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.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

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