THE OTHER SIDE
[continued from yesterday]
...Then comes the meeting. There is no halo, perhaps there is instead a rather unruly head of hair. There are no wounds; instead there is a daintiness, almost a foppishness about his fingers that is worthy of a dandy. He has scarcely a wrinkle on his face; on the contrary he is quite aggressively healthy-looking, with not a shade of mortification. His eyes are not cast down, much less are they turned up; rather they twinkle at a joke, look about at every thing of interest, almost make you think of the warning that the eyes are the windows of the soul.
And as for his conversation-well, really! He asks how you are; he talks about the weather; he remarks on the news in the morning paper; he discusses some triviality suggested by a book on the table or a picture on the wall; he propounds just the same commonplace platitudes that everybody else drones out. His behaviour is no less disappointing; so uneven, so given to long silence or else to rather inordinate laughter, so easy-going, so ordinary, perhaps even, if we watch him closely, not always in very good taste.
And this is your saint! We forget that it is ourselves who are to blame. We had no business to divorce our ideal from human nature. In our picture we have eliminated a saint's first characteristic, his hiddenness; but besides, and perhaps worse, we have taken the remarks of others and magnified them so that those who uttered them could never have recognised the original.
They never said he was a saint; they merely said he was a very human being who suited their fancy. They never said he was mortified; they merely said he did not always take sugar in his tea. They never said he was a man of prayer; they merely found him once fingering his beads. We have added the rest; and the poor man gets a bad time of it at our hands....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918