Online Homilies for Friends at Christ of the Desert and Others
"Go Find God!"
Greetings Friends: This is the first of a few “Online Homilies” I will share with you while we are staying home. Some may be 7 minutes or less, some may be much longer...I never know! I’ll call this offering “Go Find God!”. During the first week of the Covid 19 Pandemic, someone asked me the question, “Where is God in all of this?” I guess the question could mean more than one thing: “Does God see it? Why does God allow it? Will God heal it?” All common questions which can have many answers. When the churches were closed and we were no longer allowed to celebrate Mass together many were denied the daily or weekly experience of connecting with God by participating in an ancient ritual. For some that felt like a separation from God that was hardly bearable. One friend said, “I cry every day that I can’t attend Mass”. When we learned that we could return to a limited participation again, I heard the phrase, “Return to the presence of God”. After all, we have been taught that the Eucharist is the “Real Presence” of Christ. All of us need to feel the “Presence” to keep going. We need to experience the Light and the Love and the Hope and the Joy to survive emotionally and spiritually during this new world in which we find ourselves. So…the question we can ask ourselves is, “Where is God”? We have some really good and clear answers to that question. St. John said, “God IS Love”. During a Kairos retreat two years ago one of the student speakers left his peers with this message, “Love can be found everywhere, in everything and in everybody”. That pretty well covers it! Can you come home to the fact that every time you experience love in any way…yours…someone else’s…a dog’s…the sun’s…every time you hear the sound of a beautiful love song, the music laughter of the children, a bird's song, the whisper of, "I love you!" …that you’re feeling the “Presence”. We carry the “Real Presence” with us in every loving relationship in our lives! In the year 644 the leaders of the Church met in what is now Wales and decided that you could only experience God in church. They declared that the centuries old practices of the Celtic cultures…that you could hear the heartbeat of God in all of nature…were not “orthodox” and could not be followed. Years later, in an effort that was more political than spiritual, a man named Pelagius was condemned and excommunicated. Although largely misguided, Church leaders were again trying to protect orthodox teachings. Pelagius was teaching that the wonder and presence of God could be found in all of nature. The most typical mark of the Celtic tradition apparent in Pelagius’ writings is his strong sense of the goodness of creation, in which the life of God can be glimpsed. Everywhere, he says, ‘narrow shafts of divine light pierce the veil that separates heaven from earth.” “Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and sea: God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent. When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature: it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wildflowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing is ugly.” After the Roman Church effectively condemned and rejected all nature spirituality that came from the Celtic world, the Celts and Irish finally said, “Thank you for sharing” and continued the practices throughout the centuries. The same wonder of and appreciation for the presence is found in the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi and the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and in the nature mysticism of our Native American brothers and sisters. St. Ignatius also said, “God is always at work, everywhere and in everything”. Centuries of experience has taught us that both are true: We hear the voice of God in the Church, the sacraments, the scriptures, and traditional teachings. But we also hear the voice of God in all of nature and life. As long as we can’t get into a church, all we need for our consolation and strength and hope is to “stop, look and listen” for the PRESENCE that surrounds us at every moment. Spend some time each day looking around and noticing the miracles! Find your own “touch points”, experiences that bring you feelings of inner peace, happiness, joy or serenity, and return to them often. I wrote this recently: I was in the mountains today, and the serene beauty of it all just took my breath away. The graceful hawk in flight spoke softly as I watched… “Relax…everything will be okay”. I stopped in a space where people gathered… the sheer joy in a young child’s laugh made me cry. The roadside flowers’ struggle in the summer heat gave me hope for another day and a softer time. And when I returned home I said to God: “It was good to be with you today!” I love you. Thanks for reading. "GO FIND GOD!"