Beauty in Disguise
After nearly 60 years of pastoral and academic work, of studying, writing preaching and teaching, I offer the following few pages as my most honest, clearest and truest understanding of the meaning of Incarnation, the central teaching of our Christian faith. You could say it has taken me all this time to find my authentic heart, the cantus firmus (my enduring melody), and to risk singing it’s truth. This is my effort to find and restore a lost vision, to dig, out of the rubble of a broken Institution, the most exciting and beautiful treasure of an astonishing beauty.
Do you know, for instance, that all your loves are God’s love made flesh? Do you believe that there’s an eternal beauty about you as you keep trying to do the best you can each day? And do you accept that you are worshipping God in your many chores and family routines even if you no longer go to Church? Why were we never told about these most marvellous truths? Why, in fact, were we told the opposite? Did you ever hear in a homily, or read in a spiritual book that God is intimately present to you in every cell of your being, every emotion and experience, every breath you take, every beat of your heart. You are made in God’s image. You already sense this in your deepest soul, made as you are, in God’s image, full as you are, from the first moment of your birth, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Beauty in Disguis is written to reassure you that you are right; to convince you even more that your life and its unfolding, the world itself and its evolving mysteries, are all utterly full of God’s beautiful presence.
Like me, you may be angry that our Church never revealed to us this most tender and touching, this most beautiful and transforming story of a Parent-God, an infinitely precious Mystery, whose very essence is the lives you live, and the world and universe you live in. Generations of Christians are dying without ever hearing that stunning story of their divine identity, and the eternal worth of their most menial work, of every tiny act of love, forgiveness or hope. We try not to blame anyone or anything for the most spiritually abusive indoctrination and flawed beliefs that so many of us grew up with, and that still abound today. The continual flood of severe criticism keeps pouring across the social media of the world. Pope Francs has reserved his harshest words for the clerical culture of a narcissistic Institution. And Jesus only lost his temper with the holy hypocrites of his time.
The excitement that pervades these pages springs from the belief that that a divine healing power is already moving within each of us, and within all of creation. Once this revelation is taken seriously by the churches, and by ourselves, then our efforts for peace and equality, for justice and joy, will spread like wildfire. There is another way of living our days on this troubled earth. We will need many courageous conversations. There may be cul-de-sacs and open highways. And in all our efforts nothing goes to waste – every effort, every set-back, every daily disappointment and mistake, even temptations and sins – all are transformed. All belong. And all are safely harvested.
(From an unpublished article by Daniel O’Leary)