The field of clinical psychology peaks my interest. Of late, I have been reading and seeking out the perspectives of people who really encounter serious sadness and tragedy in others, trying to assess how I can even improve my own mindset.
There is an adage that often gets thrown around to capture what happens when someone who feels extremely wronged or confused: "perception is reality". This is peculiar to me because it means we don't share any common experience of what is happening around us; instead, our personal experience of what is happening is what determines what really happened.
In this sense, the appearances of things, as strange as they may seem, matter much more than we really know.
But if this is the case, how do you explain appearances that don't make sense? How do we make sense of senseless acts of violence perpetrated against others? How do we make sense of a young person lashing out on others? Can we even dare to make sense of the radical disregard for the sanctity of human life even immediately after childbirth? Can we make sense of the trauma inflicted on another from a loving family member or even ordained priest?
If appearances are what matter the most, there is absolutely no way to make sense of any of this.
On the feast of St. Joseph, I think I found the answer in the Magnificat Lenten Companion:
St. Joseph planned to divorce Mary quietly when he found out that she was with child. Mary appeared to have been unfaithful, but that wasn't the case, for, as the side view mirror reminds us, appearances are not reality... If Joseph had a mirror to look into when he washed his face after waking up from this dream [God told him Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit], it could well have said, "Events in life are stranger than they appear." When etched on our lives, such a statement serves as a reminder and an invitation to trust in the seemingly strange providence of God, for us as it was for St. Joseph. For though events in our lives may appear to be strange and disconcerting, yet there is a provident reality within.
St. Joseph has always provided for the people of God. Perhaps his greatest provision is His example of faith. His faith in God led him to have faith in Mary. May his intercession continue to bestow the gift of faith on our school community; faith in God, faith in His providence, and even faith in His instruments of providence - us people who sometimes are not as loving as God was and is to us.
We can all say yes like St. Joseph. I would suggest moving forward instead of backward. It is easier to see through the fullness of a windshield instead of the narrowness of a rear view mirror.
- Derek Tremblay, Headmaster