Authenticity is something I really believe in, if we are not living authentically what is the point of living at all? I honestly believe that if we are not authentic, then who are we really?
Who are you really? Who do you think you are? If you do not even know who you are and are not brutally honest with yourself, how do you function as a person let alone as all the other personas we create for ourselves (friend, son, student, lover, brother, husband, colleague, Christian, Catholic etc...)?
First of all, we need to know who we are in the eyes of God. If we do not base our understanding of ourselves upon this premise, I believe we are doomed to lead false, fragmented and miserable lives.
We are created in the Image and Likeness of God (Book of Genesis), which means that we are made for the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We have been created not to do, but to become. We have been created for LOVE. The foundation of our existence rests upon and is sustained by the Trinity. Only in the light of the Communion of the Tri-unity can we truly become who we are meant to be. The Unity and Communion that exists within the "Immanent Trinity" must be reflected and manifested in ourselves.
As human persons we are triune in the sense that we are:
1 body, soul and spirit (according to St Paul)
2 memory, intellect and will (according to St Augustine)
Yet even those these aspects or parts of our essential personhood are trinitarian, they are also unified as a whole. They are not separate from each other, they are a mysterious unified whole. This then is how our lives should be-unified and not fragmented...in a word AUTHENTIC.
However we all know from our own experience that within ourselves we aren't totally unified, that we are fragmented. There is something that is not unified within us, there is internal conflict-there is disharmony. This fragmentation, discord, this woundedness is what we traditionally call Original Sin. This means that even though we were created in the Image and Likeness of God-who-is-Trinity, we have lost the likeness.
How then do we regain this Likeness? How is it restored? The answer is JESUS CHRIST!
Only Jesus can restore our fallen humanity. He is the Healer of our Souls, the Divine Physician. He is as the Orthodox call Him: Philanthropos (Lover of Man).
We can see clearly in the Gospels how healing and the restoration our human nature is connected with the Kingdom of God and the Economy of Salvation. Jesus Himself showed us how sin and forgiveness are connected with healing of body and soul. (Luke 5:17-26)In short, we could say that to be whole we need forgives and love-we need REDEMPTION.
It is Christ who "fully reveals man to himself" (Gaudium et Spes), therefore we cannot truly understand who we are unless we discover oursleves in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ who Himself is the Light. By becoming one (united) with Jesus in our baptism we die to our false self and rise with Jesus in our restored Likeness. This is authenticity! Unless we know ourselves from the mind and heart of God shown to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, we will never be able to become who we were meant to be.
Now I don't mean all of this in some lovey-dovey positive thinking sense. Rather I mean it from the bottom of my heart. We need Jesus to show us who we are, who we are meant to be and who we can become. Otherwise we create pseudo versions of ourselves. Because of Original Sin we lack an inner harmony, to use an expression of St Paul our members are warring among themselves. The more versions we create for ourselves, rather then becoming who God created us to be-the more fragmented and disjointed we become.
We become so entangled in distorted images that we have created for ourselves we become more and more fragmented. We actually begin to believe the lies we have told ourselves to justify and console our woundedness that we become more and more FALSE. Not only to ourselves but to others. Pope John Paul II said that we can only become who we are meant to be through a "Gift of Self", but how can we do this if we don't even know Who or What we are giving? This leads us to develop a sort of ontological-schizophrenia. Until we understand our human nature, or human condition (as Satre called it) we cannot understand who we are. You cannot give what you do not have-how can you be a Gift of Self if you don't know who you are?
We develop so may false identities for ourselves that we no longer know who we are and some cannot even recognise themselves when confronted with the mirror of reality. How many of us think that we are nice, happy, patient or good people only to respond to confrontation with a barrage of rage and fury? This is because our actions don't conform with the Image we have created for ourselves. This fragmentation can lead to an identity crisis. At the end of the day who are we really? Does the Image we have made for ourselves conform with the Likeness of who we really are or have become? We can get so lost in the the tiny little shards and fragments of our personalit(y/ies) that it can seem hopeless.
Be not Afraid! There is Hope, for salvation is at hand in the Person of Jesus Christ!
We cannot restore ourselves back and start all over again, we cannot piece ourselves together again because our minds (intellect) have become so darkened by sin and lies that we no longer know how to recognise what is true from false within ourselves (authenticity) and the schema (worldview) we have created for ourselves. We need help, we need SALVATION and REDEMPTION.
Jesus is the only one that can save us from all the lies and darkness in our lives. As it says in Psalm 36:9 "in you is the source of life, in your light we see light". He is the one who reveals us to ourselves as we are meant to be. He is Fully Human and Fully Divine. When we unite ourselves with His Humanity, or rather allow him to become one with us then he will raise our fallen humanity and restore our Likeness. He who was a unified whole in the Hypostatic Union, will now restore (unify) us as individuals and then unite us as a Communion in the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ with Jesus as Head. He will "recapitulate" (St Irenaeus) all of our fragmented and broken lives into a redeemed and recreated unity."May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they may also be in us.." John 17:21.
This is what I mean by authenticity. It's not pretending to be someone you are not. It's not trying to be someone else. It's not about being pious or looking holy. It's about being YOU! You need to be the person God created you as, nothing more and nothing less. You are unique and loved, because of this you can only discover yourself in Love (Agape). You need to sacrifice your(pseudo)self so that Christ can reveal your true self to you. Matthew 10:39 "anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it". It's not about what we can do for Jesus, instead we need to let Him form us, recreate us and SAVE us. Salvation isn't earned, it is a pure Gift.
Once we can learn to abandon the false idols and Golden Calf of our false self image, then with our pure "naked desire" (Cloud of Unkowing) we will have emptied ourselves enough for God to work his redemption within us. Only then can we receive the revelation and the "Good News" of the God-Who-is (Yahweh) pure Being so that we can experience Him as Salvation in the Person of Jesus (Yehoshua in Hebrew means "Yahweh Saves") and become who we are meant to be in Christ Jesus.
This authenticity requires a "renewal of the mind" Romans 12:2 so that with the "mind of Christ" Philippians 2:5 we can put on the "Helmet of Salvation" Ephesians 6:17 and become truly human. This requires for us an "obedience of faith" Roman 1:5 so that in emptying ourselves of the falseness within us we can be filled with "every spiritual blessing in Christ" Ephesians 1:5 and with the Grace of God become authentically human so that you can be YOU.
Hopefully now you can see why authenticity is so important for me and why i believe so. I often fall short of my own ideals and I am the first one to admit this. However what you see with me is what you get. I try my best to not be someone that I am not. This is me, with all my spectacular faults and failings-but I hope in my vulnerability that you will see me as I am. Not who you want me to be, or who you think that i should be-but me as I am, as God created me and is in the process of redeeming and sanctifying me.
This is why at times I may seem to "raw" or full-on. This is why people see me as being an "irascible hermit", but maybe that is part of a persona I have developed and created over time. Pray for me that the day will come soon when all of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) AMEN
St Jerome-pray for us!