The Fullness of Truth!

By Lenora Grimaud

When the Catholic Church boldly proclaims that only the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth, it often makes non-Catholics very angry. They see this as a very pompous and egotistical statement; a manifestation of elititism, conceit, and egotism. They don’t really understand what is being proclaimed. There are two kinds of truth: objective and subjective. The objective fullness of truth refers to the fullness of the Revelation of God to humans, through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the subjective fullness of truth that we experience through our relationship with him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation. Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. (CCC-50).

Jesus said: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.’ (Mat. Ch 5:17-18). Jesus is the fulfillment of the Revelation of God—the final covenant of God; the covenant in his blood: And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them, ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. (Mark 14:23-24).

Jesus sealed the new covenant with his blood. No other covenant is necessary. In the old covenant, all pacts were sealed with the shedding of blood (Ex. 24: 6-8); in this new covenant, it was God in the person of Jesus Christ, who shed his own blood to seal the covenant:

He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant. Now wherever a will is in question, the death of the testator must be established; indeed, it only becomes valid with that death, since it is not meant to have any effect while the testator is still alive. (Heb. 9:15-17).

No further Revelation of God is needed, or will be given, until Jesus returns in glory. Jesus has already given the full Revelation of the mystery of God’s plan to the Church, passed on by the Apostles. But, throughout time, we need the Holy Spirit to give us understanding, and to enable us to live the truth we have received. Revelation does not change; it is comprehended and applied to life in the present moment. Revelation is not static or stationery. It is alive and on-going, like the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one.… (CCC-65).

“The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (CCC-66).

Jesus did not abandon us. He did not abandon the Church. Jesus, the Revelation of God in the flesh—fully human and fully divine—is still with us. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. Jesus is one with the Church, his Bride. He is with us through the “Deposit of Faith.” He is with us through Tradition, Scripture, the Sacraments, and the Magisterium. He is especially with us in the Eucharist: “the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.” Jesus is also with us through the Holy Spirit, the “Advocate,” who he sent to be with the Church until the end of time. The Church is still united with the Apostles through “Apostolic Succession.” As believers, and members of the Church, we are part of the “Mystical Body of Christ.” Jesus is the head of the body, and we are all members of his body.

Deposit of Faith: The heritage of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, handed on in the Church from the time of the Apostles, from which the Magisterium draws all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed (84; cf. 1202). (CCC).

Magisterium: The living, teaching office of the Church, whose task it is to give as authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church’s fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals (85, 890, 2033). (CCC).

Holy Spirit: The third divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, the personal love of Father and Son for each other. Also called the Paraclete (Advocate) and Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the divine plan for our salvation (685; cf. 152, 243). (CCC).

On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and cried out: ‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me!’ As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of living water. He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39).

Apostolic Succession: The handing on of apostolic preaching and authority from the Apostles to their successors the bishops through the laying on of hands, as a permanent office in the Church (77, 861). (CCC).

Body of Christ: (1) The human body which the Son of God assumed through his conception in the womb of Mary and which is now glorified in heaven (467, 476, 645). (2) This same Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ are sacramentally present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine (1374). (3) The Church is called the (mystical) Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples; the metaphor of a body, whose head is Christ and whose members are the faithful, provides an image which keeps in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church (787, 790, 1396). (CCC).

The Catholic Church is not boasting when she claims to have the fullness of truth. “As Scripture says: If anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:31). Jesus said to his disciples: You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. (John 15:16). The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic only because of her union with Jesus Christ; because Jesus chose her to be his bride. Jesus gave authority to his Apostles, with Peter as their head. That same authority still resides with the Catholic Church, today, through the Magisterium. Jesus said to Peter:

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven. (Mat. 16:18-19).

Scripture also says:

Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, “Here is the message of the holy and faithful one who ‘has the key of David,’ so that ‘when he opens, nobody can close, and when he closes, nobody can open:’ I know all about you; and now I have opened in front of you a door that nobody will be able to close—and I know that though you are not very strong, you have kept my commandments and not disowned my name.” (Rev. 3:7).

The Fullness of Truth is a gift from God given to those most in need; those who are most receptive to it. It is not something that the Church, or any individual, can attain through their own merits, like those who built the “Tower of Babel.” No one can take credit for it. Instead, the Church is like Mary, when she proclaimed:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart.’ (Luke 2:46-51).

