Spirituality for Today – April 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 9

Behind the Scenes

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of a rocky landscape

There are no earthly witnesses to what occurred behind that stone that covered the entrance of the tomb. What did happen, of course, has been witnessed by many, recorded in the greatest and most popular book ever written, and will affect humanity until the end of time. The resurrection of Our Lord is the up-front result of the action that miraculously opened the grave, opened heaven, and opened all hope for the human race. With universal rejoicing, the Church celebrates the Risen Christ.

One might wonder what events laid the groundwork for the emergence of the great figures in human history. The old and now anachronistic saying, "Behind every successful man, stands a woman" exemplifies this theme. If the truth be known, the great geniuses have depended on the contributions of many individuals who remain uncredited, but whose efforts – behind the scenes – were essential for the success of their projects. When examining the lives of the persons outstanding in holiness throughout Church history, more often it was those who followed them that brought to fruition the ideas that motivated the founding saints. The needs of the times seem to invigorate the Holy Spirit to raise men and women to meet the challenges of the Church in their world. Don't despair. That same Spirit guides the Church still.

Behind the scenes, Christ's spirit is already at work and is no respecter of persons. He strives with all because he desires that all would be saved. This is as true today as when Emperor Constantine; the youthful Perpetua and Felicity; the British abolitionist William Wilberforce; the young urban lawyer Augustine; the wounded soldier Ignatius; or the young son of an Assisi cloth merchant Francis, found conversion. In all these cases, the world was unaware of the interior dialogue going on in their minds. Jesus gets into your head.

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Christ present in many obvious ways is also present in many unexpected and surprising ways as well. In all the manifestations of faith in action, in all the charitable responses of the Church to local and global crises, in both institutional and personal responses to those in need, Jesus Christ is "behind the scenes" giving wisdom and courage to the faithful in their movements.

Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote, "Our task is to help people concentrate on the real, but often hidden event of God's active presence in their lives. Hence, the question that must guide all organizing activity in a parish is not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence." The call of the wondrous event on that first Easter Sunday is to realize that God lives – and that God lives in his people providing the assurance, hope, and impetus to witness to God's Truth.

Finally, the understanding of what the terms "behind the scenes" convey is far from the "off-camera", "behind the stage scenery", or "behind closed doors" expressions do. Viewing this notion on a spiritual plane, a person stands before the experiences of his daily life and responds to all that the day holds not depending on his own resource, but bolstered by the prayers and influence of the faith community, the moral teaching of the Church, and, especially, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Isaac Newton spoke humbly of his genius and of his accomplishments by saying that if he managed to see a little farther or a little clearer, he did so by "standing on the shoulders of giants." Newton recognized the insights and revelations of so many past thinkers who added to the deposit of knowledge that provided his own thinking with many stepping stones leading to his own discoveries. Every person acknowledging God as the author of their life and the destiny of their hopes and dreams is equipped with the gifts necessary to use properly and effectively their conscience. Every person who appreciates and understands the contributions of the loving and caring people in their lives are blessed beyond their greatest hopes. Every person, in other words, who stands tall because of those – behind the scenes – who fashioned and strengthened their goodness are fully alive.

Unknowing as we might be regarding the mysteries of the Resurrection, the conviction that the Risen Lord journeys through life with us is all we need to step through the curtain and enter the stage of worldly existence confident of our competence to serve God and neighbor as an Easter people.