A puppet-master or puppeteer is a person who manipulates puppets, inanimate objects for the sake of entertainment.  A puppet is movable model of a human or an animal. Some puppets are worked with strings and some with the hand.

A political term, puppet, means a person, party, or state under the control of another person, group, or power.

Over the years, I have noticed something about certain people. A true person has integrity, which is not only honesty, but the state of being whole and undivided. Authenticity in a person is the quality of being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character These definitions are from dictionaries on line.

Now, authenticity and integrity imply that a person knows who he or she is and accepts that truth. Humility, obviously, marks the authentic and integrated person.

Some people I have known create a role for themselves, create a false idea of who they are: I think of the character of Henry Gowan in Little Dorrit, who created deceit in his life as to who he was, what his talents were, and he became not only a manipulator, but one easily manipulated. Evil does both–manipulates and capitulates to manipulation.

People without integrity find it easy to compromise for the sake of their own created roles or false expectations.  People who seem like they are not “real”, people who seem like they are hiding behind a mask, have created a persona instead of finding out who they are and who God created them to be.

Truthfulness brings about a humility before God. One sees who one really is and accepts this honest view has a chance of being a saint. As long as a person either lives up to false expectations or shows the world a false face, that person cannot gain the objectivity necessary to become holy.

A lack of integrity may be seen in a person who wants to be something he or she is not, and who wants others to accept that false persona. Sometimes, one can sense when speaking with a person who is inauthentic that something is not “right”. One feels like one is speaking to an incomplete human being, or even a completely false person. One may feel like one is meeting a dark soul, or, even a puppet. A puppet can be easily manipulated by another, by the puppeteer.

Who is the puppet-master? Who pulls the strings of these inauthentic human beings? Satan does.

If a person keeps pushing away hints on how to be “real”, that person can easily lose track of reality. Satan takes advantage of this running away, this self-inflicted deceit.

Puppets enact games, manipulations, entertainments. Puppeteers move these sad, incomplete puppets.

Sometimes people accept a false grouping of inauthentic people. Some people may choose to join sub-groups in order to identify with others who have chosen lives which lack integrity. A person who chooses over and over again the high moral road will become integrated. A person who compromises for the sake of comfort or because they have accepted their own false persona will never be integrated without a tremendous moment of grace.

Righteousness is the state of being highly moral. A self-righteous person is one who incorrectly sees themselves as morally superior, and makes a show of being morally superior to other people.

Again, this type of show contains elements of deceit, of the lack of authenticity.

I spoke with a young person today who told me that she thinks that there are very few people who are authentic and integrated. Sadly, many career-driven people are inauthentic, because they have set up a set of expectations in their lives, set up roles and rules to meet, which are not what God has in mind for their lives. The person who desires truth, desires God.

Why would a person choose a life of unreality, out-of-touch with the person God created him or her to be? The most common cause is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of confrontation with others or one’s own self. A second cause is the pursuit of security. If, for example, one’s parents have a set of expectations for a child, that child will try very hard to meet those expectations in order to have the security of the love and approval of the parents, instead of experiencing a true love which is free. A third reason could be that a person desires status or conformity with one’s peers over truth.

God has created each person to be someone unique. God has a plan for each person. Each plan is totally new, different from every other one. Each person has a God-given role in the Church, in the world, which only that person can fulfill.

The puppet-master tries to stop those plans, roles, uniqueness of character. The puppet-master Satan does all he can to disrupt the beautiful plan of God for each person, each family, a people, a nation.

Puppets become controlled by the puppeteer more easily because they are not real.

A form of a human, or an imitation human, needs someone else to move them. Sometimes the puppet-people let others manipulate their lives. Such were the people who followed Hitler, Stalin, Mao. Such are the children of darkness.

The children of light choose honesty and integrity of character.

My young friend who believes that the vast majority of people are either completely inauthentic, or engage in dysfunctional behavior admits she has not met but a few authentic people.

I know two for sure, and both have chosen poverty over comfort, lowliness over status, courage in the face of fearful circumstances. Courage does not mean feeling brave–it means choosing truth while afraid, going beyond fear. One gains courage by practicing choosing truth over falsehood.

I have an authentic son. Here is the voice of authenticity in a relatively young person. Pray for him. Pray for me.

As some of you already know, last week I left formation for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Working in and for the diocese has been the best five years of my life, and I still believe that God is calling me to be a priest. But over the past year or so, I’ve had the distinct call in prayer that my vocation lies elsewhere. In response to that call, I’ve begun inquiries with the Society of Jesus. I don’t know where that will lead yet, but I know that I’m on the right path.

Thank you everyone, particularly the laypersons in positions of responsibility with whom I have lived and worked. It has been a privilege and a pleasure. From my very first pre-seminary placement in Dorking I have been welcomed, entertained, challenged, and supported every step of the way. Whatever I may be doing in the future, my desire to serve the people of Arundel and Brighton will be far more than a memory. You have defined my life and my character, and more than anything or anyone else in my adult life, you have made me the person I am today. You will always be first in my heart and my prayers, and God willing, my relationship with the Diocese will not end.

Bishop Richard and the Diocesan clergy with whom I’ve worked have also been immensely supportive. I met with the Bishop last week and he was, as always, immensely gracious and eager to help me in my next steps. He hopes that I will find time in future to come to Lourdes again with the Diocese; I eagerly look forward to that!

Lastly, the seminarians and enquirers – for many of you, I have been the “senior Wonersh seminarian” for some time. But I am under no illusion of indispensability! I leave the Wonersh community in the very capable hands of Peter Murphy and Thomas Kent, and I have every confidence that they will be holy and effective priests in the not-so-distant future. Tristan Cranfield has been an immense support to me, despite us seeing one another all too rarely! At least this way you’ll definitely beat me to ordination.

This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but in the depth of my heart, and always in prayer, I feel it is the right one. God bless you all, and please, please keep me in your prayers.

Years ago, one of my friends, who is now a priest, had a saying, a motto, when he was in high-school. “Be real, and face the situation.”

This is the way to God, to personal holiness, to being an authentic human being-the one God created one to be. We are all called to cooperate with God in becoming the person God intended. We are all called to co-create the person God wants us to be. We are all called to “be real and face the situation.”

The puppet-master will take the puppets and put them in a box. These puppets will not have life without him. Unlike the living, they will remain dead for all eternity.

Being real takes practice. If one learns this early, one has a great chance of being a saint.

John 14:5-6

Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.