St. Therese had a saying, “Souls are more different than faces.”
I heard something similar growing up in Catholic school, under the wise and devoted instruction of glowing nuns in flowing habits who appeared to have vast insights into the mysteries of God. I listened intently, but found it difficult to believe that each of the billions of people God had created was absolutely unique and unrepeatable. But the nuns said it was true.
My friends and I seemed pretty similar as far as I could tell. We might have looked different, but I didn’t see how our souls could be all that unique. In fact, my best friend and I thought we were just about exactly alike.
But the nuns taught that each soul was created to reflect one of the Infinite Perfections of God with such beauty and intensity that even the angels would be in awe. And they went on to say that no other soul created before or afterward could possess the same splendor reserved for that particular soul by God….not ever.
But, I was looking at faces. And faces weren’t all that dazzlingly different, and some were almost identical…like twins. So, what was up with all these billions of souls being so individually precious and so beautiful that even God was madly in love with them…with all of them?
First I had to get to know the Lover. Then He began to teach me to look beyond the faces and to see His Beauty in my brothers and sisters. And Therese and the nuns were right. I began to see first the tremendous dignity of each person God has created, and then the fragile loveliness of a soul…more delicate than a butterfly’s wing, and I understood how terrible a thing it is to wound such a creature….one who bears the very Image of God.
And yes, they are all different from one another….so very different. Many people are kind, but they express it in a myriad of ways and degrees.. It is the same with all the other virtues and attributes of God. Each person is a unique and exquisite constellation of Our Father’s Image, imprinted on that soul alone….for all time.
Therese knew this, and that is why she always treated everyone alike, aspiring to have no favorites. Her blood sisters in the convent often complained that she seemed to love the other nuns more than she loved them. But that wasn’t true. She felt great natural affection and familial love for her own sisters, but she knew how to look beyond such human affection, and to love others as God loved them.
When faced with difficult people, it can be helpful to stop and contemplate how much God loves that person. He is truly looking at us and longing for us to gaze in admiration on His beloved creation….to see the potential He sees in them. He desires that we do all in our power to help everyone He places in our path to become the fullness of His Image within them.
Whenever Therese saw another nun committing what appeared to be a “fault,” Therese would remind herself of all the good deeds the offending nun had accomplished, which Therese had not been privileged to see.
Blogging is an excellent venue in which the uniqueness of souls is able to shine, because there are no faces, no gestures, no audible voices. There are only ideas, words, sharing, caring…..things of the spirit, rather than the flesh.
And here, we begin to see that bloggers….like snowflakes, are delightfully different from one another. As I click around and read my favorite blogs and then check out a new blog or two, I am always amazed at the endless variety of expression….even though the bloggers I follow are very much in agreement with one another on matters of Faith and family. Yet, each has a niche. Each has a beauty found nowhere else.
And here in the blogging world, there is the rare opportunity of being able to admire souls, without being distracted by faces.
On those rare occasions in my parish when a baby is baptized during Sunday Mass, the cantor sings a song which begins, “You are God’s work of art…..”
You are! We all are! Like the song says, “There will never be another you…..” God loves you so much, for you resemble Him in a way that no one else ever can. You are so precious to Him that He is waiting to give you a new name in Heaven….a “secret” name, known only to you and to Him.
Just imagine…. all the beauty of creation from its dawn until its end someday is nothing compared to you, for you bear the very Image of God. Truly you are God’s work of art!
Father, grant that we may not hinder your work in our souls, or in the souls of our brothers and sisters, as You, with Divine Love, Wisdom, Goodness and Power are at each moment refining Your Very Image within us. We thank You that we are Your children, destined for Glory in the Kingdom of so Great a Father, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
…..to those who prove victorious I will give some hidden manna and a white stone, with a new name written on it, known only to the person who receives it. (Rev. 2:17) NJB