Today the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Francis de Sales. This Francis was not one with whom I had great familiarity until a priest who meant a lot to me (now deceased) shared with me his devotion to Francis and suggested that I would benefit from reading his Introduction to the Devout Life. The book is considered to be a masterpice of devotional literature and is suitable for everyone, regardless of where they are on the spiritual path.
In the book, Francis suggests that we begin all prayer by placing ourselves in the presence of God and invoking his assistance (sounding very much like St. Ignatius). He outlines several principal means for placing ourselves in God’s presence and in honor of his memorial I thought I’d share what he says about the value of intentionally reminding ourselves that we are in the presence of God. Francis writes:
God is in all things and all places. There is no place or thing in this world where he is not truly present. Just as wherever birds fly they always encounter the air, so also wherever we go or wherever we are we find God present. Everyone knows this truth but everyone does not try to bring it home to himself. Blind men do not see a prince who is present among them, and therefore do not show him the respect they do after being told of his presence. However, because they do not actually see him they easily forget his presence, and having forgotten it, they still more easily lose the respect and reverence owed to him. Unfortunately, Philothes, we do not see God who is present with us. Although faith assures us of his presence, yet because we do not see him with our eyes we often forget about him and behave as if God were far distant from us. We really know tht he is present in all things, but because we do not reflect on that fact we act as if we did not know it. This is why before praying we must always arouse our souls to explicit thought and consideration of God’s presence.