Thursday, August 2, 2007

How to Remain Aware of the Presence of God

1. It is useful to consider the ways in which we can develop a constant and effective awareness of the presence of God. The first way in which we can do this is by cultivating a lively faithwhich will help us to see God everywhere. Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? (Jer. 23:24)

This kind of faith should deepen our sense of God's presence and inspire in us sentiments of love and gratitude which will guide us in all our actions. We cannot expect that we shall be able to remain in a state of constant contemplation of God, for this is the privilege enjoyed by the blessed in Heaven, for whom faith has been replaced by the Beatific Vision. We must be satisfied with exciting in ourselves as often as possible the active awareness of God's presence. This should be a quiet and peaceful process, not involving undue mental effort or anxiety.

We should be able to attend quite naturally to our work and other obligations, and we should be helped and consoled in this by directing our thoughts to God from time to time in order to offer ourselves to Him. This can easily be done by means of frequent ejaculatory prayer, by renewing at regular intervals our intention of doing everything for the love of God, and by being prepared to endure in complete acceptance of the Divine Will all the hardships and trials of the day. Whenever it is possible, moreover, we should escape from the care and confusion of the world into a quiet church. Here we can kneel in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist and express in intimate prayer our love for Him and our desire to serve Him.

2. Another way of increasing our sense of the presence of God is to perceive Him in all His creatures. St. Thērhse of the Child Jesus loved to contemplate the image of her Creator in the flowers of the field and in the stars of the firmament.

God has created all things for our benefit and He is present in all things. He sees what use we make of them and can judge whether we employ them to honour Him, Who is our beginning and our end. The ray of divine beauty which shines in every created thing should attract us towards its Creator and cause us to adore and serve Him. Whenever we meet a learned and holy person, moreover, the reflection of God's power and goodness is even more compelling. "Learn to love the Creator in the creature," says St. Augustine, "lest the thing which He has made should grip you, and you should lose Him by Whom you also were created." (In Ps., 19)

In other words, let us learn to see the Creator in all His creatures so that these may not enslave us and cause us to lose Him Who is our highest Good.

3. The third way of remaining attentive to the presence of God is to contemplate Him living in ourselves. While it is true that God is present everywhere, He dwells in a special manner in the human soul, which is the masterpiece of creation. When our souls are adorned with His grace, His delight in us is unbounded. I will dwell and move among them. I will be their God and they shall be my people. (2 Cor. 6:16) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)

God dwells among us, therefore, and lives in us as in so many temples. We should recognise His presence and listen to His voice; furthermore, we should adore Him, love Him, and pray to Him. Then we can sincerely claim to belong entirely to Him.