Whether you go out to a Halloween party this year or remember Halloween celebrations from times past, “going as someone else” is part of the ritual involved. We wear clothes that transform us into someone else we have chosen to become and we wear masks. We are temporarily other than who we are.
Beginning with ancient times and cultures, people, taking part in rituals native to their clan, wore masks. The mask allowed them to become the fire god, the demon, the holy one, the alpha ancestor. Those who wore masks found themselves thinking and acting like the figure they personified. Wearing masks temporarily takes us off the hook for answering for ourselves and our actions. One Halloween, when I was dressed as a pumpkin, with padding that enlarged and changed my look, several masked people pushed me deliberately and rudely. They would have been chagrined to know who they were really pushing around. I didn’t expect that, but am not surprised. Masks allow us to be intemperate, to do things which we would think twice about doing in our ordinary lives. But masks do not necessarily bring out the worst in us.
The Lone Ranger, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Avengers are among the many masked figures of our culture. They worked for good in their own way. Masks do not always diminish us.
I think of the Scriptures, where some characters wore disguises. That’s how Jacob, instead of Esau, won his blessing from his father. Levi (Matthew) and Zacchaeus wore the mask of the tax collector. There must have been some core of goodness and openness to God that Jesus perceived in them that caused him to welcome them despite their public image. Names can be considered masks of sorts.
At the time of deep interior change, being given a new name is a way of announcing to the world that the mask is off. Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter.
In our families, we sometimes wear masks. Do they hide or reveal who we are – who we are striving to be?
With our public face, do we reveal who we really are? Think of the microphones, hidden backstage, which revealed the political figures true thoughts not said onstage.
Jesus wore no masks. He was who he was. Before God, we can wear no masks. We can try, of course, to wear one, but that only shows how little we know of the God who knows us through and through. (Psalm 138. Read it all.)
~Sister Joan Sobala
PS. Don't miss these upcoming Fresh Wind In Our Sails Programs.
Wednesday, November 4, 7 – 8:30 pm
Finding Faith: A Couples Story
Location: SSJ Motherhouse
Marlene Bessette was a non-practicing Catholic and Eric Bessette was an avowed agnostic when they met. They pushed and pulled each other along to spiritual places neither would have imagined.
Saturday, November 7, 10 am to 3 pm
Retreat Day at SSJ Motherhouse
Theme: Becoming More Deeply Who We Are
Presenter: Sister Joan Sobala