Every month, we suggest a Faith Practice which you and your home, school or parish community might like to take on as part of your commitment for the Year of Faith. It is our hope that these simple practices will stir in us the ‘renewed conversion of the Lord’ that Pope Benedict XVI calls for in Porta Fidei (n. 6).
Faith Practice of the Month for August: Seeing God in All Things
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit religious order, wrote that we can ‘come to see God in all things’. In his Spiritual Exercises Ignatius wrote:
All the things in this world are gifts from God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
Down through the ages people have experienced and come to know God in all sorts of ways. This month, make a special effort to be open to God’s presence in some of the following ‘bits and pieces’ of your everyday life. Consider what difference these encounters make. Perhaps note them in a journal this month.
1. The gift of nature and the cosmos: The experience of nature can raise people’s hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving and evoke a sense of wonder. The psalmist says:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established: what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
2. The gift of a child: The birth of a child is an extraordinary gift, a wonder-ful gift, manifesting the wonder and beauty of God, the Giver of life. Parents are amazed when they see their newly born child, the tiny fingernails, the hair, the nose and the toes. There are often no words to express the sense of wonder and awe we experience by seeing and holding an infant. For many, the birth of a child is a profoundly spiritual experience, one that can deepen their awareness of the pro-creative power of God at work in the world.
3. The gift of friendship and love: Family and good friends help us to know that we are valued, that we are good, that we can make a difference in the world and, ultimately, that we are not alone. We laugh with them, cry with them, share problems with them and be surprised by them. Our family and friends help us discover and grow to become the unique person whom God has created us to be. The gifts of love and friendship can be a portal to the grace of God in our lives. Surely, one way that God loves us is through our friends and family; maybe a text or call from a friend or family member at the right moment is also God’s way of saying, ‘Hi’!
4. The gift of romantic love: Being in love changes everything. We see the world differently; new life, new energy and new colour fill our whole being—ever ything is possible! This experience is a touch of the divine. St. John wrote, ‘Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God . . . for God is love’ (1 John 4:7–8). Receiving and giving the gift of true love is the gift of one person to another. It is an image of God sharing his divine love and our living in intimacy with him. These moments are opportunities to tune into the presence of our Loving God.
5. The gift of healing: Healing can be physical, emotional and spiritual. Jesus’ healing touched all the dimensions of a person; he healed the whole person. Jesus’ acts of healing were signs of the healing presence of God in people’s lives. Sometimes when we are not feeling well—feeling alone, without friends, cut off from the world around us, a little desperate, sad or worried—we cry out to God. Aware of God’s presence with us, we begin to grow strong within ourselves as we notice a trace of God’s loving care in that moment.
6. The gift of forgiveness: Everyone says and does things that hurt others. We might spontaneously lash out at a parent or friend in the heat of the moment; we might deliberately set out to get back at classmates or siblings, seeking revenge for what they did to us.
||Sometimes things become so entangled and painful that it seems impossible to find a way forward. However, people genuinely forgive and accept forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is a gift. Seeking and facilitating such forgiveness requires a power deep within—you might even say outside of—the parties involved. Forgiving or accepting forgiveness is something they could not do by themselves. It is a sign of the presence and the power of God at work in both their offer and their acceptance of forgiveness.
7. The gift of liberation: Many people experience oppression and injustice of one kind or another. People are oppressed and unfairly discriminated against because of their race, religion, gender, colour, social status, age, sexual orientation, disability and so on. Jesus revealed that such undermining and devaluing of human dignity is totally contrary to God’s will. For example, he showed us that God has a particular concern for people whom others push to the margins in society, who are made voiceless in any group. In our participation in this work of liberation, of freeing people from oppression and injustice, we can encounter God, who is always working for justice and liberation.
Previous Faith Practices of the Month:
July 2013: Encouraging Yound Adults in the Life of the Church
June 2013: Praying with the Scriptures Daily
May 2013: Pilgrimage
April 2013: Supporting Catholic Education
March 2013: Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation
February 2013: Lenten Practices
January 2013: Performing Corporal Works of Mercy
December 2012: Enthroning the Christmas Crib
November 2012: Praying for those who have died
October 2012: Pray part of the Rosary every day