The awareness of God’s presence is a lot like a mother holding a baby. Think of a mother who might be wearing some kind of wrap or device in which a baby is held close to the body. As she carries the child through her activities, she may not be actively thinking about her child’s presence, especially as she focuses on what needs to be done. However, she has a general kind of awareness of the child which is in part instinct and also partially the effect of her devotion and love. Thus, intuitively she is aware of where the child is without explicitly thinking about him or her. We can have a similar kind of awareness of God’s presence in our lives throughout our day.
What often keeps us from this awareness is our failure to practice cultivating a life of prayer. The noise and pleasures of this world numb us to God’s presence. We become so filled with the things of this world that we fail to hunger and thirst for something more. Desire is important to cultivating this awareness, and if we do not desire this precious gift, we will probably not receive it. Many of us are simply not looking for anything more than what the world has to offer.
To cultivate a supernatural awareness of God’s presence does not mean that we reject the good things that God has given us. Rather, it means that we learn that created goods are meant to dispose us to receive Divine goods. Food, friendship, prestige, equanimity, health, and the other things of this world can be elevated and transformed in the life of grace. Part of this transformation is learning to be receptive to God in the moment by developing a life of prayer. Through formal prayer, we learn to tune our hearts to God’s presence. Particularly, in adoration we gaze into the mystery of Christ’s Eucharistic body, and we train the heart through faith to look past appearances and see the mystery of God present in the moment.
This practice must also include living a moral life. The interior stillness of communion with God is tied directly to how we relate to the others and to the world. Our life must be in harmony with the precepts given to us by God, not because they represent an arbitrary set of rules, but because they represent a deeper wisdom which leads to authentic human flourishing. God longs for us to be happy, but not simply happy in the sense of the immediate gratification of the senses. True happiness is deeper; it persists in good times and bad.
Like our relationship with our children, we must set time aside to simply be with our Lord. The devotion and love of a mother is a direct result of her gaze upon the child, her loving attention to the child. We must spend time to simply be with the one we love, our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way, our lives become marked not by the drudge of toil and obligation, but the spontaneity of love and devotion.