The desire to reveal my identity was strong. The reasons behind remaining anonymous were better. In the long run, I made the right choice.
Writing my experience has been therapy beyond measure. Comments have put me in contact with a reality I didn’t know existed: others like me who have gone through the same ordeal. The connect is healing and encouraging. The positive results are an emotional high.
I hide behind a new mask. It lets me express who I am more freely. Taking it off, I would be afraid to say what I really want to. For me, for now, it’s a good mask. It helps me be who I am.
This theme of “Masks ” has been a recurring thought ever since I learned of Fr Maciel’s daughter. Hiding behind a mask you can be someone you’re not, or be who you really are. There are good masks and bad masks.
No need to illustrate bad masks. We have all seen, no, we have experienced what that means. When bad masks fall they shatter hard. They shatter us. Bad masks are good masks hiding bad things. Bad masks mean scandal.
All masks hide something.
Shortly after sending my open letter, I talked with the coworker in our community. He went home the other day. He had a very good year, because he is a very good person. We spoke about masks, and he said, “Is there anyone who doesn’t wear a mask? I mean, we are all sinners, but we just can’t blurt out our sins to everyone. What I mean is, if anyone really knew what we were on the inside, they would see how we are all hypocrites.”
There is a divide between who we are and what we show. It’s a mask, but it’s needed. It’s called prudence or self-restraint. If one acts on the impulse of fallen human nature (that thing we hide behind the mask) the consequence is devastating. That’s called sin. But we need to take off the mask and reveal the thing. There’s a time and a place for that: conscience exam and confession.
I was doing spiritual exercises in Cheshire one year. During that week a seminarian who had been a novice with me came to visit with a friend. His friend said to me afterwards, “I was watching you during exercises. Man, you are so holy!” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Holiness is a journey, a spiritual battle, a becoming on the inside what we portray on the outside, striving to no longer wear a mask. We will all get there when our clock stops ticking. Some reach it sooner. We call them saints.
What is a good mask? A mask you hide behind while you work to take it off.
What is a bad mask? A mask you work on to hide who you really are.