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Where to Seek the Truth (Part I of II)

June 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Challenges, Fr. Bartunek, Spiritual Direction, Truth

Where to Seek the Truth
Part I of II

Dear Father John, I want to learn more about God but I don’t know how to tell good teaching from bad. Where can I find out the truth?

That’s a very good question and I would like to begin by quoting from something that St. John Paul II wrote in the first year of his papacy:

The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption, and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth. —St. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 4 March 1979, paragraph 13.

HEALTHY CHRISTIANS EXPERIENCE an avid yearning to learn more about God and how to live more and more in communion with him, just as healthy babies experience a driving hunger for the food that will enable them to grow. In different seasons of life, however, and for different reasons, the yearning itself can diminish, HolySpiritDetailChairOfSaintPeteror we can silence it by focusing on less taxing or seemingly more practical aspects of following Christ. We need to keep an eye out for that. Loving God with all our minds means constantly seeking to get to know him better. When our knowledge of him becomes stale, our love, too, will become stale. We live in a fallen world, and growing in spiritual maturity requires intentionally swimming against that fallen world’s current. As soon as we stop, worldliness carries us backwards. This is why St. Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome, who had already received the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit, to continue seeking the renewal of their minds:

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Finding Food

In past ages, getting access to the message of Christ often required heroic efforts. Copies of the Bible were few, precious, and highly protected. And the vast majority of the population lacked enough education to be able to read the sacred Scriptures even if they had been more widely available. The faith was passed on largely through preaching and teaching, through the liturgical celebrations and the liturgical calendar (which often dictated the civil calendar), through the witness of consecrated men and women, and through local traditions. Even in difficult circumstances, however, God is still God, and the Holy Spirit has always found ways to instruct those who choose to make seeking a deeper knowledge of Christ and his kingdom a high priority–every era has its saints.

In post-modern times, the situation is different. Instead of a shortage of information, we have a glut of it. We are caught in a lava flow of information. We could spend all our waking hours reading, listening to, and watching the billions and billions of bytes that form the fluid and multimedia Internet library at our fingertips. Our problem isn’t finding sources that can deepen our knowledge of God and his revelation; our problem is choosing which ones to use, and following through with the decision to use them.

Editor’s Notes:

Art: Holy Spirit Detail from “Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica“, 03 05 2008, Sergey Smirnov, CCA-SA, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • Midgie

    I found the Truth simply by talking to God. I needed a miracle and the only Miracle worker I knew about was God, so I called upon Him unceasingly for a few months non-stop until I became very disillusioned and began wondering if I had been duped into believing in God when maybe Marx was right and religion was nothing but an opiate of the people. I couldn’t not believe, though, and instead became angry at God and lashed out at Him in my spirit and then fell to the floor like a sack of rags with sobs racking my whole body. I felt so broken and hopeless when all of a sudden I was encompassed in a supernatural peace that I knew that I knew that I knew God heard me. I laid awake the rest of the night waiting for the bookstores to open because I didn’t have a Bible and wanted to get a book that would give me a quick refresher course of all I learned about God as a child. I was drawn to buy the small paperback book The Greatest Story Every Told and as I was reading it, I was taken into the Spirit where I experienced the whole Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus as if I was right there observing it all as it happened 2000 years ago. Then I found myself kneeling at the Foot of the Cross looking up into the Eyes of Love. It was painful beyond words to experience all this but then Jesus was before dressed in a beautiful white robe that filled me with awe and wonder and JOY, JOY, JOY to see Him before me alive and well. I wanted to go with Him when He began to ascend upwards and I pleaded to go with Him. He just smiled the most beautiful, loving smile from His Eyes as He let me know that He would never leave me nor forsake me and would be with me always. Here it is 30 years later and Jesus is still all I can think about and talk about. How happy I was to have read Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis all tell us to enter intense prayer and seek an encounter with the Lord because many have not believed me, but I knew exactly what they meant. God bless you

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