A cherished friend of mine (with whom I now correspond
far too infrequently) taught me something important about prayer. We interned together
at a retreat center, serving on a team that gave retreats for high school students. Whenever
Colleen (now Sister Colleen Maura of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of
Clyde, Missouri) led or contributed to team or group prayer, she prayed for a greater awareness
of God’s presence. Her constancy in making this request in prayer led me to deeper
exploration of my own prayer and awareness of God’s presence.
We celebrate God’s presence made manifest in the person of Jesus—first
at Christmas and again at Epiphany. We associate this celebration (officially a solemnity)
with the coming of the three kings (Magi). That these “wise men from the East” traveled
to acknowledge the presence of God in the child Jesus is remarkable. The fact that these
men were gentiles also speaks of the reality that, through Jesus, God is made manifest
and available to all people.
What difference does it make whether one is aware of God’s presence?
I have found that it makes a big difference in my life. I have faith that God is present
with me and within me at all times and everywhere. I have had many experiences of God’s
revelation through the words and actions of other people and through life events. I know
that God speaks to me through Scripture and the wonders of creation as well. While I believe
it, I can also forget it quite easily—or take it for granted and not really think
about what it means.
Including a prayer for awareness of God’s presence whenever I
pray has changed me—for the better. I am more conscious of God as my constant companion.
I more readily look for the ways that God is at work even in the difficulties I encounter.
I more readily draw on God’s strength, compassion and patience—whatever is
needed from me by another, especially when my own well of those resources seems dry. I
am better able to keep things in perspective because I benefit from God’s view of
As our Church calendar moves toward the celebration of the Solemnity
of the Epiphany of the Lord, I invite you to reflect on the meaning of the Epiphany in
your own life and in the life of the Church. I have selected a clip from the audiobook Eternal
Seasons: A Liturgical Journey With Henri J.M. Nouwen
to share with you. This work
is a compilation of selections from Nouwen’s books, arranged in order of the Church
year. In the selected clip, you’ll hear a brief introduction by the editor, Michael
Ford, and just two of the many offerings on Epiphany and the “Feasts of Epiphany” (from
Anthony of Egypt 1/17 to Shrove Tuesday) in this book. Click here (Windows
to listen to the audio clip.
This audiobook can serve you in a variety of ways as you prepare for
each season and celebration of the Church year. Selections of it can be shared regularly
at pastoral staff meetings and gatherings of the worship commission and those responsible
for art and environment in your worship space. Introduce RCIA participants to each season
and some of the celebrations of the liturgical year by using a reflection or two from Nouwen’s
writings. Share selections at meetings of catechists and school teachers, at parish council
meetings and gatherings of local catechetical leaders.
Walk with Christ through the Church year—and invite others to
join you—ever mindful of God’s presence within you.