The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Presence of God

“The holiest, most universal and most necessary practice in the spiritual life is the presence of God. To practice the presence of God is to take pleasure in and become accustomed to His Divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly in our hearts with Him at all times, and at every moment, especially in times of temptation, pain, spiritual dryness, revulsion to spiritual things, and even unfaithfulness and sin.” The First Spiritual Maxim of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection.

There is an awkwardness that accompanies time spent with a person or persons that one does not know very well. Try sitting on an airplane…in coach…in the middle seat…with strangers on both sides, and you’ll know what I mean. The introductions and polite small talk are easy enough, but once you’ve exhausted the pleasantries, how do you spend your time for the ensuing flight.

It is far more enjoyable to spend time with someone with whom we have a relationship; someone we know; someone we trust.

I love to go to the movies; I always have. Seeing the movie projected on that huge screen, the rumble of sound system, the popcorn, the thrill of an adventure that was seemingly out of space and out of time are all exciting and attractive to me. Yet, when I was younger, there was one anxiety that somewhat diminished my movie going experience: a stranger sitting next to me in the theater! What if they talked during the movie? What if they tried to talk to me? What if they wanted to use the arm rest? AHHHHHHHHHHH.

I’m over that now, but it illustrates well the point about feeling comfortable in the presence of a stranger.

There is a basic truth that we all must recognize: God is with us. He was present with His people in any number of ways as described in the Old Testament. He became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man so that He was physically present with us for a time. He is with us today in and through the presence of the Holy Ghost, the Counselor, the Spirit of God who indwells each and every one of us. God is never farther away than an airline passenger or a fellow movie-goer.

God is present in our lives even when there is no one else around. He is there in the quiet private times, the busy work times and everywhere in between. He is there in the mundane tasks of daily life and in the soaring worship on Sunday morning. The question that we must answer for ourselves is: How comfortable are we with His presence?

Any plane ride is more comfortable when the persons sitting next to you are friends, even if you don’t say a word to each other for the entire flight. Watching a movie with a friend is far more enjoyable, despite the periodic jockeying for ownership of the armrest.

God is present with us, of that there can be no doubt. The more we work on recognizing and building our relationship with Him, the more comfortable we will be in His presence, and the closer we will become to Him who made and keeps us.

Fr. Michael+

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