Inter-spiritual Practices

Veritas - Shem Center For Interfaith Spirituality

“Silence is the womb where words that are true are born.” Practice befriending a silence that allows truth to live in the words we speak.

VERITAS, telling the truth as spiritual practice

Approved by Pope Innocent III in the year 1216, the Order of Preachers, (the Dominicans) founded by Dominic de Guzman from Caleruega, Spain choose as its motto the Latin word, “Veritas,” meaning, “truth.” As a member of the Order of Preachers, I have endeavored to make “veritas” central to my life. The truthful mission of Shem Center has seasoned into its declared purpose, a respectful inclusiveness for all people, all faith traditions and indeed all of creation. Thomas Aquinas, a saint of the Dominican order said, “Creation is the primary and most perfect expression of God’s revelation.” This astonishing statement about God’s truth declares the natural world to be of a higher standing than Sacred Scripture itself.

The word “veritas” takes on new meaning as we are daily assaulted by misinformation, rumors, insult, slander and outright lies. Most disturbing is an attitude that “alternate facts” are acceptable in contradiction to what is clearly factual and true. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes accepted as true,” thus making untruths a useful ruse. The availability of social media provides easy access to anyone to circulate lies for anyone willing to accept them.

Our dignity as human beings is violated by politically motivated lies openly proclaimed only to be contradicted minutes later by yet another fabrication. The resulting conspiracy theories infect society with a virus of falsehoods damaging to life and civility. This is clearly the moral question of today.

May truth be re-born among us as we claim the truth of our human dignity as people called to honesty and integrity. I offer for our reflection this icon of Mary the Mother of Jesus. She gestures a call for silence. The artist adds this text, as a title. “Silence is the womb where words that are true are born.” Practice befriending a silence that allows truth to live in the words we speak.

— Joseph Kilikevice, OP