DEVELOPING THE HABIT OF PLACING ONESELF VERY OFTEN IN THE PRESENCE OF THE SAVIOR

If we equate living in the awareness of the presence of God with living in the awareness of the sight of the Crucified Savior, we touch a keystone of Eugene’s spirituality. The former is a general precept of spirituality; the latter is Eugene’s particular understanding of the presence of his Beloved.

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, EO XV n. 109

An example of some simple actions to help us to become more aware of the presence of the Savior. Brother Lawrence, whose wisdom was collected in a booklet, The Practice of the Presence of God, really gets to the heart of the matter:

“People invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”   Brother Lawrence

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One Response to DEVELOPING THE HABIT OF PLACING ONESELF VERY OFTEN IN THE PRESENCE OF THE SAVIOR

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded a little of the mystery of the Trinity. “If we equate living in the awareness of the presence of God with living in the awareness of the sight of the Crucified Savior, we touch a keystone of Eugene’s spirituality.” And my heart thrills to hear it spoken of for there have been times that I have found myself looking in confusion and concern at my own inability to fully separate the two – God and Christ Jesus on the Cross, my Crucified Savior. Both distinct and yet totally one, and it is all quite unexplainable; yet most real and true.

    I cannot laugh or scoff at Eugene’s means for I have developed my own. Perhaps the most important means to me is the cross that I wear, for to look at it, to touch it, to kiss it, is to alter my awareness so that my mind, my thoughts, my being focuses most instantly on my crucified Beloved. And like breathing so very often my thoughts, my being returns to the image, the memory of my experience of the Cross a month ago and I enter into or through those eyes of my God. It is somehow a way of being and yet whenever I try to describe it or speak of it I am moved to tears. That my God should love me so!

    As I sit here this morning I look at the four walls that surround me. There are small images of the cross that surround me. To look at them, or to touch them for a second is like stopping before an icon and touching it, as if to move through it and touch God. And outside – all of nature, the leaves on the ground, the small frost in the morning, the moon and stars that have not yet faded in the coming light of day, all these, if I but notice stop me and there is a great awareness of the beauty and love of God. Even to love another is to become aware of the presence of God before me. My heart always recognizes this – that is loving, but I am often able with my physical being to be aware and see the memory of the eyes of my Crucified Savior in those who are suffering.

    Most recently, coming here to this sacred place has grown on me and caused me some concern. For I have found myself once again ‘falling in love’ with the Cross, with Jesus on the Cross, with to use Eugene’s or Franks words, with my Crucified Savior. To focus at the beginning of my day on what the Cross means to me and how I am going to carry that through my day (for it does not end when I hit the ‘Comment’ button but rather I find myself returning to it throughout my day) – it is intense and yet I do not really want to turn away from it. I think of the women at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. Quite unable to leave or turn away – they needed to be there, to ‘be with’. It is somehow intimate and alive. It grows deeper rather than fading and I am quite unable to control this part of me (in truth I do not really want to). Am I mad? Perhaps. I seem to have found my true being, or perhaps better to say I am becoming more and more aware of my true being – in God. It is most fearful and wondrous in the same breath.

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