Thursday, September 16, 2010
Our Lady of Authenticity
To be authentic requires building, but also burning, some bridges--those bridges that have trick planks or insupportable human-faulty pillars and struts, leading nowhere of much good. Sometimes burning bridges forces us to go on without the temptation of turning back, retracing steps on the bridge now behind us. Sometimes burning a bridge keeps others from following. This can be a good thing if a private journey, an experimental journey, or a flawed journey. Burning keeps them from treading prematurely or in directions not God's will for them, or whose grasping after us could cause footfalls for everyone involved.
Exterior authenticity is not nearly as critical as interior. This is the way of souls in all matters. The interior is of greatest value, at least in God's sight. Man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. We can try to enhance the outer appearance, make it palatable for temporal senses. To do this is charity, if within our means, if not immoral, not distracting. We do this to soften pain, or when we have a job to do, such as sales. We need to present ourselves in a way that increases confidence and receptivity in the potential buyers of what we are selling be it daily goods or services.
As Catholics, we are selling Christ and His Church. We do this best through our inner authenticity, but the outer package can open possibilities, create effective inroads. Improving the outer appearance is simple enough. It is good penance, as well, because while tangible, it does require attention to detail. Wear what is becoming, appropriate for the moment, clean, neat; do what we can to mask distractions, general wear and tear; keep the body trim and fit, eat right to do so. It amounts to car detailing, or readying a house for guests or to sell.
Inner authenticity requires the full monte. For inner authenticity is dependent upon God's graces, and Our Lady is the dispenser of graces. We have more control in tangible means, building authentic exteriors. Yet we are more readily detected if our exterior is deceptive. A person can dress up as a nurse, doctor or policeman, when not. We Catholics find hope in people who wear habits, for it reminds of eras of holiness, visually of certain saints. But the outer does not the inner make. We don't want to cross that bridge.
This has come to me recently, perhaps as a grace from Our Lady of Authenticity. I've been wrong in thinking the outer will change the inner. Hence what present moments, I see the honest truth, that which the saints have written and lived. Go straight away to the interior, work from within to without, which requires brash transparency, authenticity, God's holy truth. The graces flow subtly, steadily, washing a soul of its guile. Sometimes we do not see spent sludge until later, mentally pondering steps of a bridge traversed. Best to be critical to the details, like soaking a seed overnight in water for better growth.
It is as true as Our Lady of Authenticity, that one take the bridge leading straight to the interior. There delve into the truth of the soul; pray to see reality of what is in us and what should not be. We can smile at our foolishness, those deceptions in times we honestly thought we knew ourselves, our motives--the real deal. But were we, are we? We can chuckle at the inconsistencies, weep (for painful joy), and have empathy for ourselves and others, for our dishonesty, much of which is over little things, like what is good for the goose is good for the gander. And know that in every moment, inner truth need be won.
The soul is formed by God's graces, mediated by Our Lady of Authenticity, buttressed by our honest life's work of soul searching, virtue building, and trust in those we know are authentic. Follow Christ Who is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Be led by Our Lady of Authenticity, Angels and Saints, Scripture, the Sacraments, Holy Catholic Church. The inner will grow like that of seeds hidden in dark loam, and let the outer unfold accordingly, shoots springing into blossoms and fruit, gifts of the Holy Spirit. From the inner to the outer, in and out, back in, evolving. This is authentic for all God's creation.
Our Lady of Authenticity, pray for us!