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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"As if God was real"

Years back, I heard an AA speaker talk about how her sponsor gave her a challenge: spend three days acting as if there was no God.  Don't pray, don't ask, don't even think about God.  After three days, her sponsor asked her what was different about her life.  The answer was, "Well, not much really."

Her sponsor replied, "That's your problem."

For many people, and myself I include in this category, it is easy to forget God.  In fact, I spend most of my time without any sense of His presence.  In order to remember Him, I have to work at it constantly, and even then I get mixed results.

For example, I pray, but my prayers are distracted by other thoughts.  I have to constantly pull my mind back on track.  I have had days where I ended up so busy in the morning that I skipped morning prayers altogether, yet I will never fail to greet and talk to my wife and children upon rising.  Then, as I begin the prayers, the phone rings, and when a priest's phone rings he must answer it otherwise the people will think he is inattentive to their needs (slight whiff of sarcasm, but the truth isn't far away).  I must interrupt my prayers and deal with upset parishioners and needy children.

Even on the Holy Altar, we clergy often bounce around and gossip as if God is utterly absent.  We forget what is most needful... and Who it is who is more present than any of us.

In recovery, we cannot afford to take our relationship with God as secondary, even though it seems many times like God is not there.  The blind man cannot see the far mountains, but that does not mean they are not there.  Our inability presently to see and hear God does not necessarily exclude His reality, especially when we have evidence to the contrary.

When we ignore God, then we leave ourselves open to fear, and thus the passions.  Recovery is about awakening our conscious contact with God in every moment, though many of us only experience 'glimpses' that keep us pointed in the right direction.

If you want to know what that looks like, to pray and be certain that one is in the presence of the Almighty, then read this story:

The priest's home is on fire, and he sees the Liturgy as more important.  If the Liturgy is a divine moment of contact with eternal ramifications, and material possessions are temporary things, what is more important?

My response to this article was at a gut level because I know how easy it is to set aside God and deal with 'pressing matters' at the expense what is really more needful.  My prayers are more important than other things that may come up, and it is my sheer sloth that has me not waking up earlier to pray before the 'little distractions' wake up and demand feeding (or refereeing as the case may be).  I am also probably more attached to my possessions than I ought to be, enough so to have the strong desire to rush out with a garden hose if I heard my house was on fire, liturgy or not.

But, this priest demonstrates his own good instincts: he finishes his prayers and work with God first, then goes and surveys the damage.  He seems to get it that his stuff will be replaced by God (if you'd like to be part of that, click here:  However, his prayer and worship has greater meaning.

We say things like, 'Money can't buy you happiness' but look at our impulses.

During this time of Great Lent, when we are called upon to examine ourselves and prepare for the celebration of Christ's Resurrection, this story is a good reminder of how we ought to live: not according to material concerns, but in the presence of God that even the loss of valuable possessions cannot interfere with.  If we desire sobriety and the 'conscious contact with God' outlined in the Steps, we first should know what it looks like.

That's what it looks like.

Please add Fr. Adam and his family to your prayers, and consider helping them out.

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