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Fake News and Alternative Facts

I hear so much talk these days about “Fake News” and Orwell’s “alternative facts.”  How many times have we seen untruths foisted upon us? What do we believe? Who do we believe?  Pondering these questions, I was reminded of the following prayer from the 15th century German monk, Thomas a’ Kempis.  May the Lord give each of us this wisdom in our own lives:

“GRANT me help in my troubles, O Lord, for the aid of man is worth little. How often have I failed to find friendship in places where I thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found it where I least expected it! Vain, therefore, is hope in men, but the salvation of the just is in You, O God. Blessed be Your name, O Lord my God, in everything that befalls us. We are weak and unstable, quickly deceived and changed. Who is the man that is able to guard himself with such caution and care as not sometimes to fall into deception or perplexity? He who confides in You, O Lord, and seeks You with a simple heart does not fall so easily. And if some trouble should come upon him, no matter how entangled in it he may be, he will be more quickly delivered and comforted by You. For You will not forsake him who trusts in You to the very end. Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his friend’s distress. But You, Lord, and You alone, are entirely faithful in all things; other than You, there is none so faithful. Oh, how wise is that holy soul who said: ‘My mind is firmly settled and founded in Christ.’ If that were true of me, human fear would not so easily cause me anxiety, nor would other men’s words so soon move me…

In whom shall I put my faith, Lord? In whom but You? You are the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. Every man, on the other hand, is a liar, weak, unstable, and likely to err, especially in words, so that one ought not to be too quick to believe even that which seems, on the face of it, to sound true. How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man’s enemies are those of his own household; that we should not believe if anyone says: ‘Behold he is here, or behold he is there….’

You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away by every wind of words, but to wish that all things, within and beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy will. How conducive it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to flee as far away as we can the conversation of worldly men, not to seek abroad things which seem to cause admiration, but to follow with utmost diligence those which give fervor and amendment of life! How many have been harmed by having their virtue known and praised too hastily! And how truly profitable it has been when grace remained hidden during this frail life, which is all temptation and warfare!”

Thomas a’ Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ”, Book 3, chapter 45

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