Esse est percipi #3

Once more with feeling!


Esse est percipi:

The following excerpt comes from pages 67-68 in my book (above). Perhaps these observations will speak to some readers on this Holy Thursday in preparing for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

“The eighteenth century British philosopher, Bishop Berkeley, bequeathed to us this tidy little saying, esse est percipi, “to be is to be perceived.” It may not explain existence very convincingly to a twenty-first century audience, yet it does offer a valuable spiritual insight: Individuals or communities are “real” insofar as they are willing and able to be seen honestly and completely by an Other. I take its converse to be equally true: To be unseen, to remain hidden, means to be unreal: To the extent that anyone hides from self or conceals portions of his life from God and others, he remains unreal. He skulks in the shadows. He pretends.

“We become “real” with Christ when we let him truly see us – when we are truly vulnerable before him and before others. This requires transparency, mutuality, and reciprocity. Liturgy can be a powerful vehicle for drawing us towards greater authenticity with God, self, and others.”

Holy Saturday:    I find in several of the smaller gestures, really, gems, of the Triduum a special witness to an aspect of our lives as disciples: the reposition of the Sacrament away from the church, the stripping of the altar, the empty tabernacle, the sparse solemnity of the Good Friday service. These speak to me of the absence of Christ in the world. Not in the “God is dead” way. Perhaps it’s about the silence of God in the world.

Either way, these help me recognize & name the incompleteness of my life in terms of living in Christ. And these can elicit my longing, or frustration, or fear, or resentment, or hope while I await the fulness of God.


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