Choose a topic from Part 2B:

110. Lying

1. Lying or mendacity is a vice opposed to the virtue oftruthfulness. A lie is the intentional telling of a falsehood. Butthe intention to deceive does not enter into the essenceof a lie. Any serious statement which is opposed to the truth asknown by the speaker is a lie, whether the speaker intends todeceive anyone or not. And if a speaker sayswhat he honestlythinks is true, but is, in fact, not true, the speaker does nottell a lie. His words make the material for a lie, butthey lack the form or essential determinant of a he. Theessential determinant, or form, of a he is the intention to speakfalsely.

2. Lies are called officious, jocose, or mischievous,according as they are told for profit or convenience, for pleasureor entertainment, or for the purpose of hurting someone or causingtrouble. The mischievous lie is the worst of lies; it is oftencalled a malicious He, for it is the fruit of malice orbad will.

3. A lie is always evil. For it is an inordinate andunreasonable thing, and hence an evil, to employ speech, which isthe natural instrument for expressing what is in the mind, as ameans of expressing what is not in the mind. It is not evil toevade a question; that is, it is not evil, except underextraordinary circumstances, to keep what one knows to oneself. Butit is evil to tell lies. Similarly, it is not evil to elude thesalesman who wishes us to buy something; it is not evil to keepone's money in one's pocket; but it is evil to buy what thesalesman offers with counterfeit money. It is not evil either tospeak in figurative language, provided those who hear can, orshould, understand what is meant.

4. A malicious lie may be a mortal sin, for it can be agrave offense against charity and justice as well as againsttruthfulness. But jocose lies (when they are really lies at all)and officious lies are usually venially sinful. A jocose lie oftenfails to have the character of a lie because it is not aserious statement; those who utter such things, and thosewho hear, are well aware that the speaker is not manifesting hismind, his knowledge, or his convictions, but is merely jesting.

"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis

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"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "
St Philip Neri

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