Holy God, you see me and you hear me.

Through my mask, you see if I smile or if I scowl.

Through my mask, you hear me if I whisper a brief prayer or mutter a muffled curse.

My friends don’t see or hear or know; nor do my family; nor my colleagues.

But you do.

This mask takes away power – the power of clear communication but also the possibility to infect. But it also grants a freedom to be with.

My smiles, my thoughts, my mumbles, though – these I know, but they are a greater mystery to others now.

But not to you, Lord. You see past my mask, you hear through it, you know.

But your mask, Lord, what about your mask? Who can see through your mask? Hear through it?

I cannot.

I cannot see if you smile or if you scowl.

I cannot hear if you whisper an answer to my prayer or brush off my curse.

I cannot sense if you are pleased with me or if you are waiting for me to do much better.

Can we all take off our masks, Lord? Put them away?

When the disease that moves us to mask our faces for safety fades away, will our eyes and our ears be stronger, better able to see and to hear the smiles and the frowns, the cries and the whispers of those who fill our lives? Who make our lives worth living?

Will we see, Lord, that what we think of as your mask is really also our own, our inability to find you in the rush of our lives, our failure to see you in all the wonders you show us, our incapacity to hear your gentle voice in the tumult that surrounds us.

Can we know, Lord, that we put on many masks so we can cope, avoid, pretend, be acceptable? (What scar did the Phantom’s mask hide? “Who was that masked man?”)

Help us, Lord, to move beyond our masks. You are here for us to see and to hear. Help us. Let us take off our masks.

 – Fr. Edward Schmidt SJ

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