The Church is more than a particular Pope, Bishop, or Hierarchy in a given period of time. The Church is a Mother who gives birth to Jesus over and over again, in and through her children. She is, both, human and divine; made up of sinners and saints. She is imperfect, yet One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; not because of anything in herself, but because of her union with Jesus Christ, and because she was chosen for this mission.

Individual Christians do not possess the fullness of truth; they merely have access to the fullness of truth. Even the Church does not possess the fullness of truth; she merely has access to the fullness of truth. Only Jesus Christ has the fullness of truth, because he is Truth. Only God is the fullness of truth. We cannot possess Jesus Christ; we cannot possess God. We can only enter into union with God, by entering into union with Jesus Christ—because he is God in the flesh. We cannot enter into union with pure, uncreated, Spirit. The Spirit can possess us but we cannot possess the Spirit; anymore than we could take hold of the wind. We enter into union with the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—through Jesus Christ. Until the final resurrection, until Jesus comes again in Glory, we are only on the way to salvation, as St. Paul says; we are not saved, yet, but merely in the process of salvation: For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved—our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were—but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet—it is something we must wait for with patience. (Rom. 8:24-25).

Union with God is a relationship, freely entered into; we cannot possess God, and he refuses to possess us. While we are in union with Jesus Christ, we have access to all that he wants to give us. We have access to the truth that he reveals to us. When our relationship with Jesus is broken—when we separate ourselves from him because of sin and selfishness—we are blind to the Truth. We no longer have access to the Truth until we are reconciled with God again, through the forgiveness of sin.

The Sacrament of Marriage is an analogy of the marriage between Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church. Marriages begin to fall apart when spouses stop relating with each other—when they begin to take each other for granted and think they know all there is to know about each other. We can never know all there is to know about our own self, let alone our spouse, or God. When we believe we know our spouse, fully, we become complacent and take them for granted; we treat them like objects. The relationship stops growing. We stop asking, searching, and knocking. Jesus taught: Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. (Mat. 7:7). We no longer need, or want for the other; we no longer desire them. The sense of mystery is gone, and instead of being full of love, we end up full of self. This is the same with our relationship with Jesus—with God. When we think we know all that we need to know about God—when we have all that we want—we no longer hunger for God, or desire union with God. We are like the foolish virgins who had no oil for their lamps because they thought the oil would never run out; they didn’t even notice that they were empty. (Mat. 25:7-8). We no longer ask, search, and knock. We are confident that we are saved already, and need nothing more. We lose the holy longing for the Beatific Vision—to see the face of God. Jesus, however, is the perfect bridegroom—the forever faithful bridegroom—the only Son of God. Even though we are unfaithful, he is always faithful, and will never divorce us.

As Catholics, we sometimes boast that we are the only ones who have the fullness of truth. The problem is that the Truth is hidden from us, like a buried treasure. The only ones who have found it are the Saints who lay no claim on the Truth—those who have left everything; sold everything, in order to purchase the field; those who never stop searching for the kingdom of heaven. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.’ (Mat. 13:44).

Protestants, sometimes protest that Catholics lost the Truth through infidelity, and believe that they are now in possession of the Truth. They are the faithful remnant who, alone, will be enraptured up to God. Non-Christians laugh at all Christians because they don’t believe in the Truth. They think that, either everyone has the Truth, or none of us have it. Whereas, Protestants rely on Scripture, alone, along with their personal infilling of the Holy Spirit, for the fullness of truth, the Catholic Church relies on Scripture, Tradition, the Sacraments, and the Holy Spirit for the fullness of truth. Tradition includes not only Scripture, but those who wrote it, interpreted it, taught it, and lived it. The Catholic Church is guardian of the "Deposit of Faith"--the teachings of the Early Church Fathers and all the Councils; the teaching from Peter and the Apostles down to the present day Pope and all the Bishops. This is why the Catholic Church claims to have the objective fullness of truth.

Where is the subjective fullness of truth to be found? It can be found in the womb of Mary. It can be found in the little child. It can be found in the one who wonders; who is caught up in mystery—who asks, searches, and knocks—who never stops longing for the Beatific Vision. The Fullness of Truth is found in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and the Father, through and with the Holy Spirit.

Let the one who claims to have the Truth, prove it! Let the one who has the Truth, not deny it, but forever proclaim it—like the Bride who forever exalts in her Beloved: I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine. Let them say, with the Bride: On my bed, at night, I sought him whom my heart loves. I sought but did not find him. So I will rise and go through the City; in the streets and the squares. I will seek him whom my heart loves…I sought but did not find him. (Song of Songs: 3:1-2, 6:3).

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