A Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
The Preface of the Christmas Mass tells us: "Through Him, whom we know by
we are drawn to love of things invisible." The Sacraments... these are visible
such as the oil, the bread, wine, human words (prayers), the chalice, a ciborium...
Sacraments become signs and carriers of divine grace... the invisible. God's
of which we receive copious amounts is often invisible.
Saint Francis of Assisi was very much aware of things that are invisible to many
even most of us. He saw the depth and breadth of things invisible that most of us
not be able to comprehend unless we could call ourselves true friends of Jesus
We have ample examples of this - there is an underlying depth in St. Francis'
of Brother Sun" that remains invisible to many of us. And, he was a true friend
Jesus, being allowed to wear His wounds, the Stigmata. Francis understood the
and effect of the Cross well beyond our understanding of it. We know that by His
we are redeemed, we are given a chance to be with God in Heaven for all time,
Francis knew that in order to merit this final reward he would have to suffer the pain
the Cross. We all do... for what is the Cross ... It represents Original Sin. That's
Jesus' suffering was all about. That's the aspect of His Cross that seems invisible to
great many of us. For rolled up into the package of Original Sin are our sins as
Jesus suffered on the Cross for things that are invisible to us.
Very grievous sin. Sins we do not even think about and which we
could not comprehend are being committed every second of the
day by some misguided individual. In short, someone who loves
only him or herself, and the love for God comes up short. Someone
who consciously reasons at the moment of decision: "I matter, God
doesn't." Maybe not in these same words, or sometimes no words
at all (all caution thrown to the wind) but people who commit
serious sin most often think only of themselves and not at all about anyone else or the
consequences of their actions. And more than often, these consequences are things
invisible in the negative sense.
But let us continue to dwell on things invisible in a positive sense. In liturgy, be it
Sacrifice of the Mass, a Benediction, a Baptism, a House Blessing, the Blessing
Animals as Franciscan Friars do on a certain day... in all that and more, we must
the invisible. We are reminded in Scripture "I am the way...He who sees me sees
Father." A purpose of Religion is to announce the coming of the Kingdom. "It
prepare the way for the sacred image of Christ which speaks to the believer out
the memory of the Church."1
The sacred image of Christ is invisible to all, except to those who see Him
contemplation. We believe in God the Father, Christ the Son, and that Godly love
know as the Holy Spirit. But we do not see these Trinitarian figures. They are
to us. Yet they are real. They are a part of what we believe and see in our hearts. And
we believe, then there is no reason to sin, for we know that our sin, collectively
individually is to Jesus a slap in His face, a lash of the whip to His back, a
hammer that drove the nail into His sacred hands. The habit of sin can be broken
those willing to commit to Jesus, to things invisible with Grace that is also invisible. But we
believe that among everything, God will prevail.
We see Him often, weekly, daily at Holy Mass. We see Him in the "breaking of
bread," as the disciples did at Emmaus. The visible Christ is now invisible. But
many of us, He is very present. When He is visible in all we do, then we
conquered sin. Keep working at it. Your reward is eternal life. That stage is
invisible, but it's the only goal in life worth working toward.
1. From "The Art of Being Human." William McNamara, O.C.D., 1967 Echo
(Doubleday & Company)