They say the best mirror is an old friend. Old friends see who you are differently from how you see yourself. They’re truthful about it…if they’re good friends. That’s so important, too, because even if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we can still overlook some aspects of our personalities that only our long-time friends are able to see. We can also lose touch with dimensions of our character; we just forget. And we need old friends to remind us who we truly are.
In matters of character and personality—in matters of our person—the best mirror is often an old friend.
We don’t tend revisit and reassess how we are ordered on the inside
For everything else, the best mirror…is a mirror. Where would we be without them? You fix your hair, or your makeup in the morning, and then you leave home to start your day. How many times do you check the mirror through the day to make sure your hair, or your makeup, are well in order? You look at mirrors, you may look at your reflection in store windows as you pass them by; we’re always revisiting our appearance to make sure we’re in order. At least on the outside. We don’t tend revisit and reassess how we are ordered on the inside; but we’re very faithful about checking our appliance on the outside, with great frequency.
To really know what’s going on inside of us, we often need an outside perspective. And sometimes we ourselves must mimmic that outside perspective. Sometimes we have to step outside of ourselves and look into ourselves a little more honestly, a little more critically, sometimes a little more fairly. Just as your hair or your makeup needs occasional maintenance to put it right through the day, and you wouldn’t know to put it right if you didn’t occasionally check a mirror, we too need regular maintenance to put ourselves right when we’ve become a little less ordered. It’s not easy. It’s challenging. But it’s something we all have to learn to do, and do it with some regularly.
Even the Church, I think, needs a reflective perspective these days.
Now, you can take this personally if you want. You can apply this Moment of Truth to your personal life, and you sure won’t be the worse for it, in fact it’ll benefit you a great deal. But what I’m talking about is something broader, and larger than all that. I’m talking about The Church. I mean the ecclesial Church, and the people and persons within the Church (Catholics). I’m talking about a renewed perspective on our faith, on our roles in the Church, and our roles in the world as Catholics. Even the Church, I think, needs a reflective perspective these days.
Let’s start with the ecclesial Church. In many ways the Church has become very disordered, and needs to put itself right. And fast. I don’t mean the obvious things, like the issues with the liturgy, loosey-goosey clerics, or any of that. I mean, that has to be put right too. But it won’t be put right until the Church’s main disorder is addressed. The Church has no idea who She is anymore.
Now to be clear, when I say “The Church” here I’m specifically talking about the human element, not the Divine Organism. The priests, bishops, cardinals, religious, the lay-employees working in Diocesan organizations. That’s specifically what I’m talking about, the people who make “The Church” happen; the people who facilitate the operation of the Church.
“…and I say Bravo!”
It’s very clear, at least to me, that The Church doesn’t know who she is anymore. The way The Church lays down or puts up barely a fight in the face of growing oppression and assault by the secular world, you’d think The Church were a frightened little child hiding in the corner, terrified to face the mean ol’ bully. How pathetic. And how very sad. Many in the Church often speak as if The Church has no moral authority. They speak as if The Church has no moral clarity. What an unbelievably embarrassing display when a Cardinal is asked about his thoughts on a gay athlete coming out of the closet, and he responds with “Bravo”. How pathetic the best a parish can do in speaking up for the unborn is to say “We believe in protecting human life from the beginning, until it’s natural death”. Is that a joke? Everyone protects life from the beginning. What sets us apart from the secular mind is that we know that life begins at conception. Are we so eager and so desperate to keep people in the pews that we don’t want to be too clear about such a fundamental truth?
The Church needs to put itself back in order. The Church needs to remember who she is. The Catholic Church isn’t a hub of interesting thoughts and ideas. The Catholic Church is the pillar and foundation of TRUTH. The Church shouldn’t be so fearful, or so politically correct as to dishonor its own identity, and betray the Truth she is called to champion and herald to the world. Dear Catholic Church: You are the moral force of the world. You have all moral authority, and you are the only source of objective moral clarity. Please, come out of your hiding place, stop walking on egg shells, stop letting secular politicians talk down to you, demean and belittle you. Stand up, remember who you are, and for Heaven’s sake BE who you are. I think it’s about time!
We Catholics in the laity need to put ourselves in order, too. We need to look at ourselves honestly, as if looking in a mirror. We’re usually pretty good about looking out ourselves on the outside, but not on the inside. We do what’s required of us—we pray, we go to mass, etc. We try to conduct ourselves appropriately at mass, we may talk with charity on our lips. We’re attentive to the exterior, but when was the last time we honestly looked at ourselves on the inside?
When was the last time we looked at ourselves, and at our faith from the perspective of non-believers?
Are we well disposed? Are we balanced? Is there some part of us that needs to be better-balanced? Are we kneeling to receive Christ in the Eucharist, while standing against His Bride in word or in deed; or supporting others who do? Are we aware, not just in our minds, but in our hearts, of just how amazing Catholicism is, and how fortunate we are to be Catholic? Have we grown so used to the faith, and the faith experience, that we’ve forgotten how to fall more deeply in love with it? Has it all become commonplace?
When was the last time we looked at ourselves, and at our faith from the perspective of non-believers? If we look honestly at what they see, what exactly would we discover? Do they see fear or do they see righteousness? Do they see arrogance, or do they see confidence? Do they see a monster, or a Knight in shining armor? Do they see Jesus, or do they see the Sanhedrin? Do they see a saint, or do they see Judas? Sometimes considering that outside perspective can be as fruitful as listening to an old friend, acting as your mirror. If we’re honest with ourselves.
Only an honest look into ourselves will lead us to that true and honest answer. And sometimes we need an old friend to help us along the way. Sometimes that old friend is another human being. Sometimes we have to play the old friend, and look honestly at ourselves. But in every case, we are helped along that path by a true companion; the Holy Spirit who leads us always to the truth.