ENABLING PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Each evening the Oblate communities would organize evening prayer in their public churches for the local people. Eugene reminds them that the aim of the exercise was not to give the people a sermon, but to give them reflections which would help them to enter into meditative prayer. At times preachers can get carried away with their own words and lose sight of the goal of preaching: to enable people to experience the presence of God and to enjoy that presence in meditation.

… Do not lose from sight that it is not a question in this exercise, of preaching but of furnishing matter for meditation [for the faithful]… . I was always opposed to the shouting in Marseilles

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 26 August 1826, EO VI n. 252

 

“By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God. Begin all your prayers in the presence of God.”      Saint Francis de Sales

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2 Responses to ENABLING PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The need for all of us to find a space in our lives for this kind of prayer. Eugene very wisely telling his Oblates to not ‘tell people’ to practice this type of prayer in their homes, when they can, but rather to create a space for the prayer; to invite them to the church and then “furnishing them the matter for meditation”. Left to my own resources I can find the material but I often find myself tired at the end of the day, I want to watch TV with my roommates, catch up on my reading. But if I make a commitment to meet with others then I can honour that commitment and it is with joy that I go and be with them and pray. On my own though I seem to fail miserably. Perhaps I need to make the time in the late afternoon to go to the church and just sit there and be, without distractions and interruptions – a practice I used to have when I worked for the government. Once a week I meet with a dear friend and we have a meal together then we talk about Eugene, how he lived and how we live, there is a sharing back and forth and then we go home and it is a lead-in to prayer. There is some quiet time for me to reflect on what we shared but it can be short – certainly no where near sitting for half an hour with God. The real time of reflection will be found the next day as I travel on the bus or walk to my destination – then will I talk with my Saviour but not do as my deepest being cries out for time to just be with him. My own weakness stares at me and and the truth of it is shaming. I am reminded of St. Paul’s struggles and even Peter’s faithfulness.

    And then there is the question of how I might ‘enable people [others] to experience the presence of God’.

  2. Ken Hart says:

    Reading about how busy the lives of the early Oblates were I chuckle about our obsessions with being too busy. Still, it doesn’t just happen. Scheduling time for morning prayer or oraison is the only way to make it happen. It would be great to do it with others but in my life that is too complex. I am fortunate to have a window in our kitchen looking out over trees and our yard. Sitting there with Give Us This Day and/or the Carmelites of Indianapolis People’s Companion to the Breviary and a page of Rohr’s or Rolheiser’s meditations gives me a real leg up on the day. I can hold fast to prayer from that perspective and when I miss for any reason I pay for it.

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