Living in the Presence of God1. The ability to live always in the presence of God is the foundation of the spiritual life. It is an unquestionable fact that we are always in the presence of God. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) But we must be aware of this divine presence. If we really live all the time in the presence of God, we shall be able to avoid sin, practise virtue, and enjoy God's close friendship. How can we offend God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Judge, if we remember that we are being watched by Him? “If we reflect on the presence of God,” says St. Thomas, “we shall hardly ever sin.” (Opusc., 58:2) “If we keep ourselves always in the presence of God,” writes St. John Chrysostom, “we shall think no evil, say no evil, and do no evil.” (Hom. 8 ad Phil., 2)
When we are always aware of God's presence and realise that He is absolute truth, goodness and beauty, we shall be moved to love and imitate Him. “Walk in my presence and be perfect.” (Gen. 17:1) Because God is our only true good, we shall try by every means in our power to live close to Him and to offer Him all the thoughts, desires and actions of our day. The rare moments of formal prayer will not be enough for us then, but we shall long to be in constant communication with God.
When boiling water is moved away from the fire, it gradually loses its heat. It is the same with us, St. John Chrysostom remarked, when we move away from our awareness of God. We must live in His presence all the time and must check ourselves immediately if we notice that we are slipping away from this ideal.
2. The masters of the spiritual life advise us as to the best way to cultivate an awareness of the presence of God. (Cf. S Alphons., Al Divino Servizio, III, 3) This may be done by employing the intellect to form the concept of God's nearness and by using the will to offer to Him ourselves and everything around us with acts of humility, adoration and love. The intellect, enlightened by faith, tells us that God is everywhere. “Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:24) We should see Him in all His creatures which reflect His eternal glory. “Learn to love the Creator in the creature,” says St. Augustine, “so that you may not become attached to created things and so lose Him by Whom you yourself were created.” (In Ps. 19)
When we wish to revive in our minds a sense of the presence of God, we should not picture Him as a distant Being, but as our own God Who condescended to dwell within us. We should then listen to His inspirations and humbly venerate His divine majesty which resides in our souls. “Do you not know,” asks St. Paul, “that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) God is everywhere, but He dwells in a special manner in our souls. It is difficult for us, however, to live with our minds constantly concentrated on Him. If we were able to do so, this would be an anticipation of the happiness of the Blessed in Heaven. But we should have a habitual intention, which we should renew as often as possible, of living in the presence of God and of offering Him all our desires and actions. Then our whole life will be a continual prayer of great value in the sight of God.
3. My dear Mother Mary, you who lived in the intimate presence of God, obtain for me also this great grace, so that I may avoid sin, do good, and love God upon earth in the hope of enjoying Him forever in Heaven. Amen.
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