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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | The practice of being alone with God adds new depth to our witness to the Gospel

Practice being alone in the presence of God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In this last week before Holy Week, the readings are filled with characters who in one way or another find themselves intensely alone with God.

Of course, that will lead to a week in which Jesus finds Himself needing to go to that place, interiorly, where He is intensely alone with God so that He has the strength to carry the Cross.

The question for us becomes: How can we practice going there regularly?

In the Catholic spiritual tradition, we speak of “practicing the presence of God.” That’s a beautiful and important spiritual practice. This week’s readings encourage us to add another category and discipline: the practice of being alone with God.

We hear the story of Susanna, who gets trapped by the evil designs of two wicked judges. She places herself alone before God, which gives her the strength to resist their evil plan. Then, we hear the story of the young Daniel. God stirs up his spirit, and in the midst of external clamor, he finds the capacity to be alone with that still, small interior voice that comes from God. This gives him the insight and the courage he needs to uncover the evil plan of the judges and save Susanna.

We read Psalm 23, and its meditation about being alone with God in the valley of the shadow of death.

We hear about the woman caught in adultery and how in the end she is left alone with Jesus — who neither condemns her nor excuses her sin.

We hear about St. Joseph, alone and wondering what to do about Mary’s mysterious pregnancy — how an angel of God comes to him in his perplexity and gives him the strength to take Mary into his home.

We hear about Abraham standing alone before God, and how God made a covenant with him. Then Ezekiel invites us to think of how ancient Israel ended up in trouble every time they didn’t stay in that posture of being alone with God and how, in the Exile, God took them away from the land to teach them how to be alone with Him again.

We hear about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who must have regularly practiced being alone with God. We see how quickly and easily they found the strength and courage to resist the pressure to commit idolatry. Then, when they ended up in the fiery furnace, God came to be alone with them there!

So often in our lives, we think something like this: “Sure, I’ll face trials. If I could just be surrounded by my people, then I might find the strength to do and say the right thing.” But what if like all the characters we read about this week, we regularly practiced being alone with God? Then, like them — and, ultimately, like Jesus — we might find the strength to do and say the right thing even when we stand humanly alone because we’re comfortable in the space where we’re alone with God.

If and when we practice being alone with God it adds new depth to our witness to the Gospel. It allows us to enter our own “Holy Weeks” with Jesus.

From the Archive Module

SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS The practice of being alone with God adds new depth to our witness to the Gospel 9448

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