There is no need to strive to be with God as God is always with us – in our world and in creation.
Growing up in a Middle Eastern / Italian family in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, my favorite book at school was the religion textbook My Way To God. English wasn’t my first language even though I was born in Australia so my favorite part was tracing the pictures. The books came with some beautifully written and written prayers that grew with each book (Book 1 for Grades 1 & 2, Book 2 for Grades 3 & 4, and so on). But now as an adult, as a Catholic nun, I am blessed to have faith education of all kinds made available to me – my own, as well as participation in the faith formation of children, parents and adults.
When I look at the title of my esteemed religion textbook, I think that maybe it skewed it a little. Is it really MY way to God? Or is God with me all the time?
I often ask parents of children of sacramental age to give themselves a score of 10 (one score is the lowest and 10 is the highest) on the following two questions. 1. How close are you to God? 2. How close is God to you? The overwhelming answer is that the answer to how close God is to them is always higher. Why? Because God is close to us 10 out of 10.
It’s not as if the song “From A Distance” made famous by Bette Middler, where the text “God observes us from afar”, doesn’t make sense to us.
GOD IS IN OUR WORLD
God is involved in our world and in God’s creation. I don’t have to fight to get to God. I don’t have to win God’s approval or do anything to be worthy of God’s love. I grew up thinking that God was like Santa Claus and that God made a naughty and nice list. It is not a way to seek God, but the way is to discover God in all things. This is my spiritual journey. This is our spiritual journey.
Our path is to discover God in all things, and our stepping stones are sharing our knowledge of God (evangelization) and loving and serving others (mission).
For me, the journey to discover God in all things has undoubtedly led to my coming to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. The sisters’ charism is to be women of healing and hope in all situations. This trip took me to places I couldn’t have imagined. The path to teaching elementary school age students and working in Catholic secondary schools that combines the aspect of love for my faith and acts of service.
What continues to inspire me and compel me to continue this journey to discover God in all things? The basic scripture of Micah 6: 8: Live righteously, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God.
LONG, LOVING LOOK
One of the most important aspects of discovering God in all things is time to reflect and pray. One type of prayer that works for me is the Ignatian theme of the “long, loving gaze.” This could be a long loving look at experiences in my life that I had during the day, or a conversation with a friend, or just time in nature. Most of the time I bring these experiences to a deeper place in my being, to the place where God is in me.
In order to become a better person, I take these experiences and explore them with a spiritual guide who will allow me to go around the experience and discover what God’s calling in them is for me.
My path to God today is to be the best person I am called to be. I remember that I was made in the image and likeness of God (imago dei).
In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis expands this thinking and leads us back to the image that we are all brothers and sisters, for one another and for all of creation.
We are all interconnected, interconnected and interdependent. Through our actions we can diminish or strengthen the other.
We are called to respect each other’s unique dignity and to do everything possible to change our own world and form a new humanity and a new creation. I discover God in all things.
The challenge is to make Micah’s fundamental passage a guide and inspiration for our lives today: live righteously, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God.
This article first appeared in the spring 2021 issue of Madonna magazine.