ISSUES OF FAITH: Always keep God close

WE ENTER A time of transitions for many people.

The memory of dropping kids off at school, at universities, at places across the country are still fresh in the mind of my wife and me.

We often talk about whether we’d like to revisit those days.

They were certainly lively, and filled with energy, but that time has come and gone and been replaced with energy of another flavor.

When I talk to kids moving on to college I tell them one thing in particular — keep God close.

The only real regret that I have from my university days is that I did not do this.

Our culture has been kind of ingrained to think that God is confining, a series of “don’ts,”a remover of fun, a cloud.

But when God is absent in our lives we will attempt to fill it with other things, and they will never be enough.

Bishop Robert Barron phrased it this way: One of the most elemental truths that the Catholic Church preserves is that human beings have been created by and for God and that they will therefore be permanently dissatisfied with anything less than God.

This is so true.

God gives us gifts and talents; some very subtle, some very obvious.

We are all so different but we are different for a reason.

We are to complement and complete one another, from the most fantastic sports superstar to the child in the wheelchair.

From the genius that finds a cure for a particular sickness to the plumber who fixes the good doctor’s sink because he can’t figure it out.

None of us are given it all, and none of us have nothing to give.

This is why one of Jesus’s greatest commandments is to treat others as you would treat yourself; this is the person who might save you or maybe you them.

If this sounds dramatic, it isn’t.

Have you ever wondered why you run into someone you might have been thinking about recently?

Or why a random phone call you make, or get, has a much greater effect on you than you would normally think?

God places us in situations or in places he wants us to be, but we don’t always see this.

Begin each day in prayer and ask God for guidance throughout your day.

In other words, keep God close.

Do you feel unworthy to talk to God, or do you just not believe that he exists?

These are very common thoughts and if you read scripture you will see that even the great prophets sometimes struggled with this.

Sometimes we might be just afraid to talk with God because even though we know we must change aspects of our life, we don’t want to be told to do so.

This is called pride. There is only one place where this will lead, and it is not good.

I converse with particular saints during the day.

I know they hear me.

Who are the saints and is it OK to talk with them?

For Catholics, the saints are very much alive.

Recall at the transfiguration how much alive Moses and Elijah were to Peter, James and John.

Today, as I write this, it is the feast day of St. Monica.

She is the mother of St. Augustine who lived 1,500 years ago.

Monica prayed for her son for many years.

He was brilliant, but misguided, and his lifestyle was not in line with a life of faith, a faith that Monica desired for Augustine.

And then after many, many years, he had a conversion.

He became a bishop, a saint.

His books are still in print.

What is the point of this?

If you have a child, a son or daughter, who has left the faith completely St. Monica is a great person to talk to and pray to as an intercessor.

Take these prayers to Jesus, St. Monica. She will.

The more you look at the saints, the more you find particular ones that speak to you.

They are alive.

But remember, they do not substitute for Jesus.

Jesus is the sole mediator between God and mankind, but believe me the saints will intercede for you, just as you intercede for someone here in the world.

Most of us know that we need all the help we can get.

So back to transitions and that wonderful Hawaiian word that means both hello and goodbye — aloha.

Jesus’ earthly life is over and he ascends into heaven and then there is silence as the Apostles look to the sky and then one another, and this must have been an extreme sense of loneliness for them.

But they rallied and God did not leave them orphans. Through the guidance of God and the holy spirit they found strength and purpose.

This aloha moment of hello and goodbye is a part of life, and it is less an end than a beginning.

Keep God close and in a sometimes strange but peaceful way, you most always will know what to do.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is mikea@olypen.com.

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