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Father Muench Says...

Seeking and finding God in all things

Oct. 16, 2013

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Seeking and finding God. Let’s start with the question: how do you seek and find God in all things? This is the fundamental challenge of every Christian – for that matter it is hopefully a challenge for every person.

I am certain that many people don’t bother with God yet, I suspect  and hope that everyone has at one time or other wondered about God.  So – how do you answer the question – how do you seek and find God in all things?
Recently, Pope Francis was asked this very question in that extensive interview that was published recently in the Jesuit Magazine, America. 

The Holy Father begins by saying that there are many “who would like to verify God immediately by an empirical method.”  An empirical method means being scientific about finding God, that is the approach of using a collection of data to base a theory or come to some sort of conclusion. 

Pope Francis says about the empirical method – “you cannot meet God this way.” He then adds, “God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah.”

Do you remember that story about Elijah?  In the First Book of Kings, Elijah escapes from King Ahab to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Horeb and finds shelter in a cave.  In a vision, the word of God comes to him – “Go outside stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” 

Then there is a strong and heavy wind – but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake – but Lord was not in the earthquake.  Then there was a fire – but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  Elijah hid his face and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. Elijah realizes that God is in that tiny whispering sound. 

Pope Francis makes it clear that seeking and finding God is a spiritual experience – a contemplative experience.  And usually, God is found in the place you least expect. Like Elijah, we will be mightily surprised when we suddenly discover the presence of God in our lives.

In the interview, Pope Francis goes on to explain, using ideas that he has learned from St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of his Jesuit order.  Pope Francis says, “The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses.  Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach.  A contemplative attitude is necessary: it is the feeling that you are moving along the good path of understanding and affection.”

This finding of God is a journey – a journey of prayer and the study of Scripture.  This is a quiet journey – a time for silence – a time when we are open and ready to allow the presence of the Lord into our life.

This is a journey of faith – a faith that grows each step of the journey.  This is a faith-filled with dedication to the bringing God into our lives.  This is a faith that changes our life, a life that will be filled with the love and spirit of the Lord.

How do we know we are going in the right direction in life? Pope Francis says this, “Profound peace, spiritual consolation, and love of God and love of all things in God – this is the sign that you are on the right path.”

This is a journey that is not easy for it takes a lifetime.  Yet, when we find the Lord – when we find the Lord in all things – our life truly becomes filled with a peace that makes each day filled with joy and happiness. 

There is one more step in this adventure. Once we find God – once we know where the path to God, we must be ready to share it with others. As faith-filled Christians who have truly found the Lord, we make the world better by leading others closer to the Lord.

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