“resurrection glasses”

Sometimes I have written here about trying to see annoying or challenging people through what I have called “resurrection glasses”, that is, the inner lens a Christian ought to have well-polished which helps us to see how people may be after the resurrection.

If we can learn to imagine how God may intend that person to be in heaven, after the resurrection, we may be able to avoid some of the sins we can commit through lack of charity.

It is not very often that I find something of value on the site of the National Catholic Reporter, but there is a good article right now by Michael Leach, publisher emeritus and editor at large of Orbis Books, and author.

I am not quite sure about his discussion of “metapsychiatry”, which I don’t understand very well, and frankly don’t care to read about much more.  It sounds rather new-agey and synchretistic to me, with its Jung and Zen and references I found upon a quick web check.

But that’s not the point.

The writer is advancing something which we ought to be able to agree on: people who are afflicted with physical and mental challenges are made in God’s image and likeness, God loves them and wants them to be happy with Him in heaven, and if they come to that glorious state through their infirmities their beauty just may – in my opinion – by far surpass what “normal” people enjoyed in this vale of tears and may hope ever to attain in the life to come.

We don’t need “metapsychiatry” to teach us about our Faith and about charity.

Nevertheless, the article was a reminder that we all have to examine our consciences and keep our “resurrection glasses” clean.

Here is the first part…


Christ and cerebral palsy

By Michael Leach
Created Nov 08, 2011
by Michael Leach [1] on Nov. 08, 2011

“Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces.” — Gerard Manley Hopkins [From "As Kingfishers Catch Fire"]

How easy it is to see the face of Christ in the eyes of a baby or the limbs of a child racing a kite or the features of a movie star. The key to eternal life is to behold the loveliness of Christ in the eyes of a child born blind, the limbs of a teenager with cerebral palsy, the features of a woman scarred with burns. The truth is — the beauty is — each wears the face of Christ and they all play as one.

How many times have I averted my eyes from a picture in TIME of a starving baby with flies on her face or didn’t pay attention to the fellow slumped over in a wheelchair at a wedding or found an excuse not to visit a friend wasting away with cancer or pretended the family at the diner who had a noisy child with Down syndrome didn’t exist? And what a blessing it becomes to begin to see with spiritual eyes and behold the image of the emaciated baby as she really is, whole, to touch the cripple in the wheelchair and say hello, to visit a friend or acquaintance in the hospital or nursing home with a great big smile, and to stop by the table with the Down child and touch his shoulder and tell him and his parents what a wonderful family they are. The truth is — the wonder is — that the words of Christ are literally true: “Whatever you do unto these, you do for me.” And what we do for Christ we do for them and for ourselves and for the whole human race. For all of us, each of us, are one.

[...]

Read the rest there, if you wish.

Technorati Tags: , ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to “resurrection glasses”

  1. Nicole says:

    Very strange…this article seems to follow the shift from recognizing the inherent dignity in the human person to everyone “wearing” the face of Christ… Are we merely supposed to presume that every human creature is justified now and an adopted son of God? Confused…

  2. APX says:

    I get where this is coming from, and I understand it’s good intentions, but from a practical perspective, for me personally I would have a hard time seeing the “face of Christ” in a lot of the people I deal with on a daily basis. Christ never beat up his spouse with an appliance used for cleaning in front of his kids, or some other horrible thing. I’ll stick with the “I’m a sinner just like him” method of being charitable towards my clients.

  3. Mark01 says:

    I try this with people at work when I’m in difficult meetings, seeing Christ in everyone. To be honest, it doesn’t really help, it’s too abstract to me. Instead, I find it useful to realize that these people have families at home who love them and children who look up to them. If they were my neighbor and I didn’t have to work with them in difficult circumstances, I might even be friends with them. I would at least be nice to them. Thinking about their families and children really helps me see them as a person that people and God love, which makes it easier to stop thinking of them as the annoying guy who can’t give me a straight answer and is causing my work to be more difficult.

    [Oh? I really like the part about families, but...c'mon. Is is too haaaard?

      Keep trying.]

  4. Hidden One says:

    “Each person is Jesus in disguise.”
    — Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

    Having read the rest of the article… isn’t “beholding” just the abstraction of particular abstract universals from particulars?

  5. Hidden One says:

    Oops! I suppose, instead of “particular”, the first time, I should have written “certain” or “specific” for clarity’s sake.

  6. MargaretC says:

    I remember once being at mass, and becoming increasingly annoyed by the squirming and noises made by a small boy a couple of pews away. His mother did try to quiet him, but he seemed to be much too old to be making such a fuss, and I began making mentally criticizing his mother’s parenting skills and approach to discipline…

    Then he turned around. And I saw that he had Down’s Syndrome.

    My thoughts changed to admiration of his mother for sparing his life. And I realized that I had just committed the sin of rash judgment.

  7. Nicole says:

    Hidden One – a lot is attributed to Mother Teresa that can’t actually be proven that she said…

  8. Hidden One says:

    @Nicole

    I know. I stand by the quote. If you want the same idea from her but cited, I can do that.

    “I shall keep the silence of my heart with greater care, so that in the silence of my heart I hear His words of comfort and from the fullness of my heart I comfort Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor.” – No Greater Love, p. 11

    “We are taught from the very first moment to discover Christ under the distressing disguise of the poor, the sick, the outcasts, Christ presents Himself to us under every disguise: the dying, the paralytic, the leper, the invalid, the orphan. It is faith that makes our work, which demands both special preparation and a special calling, easy or at least more bearable. Without faith, our work could become an obstacle for our religious life since we come across blasphemy, wickedness, and atheism at every turn.” – No Greater Love, p. 166

    “In your homes you have a starving Christ, a naked Christ, a homeless Christ. Are you capable of recognizing Him in your own homes? Do you realize that He is right there in your midst?” – One Heart Full of Love, p. 21

    “We should not serve the poor like they were Jesus. We should serve the poor because they are Jesus.” – In My Own Words, p. 30

    … I could continue, but my point is made, and I do not know that Fr. Z would appreciate a multiplicity of quotations.

  9. Phillip says:

    Reminds me a bit of C. S. Lewis in “The Weight of Glory.”

    “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. … You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

    Ah, Lewis. The Protestant who turned me Catholic.

  10. michelelyl says:

    Thank you for posting this, Father.
    Tonight in RCIA we discussed the major themes of the Social Justice teachings of the Church (Stewardship/Matt 25: 14-30) and this is a good example of the dignity of each human. I think it will resonate with those who are longing to join the Church.

  11. michelelyl: The human rights, social justice issue is the right to life.

  12. samgr says:

    A Down syndrome child, probably in his 30s, occasionaly comes with his mother to the Mass I usually attend. His growth is stunted and he can’t verbalize, but he prays. He knows the rhythms of the words of the responses and the Our Father and joins in. Would that we were all so Catholic.

  13. Hughie says:

    Fr, while wholly agreeing with the intended thrust of what you are saying here, there is a problem. You say: “Sometimes I have written here about trying to see annoying or challenging people…. If we can learn to imagine how God may intend that person to be in heaven, after the resurrection, we may be able to avoid some of the sins we can commit through lack of charity.”

    I have met more than a few people who despite what the good Lord no doubt originally intended for them, there is just no way I can envision them ever being in Heaven. I know you will say that that is lacking in charity, but it is not lacking in reality. In my high school class — Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, alma mater of the late Cardinal Tom Winning — I had a close namesake who on the day of his own daughter’s First Holy Communion raped and murdered the eight-year old daughter of one of his neighbours and then hid her body under the floorboards of the bathroom in his family home. Every single one of my classmates knew there was something evil about this guy from our first day at High School.

