Truth is the conformity of the mind with reality.

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Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is a popular series for Middle School-aged children. My middle-school-er has read the series a few times, and book 8.5 comes out this November. I have only read the first book in the series. It is an entertaining book about a 12-year-old girl named Sophie. Sophie is a ‘Telepath’ and has a photographic memory. Therefore, at age 12, she is a senior in high school on her way to a prestigious college. She has always felt different from everyone else and discovers why after she meets a boy named Fitz. Fitz explains to her that she is an elf hidden among humans. Sophie goes with him and learns about a whole new elven world.

I started off enjoying this series but got frustrated real quick. When Sophie meets certain adult elves, it is clear they are hiding something from her about her past, her parents, and why she was among humans instead of being raised in the elf world. I was frustrated because she had to make decisions, and I felt her choices would have been different if she knew the truth. 

Discussion with child: One of the first things Christians teach their children about God is His Laws, aka The Ten Commandments. The goal of the Ten Commandments is to teach us how to love God and our neighbor. Jesus tells us (Mt 22:36-39, Mk 12:28-34, Lk 10:25-28) that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. These two concepts are also taught in the Old Testament – love God in Deut 6:5 – love neighbor in Lev 19:18. I have written about the greatest commandment in two previous blog posts both here and here. 

The Eighth Commandment teaches to love by not bearing false witness against neighbor (Ex 20:16 and Deut 5:20). Essentially – do not lie. One other way to look at this commandment is that we are to bear witness to the truth. This sounds simple enough, but in paragraph 2469 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are taught that truth includes both honesty and discretion. We must discern “whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it” (CCC 2488). Therefore, there are things that we should say and things that should be kept secret. In this particular book, the elven adults decided to keep certain things about the past from Sophie, a child, based on what they discerned was best for her. However, Sophie needed to know the truth in order to make the best decisions for her future.

In researching this subject, I ran across this definition of truth:

“Truth is the conformity of the mind with reality, and truth in speech is the conformity of the spoken word to that which is known in the mind”

Sean Innerst, D.Th. The Ladder of Ascent, Year 2: Moral life and Prayer, 2018.

Reading this book reminded me that part of the Eighth Commandment requires Christian’s to be “witnesses of the Gospel” as “God is the source of all truth” (CCC 2465-2474). There have been times when in a secular environment or around non-Christian friends, I was silent and didn’t speak God’s truth. I told myself that I had discretion about when I should speak truth. If I don’t speak the truth in these opportunities, I can be like the adults in this book. By withholding the truth, someone may not be able to make the best choices in their lives. To make the best choices, we must understand and know truth.

CCC 2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.” In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”