Last Wednesday, a beautiful reading came up in the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s an excerpt from the writings of St. Theophilus of Antioch. In it, the saint exhorts us to do whatever we must to “open the eyes of our mind and heart.” He’s talking, of course, about seeing through eyes of faith.
First, an important realization – It’s not an automatic thing; seeing through eyes of faith. It takes work. Some argue that anything that isn’t automatically inbred in ourselves ends up being just smoke and mirrors, a sort of self-deception imposed by hostile outside forces (in this case, a Judeo-Christian society). Proponents of such a position will suggest that the most natural thing is just to let our eyes roam, assigning equally good value to everything. Such ocular non-discrimination is the most natural thing in the world, we’re told.
I’m not quite sure about such a position. After all, some of our greatest assets are learned… for example: speech, writing, art. None of these are automatic at birth but by disciplining ourselves, directing our innate talents, we flourish through our words and our artistic creations. The way we use our eyes is no different. Indeed, as St. Theophilus suggests, the greatest good we can possibly imagine (contact with God) comes through disciplining the senses:
[The senses] distinguish light and darkness, …proportion and lack of proportion, elegance and inelegance, excess and defect… So it is with the eyes of our mind in their capacity to see God.
God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open.
How, concretely, can we keep our eyes open to see God, particularly as we approach Easter?
Again, St. Theophilus offers a suggestion:
A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. If there is rust on the mirror his face cannot be seen in it. In the same way, no one who has sin in him can see God.
Two practical suggestions from a DC Faith and Culture point of view:
- If you’re Catholic, go to Confession, have a direct encounter with the divine physician speaking to you through the words of his priest, “I absolve you of all of your sins. Go, you are free!” All throughout the Washington area, in the weeks leading up to Easter, Confession is readily available at all our parish churches, especially in downtown. Check out this link to the central website: http://thelightison.org It’ll offer lots of tips, schedules and guides to confession throughout our area.
If you’re not Catholic, you’re warmly invited into any of our churches to sit, and talk with God according to where you’re at in your journey with him. Ask him to cleanse you of whatever needs cleansing and to make you ever-more ready to engage him in a relationship whose goal is heaven itself! You might be interested in this recent effort by the Church in downtown DC, “Light the City,” opening our doors to anyone who wants to come and pray. Check out the video on youtube: https://youtu.be/5mr_g-8SOzw
- For everyone in DC: LOOK UP… our city is so phenomenally beautiful. The turrets on our row houses, cornices, small artistic highlights, the edifices of our federal buildings, the ingenious creativity of our modern architecture… All of it is soaked in the very best of the creative spirit God shares with the human race. So often, our city-eyes are downcast avoiding puddles, loose paving stones and the like… and now thanks to our cellphones, we are all too often absorbed in a digital world that – while dazzling – can be so inhuman. If you want to see through eyes of faith, LOOK UP… see God’s creativity at work in man’s city and then keep looking up to the heavens that he desires us to possess one day.