The Practice of the Presence of God…
(from a September 5, 1971 homily)

It is not surprising that the masters of the spiritual life in helping us to come closer to union with God lay great stress on becoming aware of God’s presence by a steady daily effort to live consciously in His presence.  The practice of the presence of God is a very necessary one if we are to live as Our Lord wants us to live.  With practice we can become so aware of the presence of God, Whom we love and Who loves us, that each brief glance at Him renews our reverence and recollection and keeps us in peace amid the crosses that life brings us and keeps our resolution strong. . . .

How can we make the whole day one long communion with God?  How can we practice the presence of God all day long? . . .

One of the most fruitful ways . . . of living in the conscious presence of God as much as possible and to acquire the habit of remembering Him is by means of aspirations or ejaculatory prayers.  In early centuries the monks in the deserts used to get very close to God by means of very short bursts of fervent prayer rather than by having long periods of meditative prayer.  What we ought to do is choose some very short aspiration [i.e. a very brief prayer word or phrase], which suits us, and shoot it off to God with all our love over and over again during the day.  It may be the one word “God” or the Holy Name of “Jesus” or “Glory be to God” or a psalm verse or even a silent spiritual smile at God Who is present.  Until it becomes almost second nature, it is useful to have reminders that we want to increase the number of momentary acknowledgements of God’s presence:  a knot in a handkerchief, or a piece of paper on the table, or something like that may help;  making an aspiration every time the clock strikes or each time you open a door or cross a road or switch on a light or a television set or anything like that.

I am not advising overdoing it.  It must come gradually, but surely if God is in this place, and God is love, and we were made for Him and are going to Him in heaven, we ought to have great joy and reverence and comfort in continually sending little fervent bursts of love to Him.

There is a fire existing in every moment of our lives if we recognize the presence of God within us by His indwelling and around us by His providence.  God is a consuming fire, and in His Son He is with us every moment, even until the end of time, and He came, as He said, to cast fire upon the earth.

“Truly, God is in this place, and I never realized it.” (Genesis 28:16)

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