Rediscovering the Presence of God

The times in which we live are often described as “secular.”  This word comes from the Latin “saecula” meaning “world.” Hence our modern age is quite worldly. We may think it has always been so but such is not the case. To be sure, it IS the human condition to be a little preoccupied with ourselves. But previous times have featured a much more religious focus than our own. The Middle Ages were especially known for way in which faith permeated the culture and daily experience. The Rose window to the right presents a typically Medieval Notion: Christ (the Lamb of God) at the center and everything surrounding Him. In those days the holidays were the HOLYdays and one’s understanding of the calendar and the time of year centered around the Church’s calendar of saints and feasts. It wasn’t Winter it was advent, and then Christmastide. Even the word Christmas was ChristMASS. Halloween was the “Een (evening before) all Hallows (All Saints Day). Three times every day the Church bells rang the “Angelus” calling Catholics to a moment of prayer in honor of the incarnation. The Bells also rang summoning Catholics to Mass and vespers. In a previous article in this blog (By Their Buildings You Will Know Them) it was noted that even the architecture of the Middle Ages placed a large church at the center of every town: Those days were not perfect days but they were more spiritual and the Christians everywhere were constantly reminded of the presence of God by the culture in which they lived. Seldom so today. Many people today almost never hear of God on a day to day basis.  

But the truth is, God is everywhere. He indwells his creation and sustains every aspect of it. The Scriptures say that Jesus hold all creation together in himself (Col 1:17). Most people think of creation as a sort of machine or closed system in which we live. But that is not the case. Creation is a revelation of and experience of God’s love and providence. Not one leaf falls to the ground without God leading it there. Not one hair of our head is unknown and provided for by God. We are enveloped by God, caught up into his presence.

It is especially sad for young people today. Some of us who are a bit older remember a time when God was more recognized. I remember that we prayed every day in my PUBLIC school until I was in 6th grade. I remember my 4th grade teacher often reminding me when I got out of line: “God is Watching!” I remember when Christmas (not “winter holidays”)  in School was actually celebrated and that we sang religious songs even in public school well into my High School years. I remember our public high school choir singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and many songs with religious subjects. Can you imagine a public school choir singing today “O let us adore Him, Christ the Lord”  ?  Gone are the days.

But we need to teach and help our young people get in touch with God’s presence.  The culture today will seldom help them. Deacon Curtis in the post below has encouraged us to return to “public displays of affection” for God along with other things such as grace at meals. It is essential, as our world becomes even more secular,  to intentionally “put”  God in our day. There is a website  LIFE AFTER SUNDAY that is dedicated to assisting in this very thing. I recommend it to your attention.

Here too is a video for young people reminding them that God is near, not far. It’s a toe-tapper with a message:

Faith as a”Drug Problem”

In the Gospel for this Sunday’s Mass Jesus says: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44)  Now the Greek word here is Helkuein which means “to draw or to drag”  and the word always implies some sort of resitance. In a way Jesus more than implies that all of us who do believe offered some resistance and the Father had to drag us along! “Oh, not me!” you might say, “I have been a believer since my youth!” Well, get used to it, all of us are a “hard case” to God. Truth is, our flesh (our carnal “sin-nature”) does not want to believe, does not want to be told what to do. God, working through others has to drag us along. It is true, some of us are harder cases than others but all of us are still in the category “hard case.” We can be very stubborn, willful, and stiff necked. We can also rationalize very easily and convince ourselves that sin is no big deal and even not sin at all.

Yes, indeed we have to be dragged along by God and our carnal nature resists. So, if you’ve come to Jesus, thank the Father, he had to drag you and me here! And, like wandering sheep, he often has to go out and drag us back. “No one can come to me,” says Jesus, “Unless the Father draws (drags!) him.”  Again, if you have faith, thank the Father! You might say we have a “drug problem.” The problem is that we have to be “drug along” at every stage of our lives.   

There is an old Internet standard you may have read elsewhere that reflects this need to be “drug”

I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher. Or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profane four letter word. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and to do my chores. I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline or chop some fire wood. And if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the wood shed. Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place today.

Here is the Video for this Sunday’s Gospel from the movie, The Gospel of John available at Amazon:

 

Here’s recorded homily from today in mp3 format: Sermon for 19th Sunday: Our “Drug” Problem In the Sermon at the end I quote a gospel song by Kurt Carr which is here: