St. John Paul II and a Caution against the Age of Fraud
Fifty or a hundred years from now, the sociologists that write books to describe our time will have only one term to discuss today: fraud. It’s everywhere, and people think nothing of it. I think that’s because they don’t realize that the ancient Greeks long before the time of Christ, determined that there would be a time when all would be revealed. Socrates, in fact, upon his death, as he died of the hemlock poisoning, spent his last breath to be sure that a hen he owed to someone was paid from his house. Even the pagan Romans were not so reckless with truth, and memorialized the concept of an apocalypse in the maxim: Tempus omnia revelat [time reveals all]. There is a double edged sword with this reality. For the evil, a cut, but for the good, an awesome opportunity. For the age of fraud, though, what is going on with the wild and widespread idea of today where there is recklessness and such persistence in lies and fraud? People practically expect others to lie and seem to think it is good. Fraud, however, is not just a lie.
There are many definitions of fraud that focus on different outcomes of the heinous act, and in my tenure as an attorney, when I wrote clerking for a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, I managed to pen a few definitions, based on legal precedents that persist as precedential law today. At the most basic theology, however, we can distill the essence of fraud to this definition:
Fraud is a deception purported on another with the intent to cause the other person to act or not act in a way that they would not have had they been told the truth.
We’ve all had that moment when we’ve acted on a fraudster’s utterances only later to discover the fraud. The wild realm of emotions, from betrayal to distrust to some level of remorse are all the reasons why Dante placed frauds and cheats at the lowest levels of hell closest to Satan. The lowest level was saved for treacherers, which are frauds with the worst of consequence because of on whom the fraud was committed. The father of lies, after all, managed to get our first parents to first sin through fraud. Frauds were in the penultimate bowel of hell, and Dante had 10 varieties of frauds, each with terrible punishments, such as the flatterers, shown above, who had human excrement piled upon them because they had done this to others throughout their life.
But there is something wrong with a fraudster — do they not realize that God will reveal all at the end of time? The was a music CD some time ago released with Pope John Paul II as the main performer among a lot of other music. It always stood out in my mind, his recitation of the Gospel:
Everyone who does wrong, hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed.
But the man who lives in the truth comes out into the light that it may be plainly seen that what is done, is done in God.
He was citing John iii. 20. [note, I prefer the old Catholic method of citing the Bible… for moderns, that was John 3:20]. He said it so slowly and deliberately, that it resonates and echoes in your mind. Good thing, too, because there’s so much meat in that statement. Why? Because it is the beginning of life in God to realize that light will be on everything that is in God. To support my assertion that this is one of the most practical starts to all virtue and peace in life, I have cited before similar sentiments from Church fathers with regard to chastity. It should be such a simple idea.
The world we live in today would have people believe otherwise. Fr. Hardon’s frequent quote of Marshall McLuhan (viz. “all the media is engaged in a Luciferian conspiracy against the truth”) supports this idea as well. The very concept of truth is difficult for most highly educated to grasp because the very education system itself has defined truth to be something produced by the mind, as opposed to something observed and apprehended by the mind. One remedy is a simple aspect of God, that is a mystery, but in this facet is clear: you can’t purport a fraud on God.
As we head into the time of year when the Church puts the four last things in front of us, and calls us to consider that we will someday be in front of God, but our life in Him begins now, I offer this little tidbit from my trusty old-school catechism:
God, Who knows all things, will one day bring all hidden things to light.
Our Lord says, “There is nothing hidden that shall not be made manifest; or secret that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke viii. 17). God will, in the Last Day, disclose and make known our whole life. As the morning sun shows all things in their true light, so Christ, the Sun of justice, will at the Day of Judgment reveal all our actions in their true light. All prayers, alms, fasts, penances, that are done according to His will, will be made manifest to the whole world. Nothing is so small as to escape notice at the Last Day.
“We should think on God’s omniscience, especially when we are tempted, that we may pass through our temptations unscathed.
A little boy who was in a strange house saw there a basket full of beautiful apples. As he could see no one in the room, he was much tempted to help himself to some. But the thought came to him of God’s omniscience. “No,” he said, “I must not take them, for God sees me.” At that moment a man who was hidden from him by a curtain, called out to him, “You may take as many apples as you like.” What a blessing it was for him that he had not taken them without permission. If we know that some one is watching us we are very careful what we do; if we remember that God sees us, we shall be still more careful. Job took refuge in God’s knowledge of his innocence, when he was mocked at by his friends; so did Susanna when falsely accused (Job xvi. 16; Dan. xiii. 42).
For the fraud and cheat, that aspect is frightful. Once you live in God, however, the idea changes to something pretty neat, because that same mystery offers you an advantage. Jesus hinted at this idea when He counseled that when you do good, do not allow your left hand to know what your right is doing. You can do good things that nobody but you, God, and your angel (that is, your guy in heaven) will know about until God reveals them!
Imagine that! Instead of dreading the final apocalypse, start doing good things hidden today so you and your angel have an inside joke for that day when all is revealed!
This article, St. John Paul II and a Caution against the Age of Fraud is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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