My father died eleven years ago. But what
he taught me still lingers in my heart. "Son,
keep your eyes always open because life can
teach you many things, more things than you
can ever learn at school. Life is the real
Following this advice, I glanced inquisitively
through the book that was lying on the table.
The name was appealing, The Wisdom of the
Cloister, an anthology of readings taken
from monastic writings. There, I found a
story that in the beginning I did not understand
but the more I reflected on it, the more
I realized the depth of this anecdote.
Patrick one day wakes up to find out that
he has become invisible. He can see his watch
and reads the hour but he does not see his
wrist. His pajamas stand upright but there
is no one in them. He has become invisible!
He goes out and it is amusing to see people
who cannot see him. Everyone keeps walking
besides him without noticing him. He even
hears them speaking but there is no interaction.
When he speaks to them, they do not answer.
What was amusing in the beginning, however,
turns out to be tiresome. He starts feeling
isolated and alone.
Then, he make a discovery. He notices that
if he uses make-up on his face and puts on
certain clothes then he can be seen by others.
This is what he does. He gets into specific
clothes and puts on a lot of cosmetic and
now he can interact and intermingle with
the other people. He is happy. He feels like
But his happiness is short-lived. Because
he discovers that the others also are invisible,
simply they do not know it. He realizes that
he is not relating to persons but to the
cosmetics and clothes of the persons. He
is speaking to facades and masks! It is not
real persons who speak to each other. In
life, he finds out, one interacts with cosmetics
and clothes. Every one's true identity is
invisible! This is why everyone is unknown
and terribly alone!
One and all has his own uniform, his own
type of clothes. Those wearing blue do not
like those wearing red and those wearing
red do not like those wearing blue. They
spend all their lives comparing and confronting
each other. Everyone is divided into factions
and each faction keeps a distance or meets
head-on with the other bloc.
This is sad, Patrick argues. The fact that
you are not yet dead is not sufficient proof
that you are alive. It takes more than that!
What can he do?
Suddenly, he has "a blinding intuition
- like a child seeing the sun rising in the
morning for the first time". He finds
out that once, a Man lived without clothes
and make up. He lived naked! He went around
without uniform, interacting with everyone,
keeping himself open to all. He did not fall
into any cliques. He managed to relate to
persons and not to masks! Somehow, being
naked, he was able to love and His love dissolved
all the barriers which kept one person away
from the other.
So Patrick decides to follow in his footsteps.
He starts a long process of undressing from
his clothes and washing away all his make-up.
It is not easy and the journey is long. But
somehow he realizes that it is worthwhile.
He understands that only if he learns to
live with "the solitude of the mystery
of his being and his total poverty",
that his life would acquire a meaning and
a real happiness.
The mystics, these deep lovers of God, had
this same intuition when they spoke about
"Nudus, nudum Christum sequere"
- Latin for "Naked, let us follow the
John Wesley is protestant, the founder of
the Methodists. But what he says here is
valid. "To abandon all, to strip one's
self of all, in order to seek and follow
Jesus Christ naked to Bethlehem where He
was born, naked to the hall where He was
scourged, and naked to Calvary where He died
on the cross, is so great a mystery that
neither the thing nor the knowledge of it,
is given to any but through faith in the
Son of God."
Patrick enters a church where Mass is being
said. The priest, a truly spiritual man,
sees him in his invisibility. Patrick himself
feels called to let himself be taken up into
the movement of Christ's sacrifice - this
total gift of the Father out of love for
Patrick eats the Body of Christ. He drinks
His Blood. And finally the miracle happens.
The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ gives
his nakedness a visibility! He is visible,
but in a different way! He starts seeing
the others. He can communicate with them
beyond their uniforms. He can relate now
person to person.
He can start loving them. "But I, being
poor, have only my dreams… Tread softly because
you tread upon my dreams" (W.B. Yeats).
He starts treading softly towards the others.
And in this love he discovers who he is.
He is saved. He is no longer alone. Jesus
Christ has made it again!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright