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  • David Carlson

702 The deepest form of prayer is ‘Practicing the Presence of God.'

Day 702 Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The deepest form of prayer is ‘Practicing the Presence of God.'

Homily by Ingrid from the St. Anthony's Community in Santa Barbara for The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 13, 2022

I’ve been thinking about prayer on and off since we had that discussion about it a few months ago when we talked about Job. Recently I read something that brought me up short because it was so true! It was something I felt I had already known, but this time, the truth of it sunk in more deeply. It was this sentence:

The deepest form of prayer is

‘Practicing the Presence of God.'

Practicing the Presence of God. What does that really mean?

I can safely say that we all know and believe that our God lives in us. Out there, of course, but most importantly in here. He lives in here, and in every living thing. Psalm 139 tells us that he was with us in our mothers’ wombs, knitting us together into himself. His life in us, his beating heart, so to speak, is evidence of our own incarnations, incarnations that in many respects are as deep and profound as was Mary’s. Hers and ours–each of them involved the birthing of God’s own life within us.

We talked about callings last week. Our truest calling is to grow and nurture that Life within. To practice God’s presence by spending time with him alone, loving him, being aware of him all day long and into the night. To have the Spirit overpower in us any idea that we are separate, from Him and from each other. The Father promises to bless this seeking:

“Ask, and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” This prayer, I think, is a prayer for spiritual gifts. God is promising to be found by us, to be opened unto us.

Someone recently remarked that the person who only thinks of God two or three times a day doesn’t have much of a relationship with him. This also struck a chord. We are called to choose, then, to deliberately, consciously stay aware of God, practice feeling God’s Presence within. With conscious intent, turn to that Life within us, many times throughout each day, every day. To make it a habit to talk to that Life within us, adore that Life within us, always and everywhere.

But it’s so difficult to stay aware of this, that Christ lives in us.

It’s so ingrained, the teaching that God lives apart from us, as high as the heavens are from the earth, and that he can only be reached by prayer, obedience, and sacrifice. And by “being good.”

What a profound mis-service to centuries of Christians who labored under the belief that God’s love was conditional and that they had to be good enough to deserve His Presence. To beg for his favor. And sometimes to pay for it! And how sad that the Church–all churches-- still concentrate on sin rather than our complete freedom from its yoke. All this in direct contradiction with what Jesus taught us. “Your faith has made you whole.”

We are just now beginning to come out from under the burden of these false beliefs, but I think the vestiges of them still entangle our hearts. They show up, for instance, in our belief that we’re not worthy to be loved or to be truly listened to, or to be called to something. Feeling unworthy even when we are embodied with the living Christ, with the Spirit of Christ.

So our first and primary calling is not to do something but to be something, to gradually become the actual Presence of Christ in this world.

In other words, to become our true selves. The selves we were created to be. To be that tree, described in our Psalm, “planted by streams of water...whose leaves do not wither.”

To live a life like this, continuously conscious of God’s Presence within and abiding in that Presence is the most profound type of prayer. We “practice His Presence” until our lives become a prayer.

Living this kind of life is what we call “praying without ceasing.”

It is our truest and highest calling.



"EMBODYING SOLIDARITY" THIS THURSDAY February Community Conversation with Ogechi Akalegbere During Black History Month, I have been thinking about how important it is to work for racial justice in community, remembering those who have gone before us. As we continue advocating for policies that advance racial justice like H.R.40, the EQUAL Act, and the expanded Child Tax Credit, I hope you have taken some time to honor the legacy of Congressman John Lewis and be inspired by Deacon Art Miller's lessons of love-driven faith.

Additionally, I hope you can join us virtually for NETWORK's upcoming Community Conversation, Embodying Solidarity, this Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM Eastern. We will be joined by Ogechi Akalegbere, a Nigerian-American, Catholic young adult leader who is passionate about the faith call to do justice. February Community Conversation: Embodying Solidarity with Ogechi Akalegbere Thursday, February 17, 2022 7:00 PM Eastern/4:00 PM Pacific

Sign up here.

Ogechi Akalegbere is the winner of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development's Cardinal Bernadin New Leadership Award. Ogechi will share her experiences as a community organizer with Action in Montgomery (AIM), a CCHD-funded organization in the Archdiocese of Washington, and reflect on the importance of bringing the Catholic principles of solidarity and subsidiarity to our advocacy work. During this community conversation, we will examine questions including: - What do our advocacy efforts look like beyond the legislative visit and the leave-behind? - How can we work to center impacted communities, especially the voices of people of color and immigrants, in our advocacy efforts I hope you can attend this important NETWORK community conversation on Thursday! Sincerely,

Joan Neal

Deputy Executive Director & Chief Equity OfficerP.S. Sign up for Thursday's community conversation here! P.P.S. Don't miss our virtual half-day conference on "White Supremacy and American Christianity" Saturday, April 9 at 12:30 PM Eastern. Register here. Thank you for being a valued part of the NETWORK community.


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