SEARCHING FOR GOD’S PRESENCE

Eugene’s desire to live “all for God,” led him to want to live in an awareness of the presence of his “beloved” throughout the day. The many demands and activities of each day made it necessary for him to have reminders to do so.

I would wish to have near me a faithful friend who would remind me of my Beloved in times when occupations cause me to lose sight of him.
In the absence of such a friend, I will use other means, such as, for example, raising my heart to God whenever the clock sounds, whenever someone knocks on my door, whenever a carriage passes, etc. Since I am already familiar with this practice, I have only to continue it. 
Another means for developing the habit of placing oneself very often in the presence of the Saviour, is that used by the good and respected M. Emery [ed. his superior in the seminary]; he used to have a small box filled with little peas, and each time he thought of God, he passed one of these peas into another box: he used then every evening to make a count of the number of times he had been united with God during the day, he compared that with that of the previous evening, and if he had not had the thought at least every quarter of an hour, he imposed a penance on himself. That is what that venerable old man used to do in the midst of his countless occupations. 

Rule drawn up on my retreat in Aix, December 1812, O.W. XV n. 109

This same concept is expressed in other words today by Tom Tenney:

A God chaser is a person whose passion for God’s presence presses him to chase the impossible in hopes that the uncatchable might catch him. A child chases a loving parent until, suddenly, the strong arms of the father enfold the chaser. The pursuer becomes the captive; the pursued the captor. Paul put it this way: I chase after that I may catch that which has apprehended me (Phil. 3:12).

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3 Responses to SEARCHING FOR GOD’S PRESENCE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Thank you for these daily thoughts and teachings. I love the image of the child chasing and being caught up. The image is one of incredible tenderness.
    I also love what Eugene talks about – having a friend to remind him of his Beloved; I too have wished for something like that. I do not think I will try the peas – rather I find other small ways to remind me and refocus me throughout the day. One of these ways is to post small notes at my desk that I see each time I look up from my computer – this week it reads “speak Lord, your servant listens” which invariably causes me to pause (sometimes just for a few seconds, other times for a moment) and I do focus on my beloved. Another way is to open my email and read “Eugene de Mazenod Speaks to us” which allows me time to thank God for the many opportunities He gives me to find Him throughout the day. I look at how St. Eugene was steadfast in his pursuit of God and am reminded of how I might live and I find inspiration to find my own ways to “chase my God”.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The peas – still not a good idea for me – I fear that if I start “counting” it will all become about how many times I did something and I will start to measure and that will become the focus, rather than God.

    Coming to a place such as this helps me. By thinking and reflecting, writing, sharing – I find God brings me to a place where I am more readily disposed to thinking, to focussing on Him in all. I may need to return here a couple of times throughout the day, just to see where I am, to refocus because for me in the busyness of the day it is so easy for me to get distracted, to fall into old habits, to become immersed in myself.

    “I chase after that I may catch that which has apprehended me (Phil. 3:12).” The truth and wonder of this is an awesome moment, one to simply sit in and relish. I might have thought that I have been chasing after God, but the truth, I’ve been in his embrace since time began, but sometimes simply failed to recognize it – I was too busy looking for what I wanted elsewhere, so busy I failed to recognize that I already had it.

    I begin to see and understand the wisdom of Eugene and all the other saints, of the Church and what she teaches us, even of things like Constitution and Rules. Its about how we remain true to who we have been created to be. My friend who made the Camino walk talked about the small sign posts that marked the way during his pilgrimage. They were there to help him stay on the right road to get to where he was going. What are my signposts along the way each day? The prayers that I might say at specific times, the people I see, my focus on why I am doing whatever it is I am doing. It could be simply placing myself with Jesus as I begin to do whatever I must, in His presence, with him, not one but together.

    I acknowledge my God, as I start out this morning, and am grateful, for as imperfect as I am he will not let go of me for long before bringing me back into his embrace.

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