God is Smiling Upon Us

While on vacation this week, I will be reposting 2 popular posts from 2015 and then this week’s Everyday Stewardship reflection on Thursday. 

This post first appeared on July 21, 2015.

Another characteristic of an everyday steward is that he/she is prayerful. It would seem that would be a given. Certainly any follower of Jesus is called to pray. However, this characteristic means more than whether or not one has a prayer life. Prayer is more than just communication between God and us. It is about relationship and living a life with Jesus ever-present in it.

When I was younger I used to explain the difference between those times I felt close to God and those times I felt far away from God as the difference between being able to sense God smiling at me or not. I was too young to articulate it any other way, but I think sometimes the words we use to explain that which we do not fully understand can provide more insight than words based on experience and knowledge. I knew when my spiritual life was not what it should be because I lost that sense of God’s omnipresence around me. It was not that God ceased to smile upon me, but it was that too much of the world had gotten between God and myself so that my awareness of Him was severely blunted.

Everyday Stewards are in constant communication with God. This is not some mystical reality or state of holiness. That could be termed constant communion. Constant communication means that one feels God’s presence continually and is able to share all aspects of his or her life, even the sinful parts. Truly, it is like a child being with a parent. The child will do things in the face of the parent’s disapproval, but the parent is always there and a dialogue continues. Also, with constant communication God is present in the mundane aspects of life: morning routines, checking email, driving to work, etc. The whole point is that we do not turn prayer on and off like talking to God on a mobile phone. Prayer is a constant and consistent reality in everyday life.

One way to cultivate this characteristic for an everyday steward is to begin the day with the words of St. Francis De Sales, “Call to mind that the day now beginning is given you in order that you may work for Eternity, and make a steadfast resolution to use this day for that end.” The steward has begun the day with a conscious decision to offer the day ahead for the glory of God. Then one ends the day with the words of the Suspice by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

The steward now uses this prayer of surrender as a starting point for examining the day that has just passed. He or she has bookended the day with acknowledgement of the reality that all belongs to God and that we are to offer it to Him.

Being prayerful in this manner is not easy. It takes time to cultivate this type of relationship. But to spend the day walking with God, and feeling that smile upon you, is worth all the time and effort.

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