in following that advice to avoid vice.
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