I was taking part in a discussion about Catholic school experiences. My fellow discussers were telling "horror" stories and generally mocking their experiences. I was pointing out all the positive experiences and effects my 12 years of Catholic schooling had given me.
It hit me that our differing perceptions were in their own ways true, but that our "truths" were formed by what we chose to remember.
As I put it elsewhere: One thing I've learned is that how we perceive something depends in large part on how we choose to perceive it.
I thought of St. Francis and lepers.
When he was young, he abhorred lepers, as did many people in his society. They were ugly, deformed, diseased. They had open wounds. They were missing body parts. They were believed to be highly contagious. There were often dirty and smelled. They were treated as outcasts, as vile sinners.
But when he learned to look with the eyes of faith, he saw Christ in them. They were beautiful. They were to be loved.
The lepers had not changed. Francis did.
In the same way, saints over the years perceived the beauty in others the world often regarded negatively. Mother Teresa. Catherine Doherty. Dorothy Day. Father Damian. Peter Claver.
I think of so many good people today who run homeless shelters, health clinics, hospices, who work with the physically and mentally and spiritually ill.
These holy people are not blind. They see the sicknesses, the deformities, the sins. But they choose to focus on what is good and beautiful.
They choose to focus on Jesus in others.
I pray that I might find the strength to choose to see what they see.
Pax et bonum