As we did we began to notice things about ourselves that we never had been aware of before. We began to see ourselves as others did. It was truly enlightening as we came to such acknowledgements as, “Wow, I never realized I have so many distracting gestures and annoying mannerisms I have” or “Do I always have such off-putting facial expressions?” Our homiletics professor taught us a good lesson. He would say, “If this is hard for you to watch, think of your future congregations who will have to endure you Sunday after Sunday.”
It reminds me of the old euphemism: “The camera never lies.” It’s a saying that came about at the time of the invention of the camera. Before that, the most common way to capture a person’s image was through painting – and that could be quite subjective. The artist could chose not to paint in embarrassing blemishes and wrinkles and soften our features. But with a photograph (back then anyhow) you could not be touched up. Photos would catch people in their true state – with all of their flaws laid bare for all to see.
That’s what Lent should be like. Through the lens of Lent we come to look at ourselves more actually and honestly. When we do that we begin to see that maybe there are areas in our lives where we are in greater need of spiritual help than we had realized.
How enlightening it would be if someone would film us for a day, without us realizing it, and then play it back for us to watch with a group of other people. What might you notice as you observe yourself interact with others? How do you behave as you are driving in your car? What would others see as they are watching you at Mass? What would the camera reveal during the times you are spending time alone when you think nobody else is watching?
Many spiritual directors encourage doing an examination of conscience at the end of each day. That’s always the most practical way for us to review our day so that we can pay attention to and amend our flaws and fallen habits.
And, every year, God gives us the forty days of Lent. We’re coming to the half-way mark so there’s still plenty of time to do some good heart searching and spiritual cleansing. Lent on, good people!