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Step 12

ON LYING.

1. As flint and steel when struck against each other produce fire, so much talking, mingled with raillery, occasions falsehood.

2. By lying, we extinguish charity; and by false swearing, we renounce our allegiance to God.

3. Let no one who is truly wise, imagine that lying is a trifling fault, since no vice is condemned under more fearful denunciations than this in Holy Scripture: “O God, if thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie,”1 what will be the punishment of those who add perjury to falsehood?

4. I have seen those who, coveting the glory of being agreeable liars, and of exciting laughter by their witty and fabulous stories, have dried up the source of tears in the hearts of those who listened to them.

5. When the devils perceive, that, as soon as these facetious and jesting persons begin to speak, we wish to retire from their company, and shun such dangerous buffoonery as a contagious and pestilential atmosphere, they exert themselves to retain us by these two false and deceitful reasons; the first is not to displease by our retiring from him who seeks our entertainment; the second is not to appear more deeply affected with the love of God than others who are present, and who do not think it proper to withdraw from this social circle. But we say, retire immediately and without any further deliberation; if we do not, our minds will represent, during our prayers, the images and thoughts of all the pleasantries to which we have been listening. And do not content yourself with merely flying from such company, but endeavour before you retire, to break off the profane conversation by some pious remark, and by placing before the eyes of the guilty parties the remembrance of death, and of the last judgment. Even should you experience from this charitable proceeding, some slight thought of vainglory, no matter, it would be better to allow this trifling imperfection, than not procure so great a benefit to many of your neighbours.

6. Hypocrisy is the mother of lying, and is oftentimes its subject matter. For it is the opinion of many, that hypocrisy makes no meditation so frequently, and performs no work so commonly, as falsehood, with which it unites false swearing.

7. He who is filled with the fear of the Lord, is the enemy of lying; because he follows the dictates of his own upright conscience, which is the uncorrupted judge of his actions.

8. We may say of falsehood, what we say of all the passions; the offence is not always of the same magnitude. We judge of the degree of guilt from the diversity of the circumstances. For he who tells a falsehood through the dread of punishment, will be chastised by God less severely, than one who tells lies without any such fear, and who is influenced by no danger or threat of peril.

9. Some persons tell lies through the pleasure which they take in lying; others to gratify an unlawful passion; many to make their companions cheerful, and perhaps not a few to lay snares for their neighbours, to inflict upon him some injury, or to accomplish his ruin.

10. Judges suppress falsehood in the mouths of criminals by the employment of torments, but penitents utterly extinguish it in their hearts by the copious streams of their tears.

11. The liar alleges as the pretext of his falsehood, that he wounds truth merely, that he may do a kind office and a charitable action to his neighbour. In this manner he often mistakes for an act of charity that which, in reality is the perdition of his own soul. This inventor of deception and trickery pretends that he imitates Rahab, the harlot who concealed the spies; and whilst he is working his own ruin by his falsehood, assures us that he is but labouring for the salvation of others.

12. An author informs us: that to conceal the truth innocently there must lurk no falsehood within the foldings of the heart. There must also be a sufficient reason for this concealment of the truth, and we must never have recourse to this measure without fear.

13. A little child knows not what lying is; neither does a soul that is free from all malice. As he who is gay and cheerful over a bottle of wine cannot well disguise the truth, so he whom compunction has spiritually inebriated cannot utter a falsehood.

He who has mounted the twelfth step of our Holy Ladder, by the victory which he has obtained over lying, possesses the love of truth, which is the root of all the other virtues.


  1. Ps. v. 7.



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Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
USA
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