August 26, 2019 | Fr. Patrick Wainwright, MC
I’m seated in a crowded airplane about to take off. I’m on my way to lead a spiritual retreat. For some reason, whenever I’m at an airport, I have the perception of being alone—a feeling you might get frequently, in a world that is so competitive and hyper-connected through social media.
However, as soon as we take off, my mind goes—reasonably—to the fact that this huge piece of metal with a couple of hundred people inside can be flying or floating in the air. Thanks to those laws of physics, the wings create lift, and just like that, we’re soon at 35,000 feet of altitude.
It happens so frequently—there are hundreds of flights every hour throughout the world—that we completely take it for granted. But we forget that those laws of physics—laws of nature—happen to be permanently there. They were put in nature by the Creator, and they are kept there by Him. Nobody thinks that the laws of gravity and physics could hypothetically stop working. However, they actually could interrupt their effect, unless there were something keeping them in place. But because they happen all the time, people forget that they depend on something beyond them.
You, instead, can go deeper…
Through an act of reason, aided by faith, you can recognize that it is thanks to God, your Creator, that the laws of nature continue, day in and day out, to fulfill their force on the rest of creation. This is why you should be thankful to the Lord when you recognize the fact that this amazing creation is what it is because God brought it into existence. Moreover, He is also keeping this complex world in its being, with its laws and attributes—for you.
You see, we tend to take all this for granted—that there is a world, that the sun rises each morning, that there is air to breathe, that the wings will hold the airplane in the air… We tend to forget that we could reasonably ask, like a well-known writer and philosopher did, why is there being, and not nothing instead? And the same applies to all the attributes and internal laws of this world—why is there order, and not chaos instead?
When you see the natural events or things of this world, try raising your mind and your heart to God. When you see a beautiful sunset, the expansive surface of the ocean, or the almost infinite number of stars against a dark, unfathomable sky, remember that all those things, with their perfections, are a dim reflection of the perfections of God. Perfections that He has chosen to place there for you. So the first thing you could do is to thank the Creator for giving you such a gift.
You can also praise Him in your heart for His amazing creation, recognizing His all-powerful ability and incredible intelligence by which He has designed and brought such wonders into being.
It is so easy to pray at any moment of the day! You just need to look around you and see God’s presence and power in all the events and things of the day. Our Lord is present with you, giving every thing its being, its qualities, its senses, its power to think and desire. As St. Paul said, “indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.”
This is a great reminder that God is always thinking about you, that He always cares for you, because He continues to hold the entire world, and you yourself included, in its being for you. So, in fact, you are never alone! God is not only “there”, like these people around me in the airplane, but He is “with you, caring for you”, like a mother carrying her baby child, or a father watching over his son while he’s playing.
This is why you can always speak with God in your heart, tell Him what you’re going through, share your fears, your anxieties, your problems and, yes, especially your joys and accomplishments. Our Lord always listens to you. I dare say, it is impossible for God not to listen to you, because He is the one giving you your being, He is enabling you to think and speak and love. As St. Augustine said so profoundly, God is “more intimate to me than my own intimacy.”
This is why St. Ignatius of Loyola said that we should
…call to mind the blessings of creation and redemption, and the special favors I have received. I will ponder with great affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He possesses, and finally, how much, as far as He can, the same Lord desires to give Himself to me according to His divine decrees. Then I will reflect upon myself, and consider, according to all reason and justice, what I ought to offer the Divine Majesty, that is, all I possess and myself with it.
And also, how we should reflect on how
He dwells in creation…, in the elements…, in the plants…, in the animals, and in man bestowing understanding. So He dwells in me and gives me being, life, sensation, intelligence; and makes a temple of me, since I am created in the likeness and image of the Divine Majesty.
So, while God is distinct from the created world, nevertheless He is permanently present in it.
Whenever you have some down time, or if you’re waiting in line for something, or you’re driving to school, or if, like me, your plane just took off, you can always recall that He is present in and around you. Remember frequently how God cares for you, how He constantly provides everything for you.
You’re never alone—even if the entire world were to leave you aside.
God is always with you, and the fact that you exist is a proof of it!
 See Romans 1:19-20.
 see Acts 17:27-28
 My own translation of the words “interior intimo meo”, St. Augustine, Confessions III, 6, 11. Another translation could be “more inward than my innermost self”.
 St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, #234-235.