Recognising God’s Moment
Every aspect of the spiritual life has one purpose: to be attuned and responsive to the call of Christ in each moment. Those whose self-discipline and conformity to the commandments of God are blessed in living in this way, are holy. It is this awareness of the Spirit that the Christian should desire and pray for. This is the simplicity that T.S. Elliot wrote about in Four Quartets: ‘Quick, now, here, now, always. A condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything)’.
The disciplines of prayerful reflection on God’s Word, careful engagement with the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, being attentive to the needs of those around us; in short, loving God and our neighbour as ourselves, will carry us forward a very long way in coming close to this ongoing response to the call of Christ. This all may seem too elevated for some readers; it may be that expectation which many ‘church goers’ judge as ‘going a bit too far.’ Be assured it not impossible, that must be the case for we are created for this purpose, and the whole work of Christ, and the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit enables this to be realised (even if most of us only touch the edge of holiness).
One simple spiritual exercise that can bear fruit very quickly is using an ‘examination of consciousness’ often called (after Ignatius) the ‘Examen’. It is a simple process which enables an individual to review the day, or any other period of time, to discern at which points they experienced communion with the Lord, and at which points they rejected the call of Christ. It only takes a few minutes. All that is needed is a time to look inwardly, with the help of the memory, at the response of body, mind and spirit to the events of the day.
Begin by simply asking the Lord to show you where you have been close to him or where you have stepped away from him as the day has unfolded. Then recall the places you have been in, then re run the memory with the people, then the actions and words in those different settings. As you reconstruct your day pay attention to anything that stands out. There may have been a moment of joy and consolation, and there may have been a moment that you recall with regret or even shame.
Reflect on these prominent moments and turn these into appropriate prayer of thanksgiving, penitence or intercession. Make a mental note of any area of life you should be more attentive to. End by praying the Lord’s Prayer.
If this exercise is used regularly it becomes very fluent process that can be used at different points of the day, to raise awareness of the Lord’s call. It is not in pursuing huge ideals or by extreme asceticism that most of us draw closer to God, but by living in the desire to love and serve him in every moment. This is one way that can help.