Closeness to God

05-19-2022From the desk of Fr. Villa

Actor Jon Voight in a conversation was describing his life and his upbringing and he said that he did not have that connection that his mother had and he didn’t feel that sense of God. He had spiritual experience which he described which changed that but why didn’t he have that connection as he described it until then? He was raised Catholic, received the sacraments, instructed in the Catholic Faith. Easter season is an especially good time to think about the closeness of God to us.

We should learn to become better and better friends of God who is dwelling within us. Through this divine presence, our soul becomes a miniature heaven. Reflection on that thought can help us enormously. At Baptism the three Persons of the most Blessed Trinity came into our soul: they want to be closer to us throughout our lives than the closest of friends. This presence – which is quite unique – is lost only through mortal sin. …At times we think that God is far away, whereas in fact he is very close to us. He is more interested in what we’re doing than the best of friends.

God asks some people to withdraw from the world to achieve that recollection. But he wants the majority of Christians (housewives, students, employees) to find it in the midst of their daily activities. We keep our senses for God by means of ongoing mortification throughout the day; that’s also the way to interior contentment. We mortify our imagination by putting aside useless thoughts; our memory, by not entertaining memories which don’t bring us closer to God; our will, by fulfilling our timetable of work and our duties, however small they may be. Concentrated work, if it is offered to God, not only does not obstruct our conversation with God but rather facilitates it. The same applies to our external activity: social relations, family life, leisure time, journeys ... Everything in life – except when superficiality predominates – has a profound, intimate dimension; it takes on that dimension when we are recollected and brings it into our friendship with God. Recollection means bringing together what was scattered, re-establishing interior order, controlling our senses as they tend towards dispersion even in things which are good or indifferent; it means having God as the centre of our intentions in what we’re doing and planning.

The opposite to interior recollection is dissipation and superficiality. The senses and faculties dip into whatever pool they meet along the way, and the result is unsettled purpose, scattered attention, deadened will and quickened concupiscence. Unless we are recollected we cannot pay attention to God. The more we purify our heart and our senses, the more recollected we are, the more our soul will long for contact with God, like the deer that yearns for running streams. Our heart then needs to distinguish and adore each one of the divine Persons. The soul is, as it were, making a discovery in the supernatural life, like an infant opening his eyes to the world about him. The soul spends time lovingly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and readily submits to the work of the life-giving Paraclete, who gives himself to us without any merit on our part.

Although the indwelling of the most Blessed Trinity in our soul pertains to the three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – it is attributed in a particular way to the Third Person. And during this period, as Pentecost Sunday draws closer, the liturgy invites us to give more attention to our friendship with the Holy Spirit. The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you, our Lord tells us in the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is to dwell in him and to give him new graces for his holiness and for his apostolate. The Holy Spirit is present in the soul of the Christian in grace so as to make him more and more like Christ, to urge him to fulfill the will of God and to help him in that task. The Holy Spirit comes as a remedy to our weaknesses, and intercedes before the Father on our behalf, with groans beyond all utterance.

Let us ask our Lady to help us appreciate this most blessed reality, because our life will then be very different. Why should we feel alone when the Holy Spirit is with us? Why should we ever feel anxious or insecure, even for a single day of our lives, when the Paraclete is so attentive to us and to everything we do? Why go chasing madly after an apparent happiness, when there is no greater happiness than friendship with this sweet Guest who dwells within us? How different our conversation or behavior would be on occasion if we were only conscious of the fact that we are temples of God, temples of the Holy Spirit.

Fernandez, Francis. In Conversation with God – Volume 2 Part 2: Eastertide