We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The eyes have it: new glasses; new ways and things to see.

The Old
The New

Some months ago, the eyes were given a new "look".

New glasses, i.e., spectacles, eyewear, specs, can be an opportunity to expand or contract one's horizons. Anyone who has ever worn progressive lenses, bifocals or trifocals, will tell you there is a period of readjustment during which the eyes are retrained and adjust to the "new view". For some, the adjustment period can last a day or two or extend to two or more weeks. Some abandon the process because the "new view" puts more strain on the wearer than the wearer can bear. Perhaps something went wrong with the assessment process during which the patient's eyes were examined and an inaccurate prescription was determined? Perhaps one has become so accustomed to bad habits that one cannot see that the habits are bad and in need of release?

My previous set of glasses were barely useful. The frames imposed a narrow field of vision, even though the sellers of said frames and lenses assured me that they were the only kind appropriate to my field of work. Experience proved that advice to be severely lacking. Thankfully, my latest experience has proven to be much more conducive to my situation. The sellers of my new eyewear not only took into consideration the requirements of my profession, they found frames which have a considerably wider field of view so that the top of the glasses no longer cuts across the heads of people with whom I am speaking. In the prior experience, I allowed myself to be conned by the fashion of the day. I should have been more insistent that the frames were going to be problematic by obstructing or constricting a field of vision necessary for my work. In the latter or latest experience, the optometrist and her assistants provided informed advice and acknowledge their responsibility to fit the frames and lenses to the wearer, not the other way around.

The new glasses are excellent. Of course, an adjustment period is necessary, both for the eyes and the pocketbook. My eyes must retrain out the bad habits I had developed by adjusting to the former prescription that was awkward at best.

One tends to develop many bad habits over seven years: bad posture; repetitive stress injuries caused by constantly shifting one's head to accommodate restrictive aspects of poorly constructed lenses. Anyone who has been subject to a faulty prescription knows the plague of headaches or neck problems which can develop even in a relatively short period of time.

My new eyewear allows me to see details previously forgotten or suppressed. An accurate prescription opens one up to detail that can only be described as wondrous—the ability to see individual blades of grass, the grasp of minute transformations of thin wisps of clouds, the subtlest of gradations of form and colour formerly hidden among the shadows. New frames can also help foster relationships with others, even if in fleeting ways. Where my older frames tended to convey to others arrogance and aloofness, the new frames are proving to be a boon to inviting others to conversation, or at least a passing smile. Admittedly, one's glasses can lend to one a certain confidence, at least until the novelty wears off and one is left with the facts of one's personality. There is a confidence, however, which has little to do with the character of the frames and everything to do with the ability to see clearly, the ability to recognize detail and to be able to read without having to guess at the text.

Having the Gospel internalized, having the Gospel held up to our lives to help us measure growth in holiness or the lack thereof, is somewhat akin to acquiring new glasses. Faith in Jesus Christ allows us to see things anew, from a wider perspective if we are open to the prescriptions of the Gospel. Or, is that proscriptions? The Gospel does make clear that Christians, if we be Christians, do not do certain things or behave in an undignified way. We are called, rather, to embrace grace, the grace offered by God in Jesus Christ, the grace which enables us to live as disciples of Jesus and to grow in holiness. Grace helps us see our faults and how to correct our vision. A visit to one's confessor in the Sacrament of Penance is a bit like visiting one's optometrist. If one's sight is in need of correction, a priest will offer us the instruction (penance and absolution) that will set our vision aright and help us set our sights on the Lord.

My previous set of glasses were restrictive and only offered a highly restrictive view of reality, or at least the visual dimension of the visible world. My new glasses allow me see without putting a limiting frame around people and places.

The New

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