Recognizing He is Present

Listen to His Voice as He speaks to us in our hearts!

Many people, particularly those old enough to remember Church times before 1950, talk of a lack nowadays in Spirituality and that level of awesomeness one experiences, for example, when entering a large Cathedral. If I were to visit St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, I'd probably feel the same way, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City (where I've attended Mass many times before I moved to Florida in 1984) also evoked this sense of awe. But it is not size or beautiful glass windows that evoke this joyful feeling, because I felt it just the other day, when I sat in my Parish Church, for 20 minutes waiting for Mass to begin.


Jesus is present in the Tabernacle... and so often we forget that. We come into church, talking with our friends. We march up the aisle to find a seat... without remembering He's there, and He was anticipating our arrival. We know that Jesus loves us deeply, but because we cannot see Him in His humanity, we neglect to remember that He is present, particularly in Church, our Church and in all the Catholic Churches around the world. In the Tabernacle He is present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, but not in His humanity. So we cannot see Him, but we see Him with the eyes of our soul! In faith!


Spirituality and Awe... that feeling, that sensation, if you will, was often evoked by old quiet churches, made with lots of carved wood, and it had that certain smell... old wood paste wax and that smell of holiness (probably with a vague odor of sweat and tears) - somehow I do not get this sensation when I enter a modern church with lots of benches, bare walls and an altar that looks more like a butcher-block table than anything else. There's a certain ambiance missing... but Jesus is present there, too. Take, for example, the chapel of the Trappist monks at Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky. I once spent a couple of days on retreat there. It happened to be in the middle of the winter. All I remember is a very stark building, high-roofed, largely stone with steel pillars (looked like I-beams)...  and except for the monk's benches along the side, there was nothing "warm" about that space... and yet I strongly felt the Presence of God.


Churches in Europe, at least the ones I recall from past visits, also meant a lot. I spent about a half year in Mannheim, where I remember a noteworthy church, the Jesuit church (abt. 1760), the interior of which is lavishly decorated with marble and painting in a Baroque setting. I heard it has been renovated. I dread to see what it looks like now. Many of the old-time churches have been renovated into modern churches, and you may ask why? All these ornate decorations distract our attention from the Holy Eucharist. It's true, it is a distraction, but I feel that these old beautiful interiors served many thousands of people in the 18th, 19th Centuries, and in the first half of the 20th Century as well. No, it is not the fault of the church buildings and interiors that people don't go to church as they should... these interiors are quiet monuments to the grandeur of Our Lord and were lovingly created by those wishing to adore Him!


So here I sat, 20 minutes, maybe more, looking at the Tabernacle. I was totally alone with Jesus, and the visit was good. Then someone got up and said something to someone else, and my concentration was broken. The end of my morning's private prayer; soon Holy Mass began.


"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." (Art. 1776, CCC)


Let us often be alone with God and listen to His voice as He speaks to us in our hearts!


Peace and Good,

Fred S. Schaeffer, OFS
4/10/2018 rep. 2013

A Gift of a New Life
A Biography
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

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