    I am not in any position to judge what sort of state his soul was in on the day he met his maker, but I can tell you that he hung himself on the evening before he was due to be released on parole having become the longest serving lifer in the Scottish prisons (here, except in highly exceptional circumstances, life doesn’t mean life).

    But that said, I do agree with what you say. Yes, we may be challenged in having to deal with and accept and, yes, to love some people because of appearance or behaviour. Christ didn’t turn up his nose at lepers or cripples.

  14. SusanBVarenne says:

    I have three married children and six grandchildren and was a public school teacher in New York for years. I have great sympathy for the blind, the lame, the afflicted, and for those who annoy us without knowing what they are doing. So many people have terrible struggles and I often think of Philo’s great insight: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Harder to deal with are mother-in-law criticisms, sister-in-law snubs, and other things that feel personal and malicious. For these I sure do need the resurrection glasses!

  15. Supertradmum says:

    We are all, in some way, limited and sinful, annoying and incomplete. How I accept my own limitations, and realize every moment of the day, that I need the mercy of God, then I treat others exactly the same as God treats me, with my little heart enlarged by His Grace alone. Love is much more easy to give than criticism or judgement. The key is being objective about one’s self.

  16. I think it is a wonderful thing, and very proper, to see the presence of Christ in other persons. God wills for all of us to be conformed to perfect likeness with His Son. It is another thing entirely that most people don’t want that for themselves. But even with the most horrid sinners, there is always the possibility that they will one day let themselves receive God’s grace.

    I have only been able to do this in the case of one person, who is perhaps the person in the world who has been kindest to me. I am a long way off from being able to see Christ in those I have a more strained relationship towards. Yet sometimes I have pictured Christ, or a guardian angel, standing behind other persons and looking down at them with perfect love. And that seems to help.

  17. Long-Skirts says:

    “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces.” — Gerard Manley Hopkins ”

    GIFT
    OF
    THE
    SIXTH
    SORROW

    Have you received
    Christ’s body dead
    Like the sorrowful Mother
    Who cradled His head?

    Christ’s body dead
    Is the death of a child
    Deformed or sickly
    Did you feel beguiled?

    Christ’s body dead
    Is the gift of disease
    Physical, mental
    Can’t do as you please.

    That’s because Christ
    Wants to be close
    To you who accepts
    The sixth sorrow’s dose.

    He chose you of hope
    To cradle His head
    For you know what is life
    And what really is dead.

    Climb Golgotha hill
    For you can handle
    So others can see
    Your light like a candle

    That Christ is with you
    Before and behind,
    And they’ll follow your path
    To the tomb quite resigned

    Where quietly gently
    All suffering will rest
    And your head will be cradled
    At our Lady’s breast.

    Oh sons of sorrow
    The gift – your breath…
    You’ll breathe at your birth
    Due to Christ’s body’s death.

  18. LaudemGloriae says:

    There is a passage in Faustina’s Diary wherein our Lord tells Faustina to find a ciborium that has been left out and to place it in the tabernacle. She does this with careful reverence. Then our Lord tells her to treat everyone she meets with the same care and reverence. That image has always spoken very powerfully to me and I try to remember it. Regardless of who makes it to heaven, each of us while still in this life is God’s child and (hopefully) indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

  19. tioedong says:

    “what a blessing it becomes to begin to see with spiritual eyes and behold the image of the emaciated baby as she really is, whole, to touch the cripple in the wheelchair and say hello, to visit a friend or acquaintance in the hospital or nursing home with a great big smile, and to stop by the table with the Down child and touch his shoulder and tell him and his parents what a wonderful family they are.”.

    You notice, it’s not about these folks, but about the author’s wonderfulness. He sees these people as pets: pat them on the head and voila, a way to prove he/she is wonderful to be nice to them.

    What is missing? A sermon encouraging folks who actually do the messy job of caretaking, saying they are doing God’s work. They are all over the place, including among your readers.

  20. Laura R. says:

    Phillip, I was thinking about the C.S. Lewis quotation too. You beat me to it!