by Fr. Joe Landi, Editor of the San Francisco Charismatics  

About Fr. Landi Out of the World and Into the Kingdom--His journey to priesthood by Rissa Singson.

 

Dear Diary...Pictures posted in the window of the bait shop at the pier at Sharp Park (Pacifica, California) with proud, smiling anglers holding up their catch make it  difficult for them to exaggerate the size of their catch.  But that doesn't they can't  do it for the one that got away.

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Coming from a long line of fishermen, I have observed that the tendency to exaggerate is common among anglers. Perhaps it is their compensation for spending all that time alone.

Actually fishermen do not have a corner on the exaggeration game. If you have had any remodeling work done or built a new building, you may think that the art of exaggeration was one of the requirements to receive a Contractors State License. They do it with aplomb. For example, the construction workers building our new multi-purpose building broke the rectory sewer line. "When will you have it fixed?" I inquired of the project foreman. "Before noon," he responded. Having had much experience with the building trades, I inquired, "Before noon of what day?" He just laughed.

A couple of days later I inquired again. "Tomorrow," he responded assuredly with a friendly smile. Since tomorrow never comes, I had a sinking feeling that we would be enjoying for some time that picnic-feeling of eating off paper plates and the seminary experience of commuting to a toilet and shower. However, a week later, the sewer was fixed. A week later, d`ej'a vue-broken again.

Some people think that many politicians have an innate ability to prevaricate. Could be true. Many politicians are also lawyers and it has been said of that profession, "99% of them give the other 1% a bad name." After all it was the consummate politician-lawyer whose remark qualifies for the Guinness Book of Records for the proficient lie of the decade. You know the one--he looked into the TV camera at his home and into our eyes watching TV in our homes to personally assure us that, "I did not have sex with that woman…"

We may find humorous the stories about fishermen, building trades people, politicians, and lawyers with abilities to stretch the truth. What we don't find humorous is when we've trusted someone's word and have been burned by his or her ability to manage the truth. Since the vast majority of us are truthful, we assume that everyone else is, too. We are taken aback when we find someone who isn't. Occasionally we can sense the lie and see that there are some people who are so proficient at lying that it makes us wonder if they know where reality begins and their fantasy world ends.

So what is a lie. According to the Catechism, "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. [St. Augustine, De mendacio 4, 5: PL 40: 491.] The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: 'You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a LIAR and the father of lies.’" [Jn 8:44 .]" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2482.)

Let's stamp out prevarication by recognizing it as evil and commit ourselves to truth-telling. The first step in stamping out prevarication is call it what it is: lying and to understand that it is dangerous when a civilized society begins to accept lies as a norm. A civil society is based on truths not fantasy. We must not forget that lying is on one of God's big "thou shall nots." Giving lying the respectability of euphemisms like, "stretching the truth", fibs, falsehoods,, stories, tales, or canards only complicates the problem. Being a liar is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. There is no in-between.

Remember that lying caused the great fall and the original sin of Adam and Eve. Scripture speaks of it as the "sin of these angels" [Cf. 2 Pet 2:4.] and their "fall". The fall consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God". [Gen. 3:5 .] Remember that the devil "has sinned from the beginning." (CCC 392)

There is an adage: You can trust a thief, but can never trust a liar. In the moral scheme of things, it is still true.

Here is another adage: Honesty is the best policy. There can be no moral life or no moral society without the commitment to truth-telling.

Fr. Joe Landi is a Parochial Vicar at St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco, the Archbishop's Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, the Editor of the San Francisco Charismatics, and Board Chair of Sierra Point Credit Union, South San Francisco, serving the community, parochial and government schools in San Mateo County, and the Charismatic Renewal.

By clicking on the following blue type, you can contact Fr. Landi by e-mail at frjoe@sfspirit.com, read other articles in the September 1999 issue of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu of this web site.

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