Kitchen Catechism: Featured Articles
by Lois Donahue
You know how something you hear or read will sometimes stick in your mind and then every once in a while keep rising to the surface? Well that happened to me not too long ago when I heard this phrase referring to God - "the power of His presence." I couldn't get those WORDS out of my mind and then, little by little, came the THOUGHTS and, by now, you know what comes next. I share those thoughts with you ….
I think it was the word 'power' that caught my attention. You see, for some strange reason, I have always been inclined to limit my definition of 'power' to physical 'strength' or 'might' and therefore I had trouble associating that kind of 'power' with the presence of God as I had come to know Him. Fortunately, somewhere along my thinking journey, I had sense enough to return to my dictionary where I found that, while both 'strength' and 'might' were part of the fourth definition given for 'power', the very first was the "capability of doing or accomplishing something". Oh, I won't argue that the power of God's presence does not signify 'strength' or 'might'. I certainly believe that, in a way, it is the 'strength' of His presence that makes some people strong enough to willingly suffer martyrdom and, as a single example of the 'might' of His presence, I think of those who rightly deserve to be known as 'mighty' rulers or leaders.
However, in my own thinking, His power and His presence have to mean more to us than simply admitting there is a God who can help us when the need arises. It seems to me that God has to be a 'person' - has to be 'someone' to us. Personally I can't think of Him as a spirit or as three persons because I cannot understand and couldn't possibly begin trying to explain just what either of those identities of God means. For me God has to be real. In a way as real as any family member or friend who, for whatever reason, doesn't happen to be with us bodily and God's "presence" has to be more than simply knowing that somehow He 'is there'. I think His presence should be a 'relationship' that begins and grows in ways much like our other relationships. He might well be present in our lives because someone told us about Him - or we heard stories about Him - or we read about Him. Then He might have come into our lives through Baptism and, as time passed, we might have had the opportunity to again encounter Him through the Sacraments. Along the way we might have begun feeling comfortable talking to Him and listening to Him in whatever way He chose to speak to us. It just seems to me, that could be how a relationship with God might begin and might grow.
In other words, I truly believe that just as in the course of time - for different reasons and in different ways - we come to know, almost instinctively, certain things about anyone who becomes part of our lives that the same is true when one of those 'anyones' happens to be God. Now, in no way do I have the intention and certainly neither the knowledge nor the right to tell you what you should know about the God in whom you believe. I am simply going to share with you some of the things I have come to know and therefore honestly believe about God as He is for me.
I know He is always powerful, loving, forgiving but just, understanding and fair in every sense of those words.
I know He is responsible for my existence and saw to it that there was a Church to speak to me for Him - to guide me - to offer me the opportunity to meet Him sacramentally.
I know I must make every effort to obey Him, not only to live according to His Ten Commandments but follow the teaching of His Church and that I will be answerable to Him if I don't.
I know He made it possible for me to be with Him someday.
I know there will always be things about Him that I won't understand beyond the familiar 'great mysteries'. For example, I don't always understand why He does some things and doesn't do others - why He allows some things to happen and prevents others from happening.
And I know for sure He wants me always to 'keep in touch'
To sum up my WORDS AND THOUGHTS I guess the bottom line is that, hopefully, the 'power of His presence' will become and remain for each of us something we just know in our own way, something for which we are ever grateful and something that gives each of us the "capability" to, at the very least, TRY our best to "do or accomplish" whatever it is He expects of us.