Sacred signs around and within us indicate God’s presence in our lives. By acknowledging them, we acknowledge the divinity of God and the mystery in us. We become more aware of God’s presence as our sensitivity to his attributes in people who live by Christian moral and ethical standards increases. All we need to do is look around: the creative teacher, the compassionate father, the kindly neighbor, a person who forgives easily.
We also find God’s presence in the present moment. Jesus’ love is love today in full flower. To experience life with an orientation of love, here and now, is to live as sons and daughters of God. Now is the point to which we must return if we make a long sojourn to a past memory or a future projection. When present times are hard, or if we are very ill, we can find the grace to live from day to day and keep our thoughts within the brackets of sunrise and the next sunrise. Life can be simplified by seeing each day as a gift from God with no strings attached, by trusting that grace will help us over the rough spots, and by concentrating on the goodness in others and the beauty in the day.
A Franciscan priest lived and worked for most of his life in Detroit. Because his superiors thought he was not smart enough, he was not allowed to preach a sermon or hear confessions. He celebrated Mass in an unassuming, reverent manner. This priest worked for years as the porter (doorkeeper) at various Capuchin monasteries. He spent his days in prayer and in the humble duties that were asked of him. He received an endless line of people who came for his counsel and his prayers. This could be intimidating, but Father Solanus Casey remained serene. He died in Detroit in 1957, at the age of eighty-six. At that time, thousands of people respected and revered him as someone with deep humility and great spiritual depth.
Father Solanus shows how living in God’s presence does not require success, wealth, or brilliance. His life illustrates how the primary sign of God’s presence among us is Christian love. Our love for Jesus glows when we appropriately use our gifts for the common good and consider all tasks, like answering the door and phone, as equal in importance. Our Christian love for others is sustained by the conviction that we are loved by Jesus more than we can understand. Faith, more than feelings or intellect, strengthens our union with him. Friendship with Jesus grows by payer and more prayer. The quality of our prayer is manifest in the quality of our life outside of prayer. Our service takes Jesus’ love to others and brings us back to prayer. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: “Jesus, the very thought of thee, with sweetness fills the breast. But sweeter far thy face to see, and in thy presence rest.”
For more on the presence of God within and around us, read my book: Everyday Holiness, A Guide to Living Here and Getting to Eternity. Available on amazon.com