I was a bit disappointed in myself. Ever since I started working in ministry, it was getting more and more difficult to attend daily mass. My work schedule was chaotic and sleep was hard to come by. Before this time, I had only a part-time, afternoon job which afforded me the opportunity to attend daily mass. It gave me such peace, and it truly started my days off right when I went. As such, when I was no longer able to regularly attend, I felt as if I were taking steps backward in my faith. My confession that month went something like this:
Me: “Father, I feel like I could do a better job at prioritizing my relationship with God. Ever since I started this full-time position, I am just too tired to wake up in time for morning mass. I’m going to try harder to make it at least once a week.”
Priest: “It’s wonderful that you find so much peace attending daily mass and that you enjoy being at church, but it seems like you are putting too much pressure on yourself to go. You know, God is not limited to these church walls…”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Priest: “God is omnipresent. He can be found everywhere. The mass is beautiful, and yes, it is an essential part of our faith. We are called to keep the sabbath day holy, and we are mandated by God to attend mass on these days. Daily mass, however, is not. It is great if you are able to go and receive the Eucharist more frequently, but if you are unable to attend, it doesn't mean you ‘missed’ your opportunity to be with God. Think about it, how many times in a day do you wait for something? …when you are falling in line at the grocery store? …sitting in traffic? …waiting for class to start or for a friend to show up?”
Me: “Maybe three to six times a day? Why?”
Priest: “Well, we often don't take advantage of these times and see it as ‘wasted’ when really, these are wonderful moments to be with God. Of course, you should still carve out intentional time with Him each day. My point, however, is that even in these seemingly ‘mundane’ moments of our lives, God is present, and we can meet Him there. You can talk to Him while you are falling in line to purchase your groceries. You can listen to Him speak to you through Christian music while you are driving to work. You can pray the rosary or read the Bible while you wait for your friend to show up. Do you understand what I am saying?”
Me: “I think so Father! I never thought about it in that way, but you’re right. I don't have to wait until I'm at church to pray. In addition to finding God at mass, I can find Him all around me!”
Father: “That is exactly it! Yes, attend mass, but also, remember that you can spend time with God in other ways too. He can be found anywhere.”
Some of you may be thinking- seriously, Carrell? This is your deepest, darkest confession? Of course not! I assure you that this was one of my lighter confessions, but even still, I thought it was significant to share for various reasons.
For one, many of us get stuck on a certain form of prayer or fallacious idea that God is only present when __________ (feel free to fill in the blank). For me, it was “…when I am at church.” For some, it is “…when I am on my knees praying the rosary.” For others, it is “…when I attend Bible study,” to name a few. This, however, cannot be further from the truth.
God can be found anywhere. He is in the hearts of all the people He has created. He is in all of nature and every living thing. He is in you. He is in me. He is truly all around us.
What does this mean?
You can spend time with God at any moment of the day and in any place.
So, the question really becomes- Where would you like to pray? What type of environment or spaces help you to hear God more clearly or connect with Him more deeply?
Is it by yourself in a dim lit room with candles, a crucifix, and a bible? Is it while you are taking a quiet stroll in your garden? Do you feel His presence more when you are in front of the Blessed Sacrament?
Wherever it is, take time to create or go to this sacred space, and remember, God is not limited to that place alone. Your ideal sacred space may change. You may prefer to pray reading the Bible on the beach one day, and then, alone in your room the next day. The important thing is to make time for God because that is what will help you to keep growing in our beloved faith!
May you feel His loving presence all around you, and may you always remember that He can be found anywhere!