All people have had an experience of the Lords power and glory as the almighty Creator. It only takes a moment to recall a time that you were moved by a walk in the woods, the beauty of the ocean, the brilliance of the fall foliage or the wonder of a newborn baby. We also can find ourselves overcome by the wonder of loving another human being and finding the deepest parts of ourselves affirmed and celebrated in that relationship.
Somehow, without any notice, God surprises us and we are overcome by the wonder of Gods glory in creation. We all treasure this special experience. In such a moment, we find life very beautiful and blessed. It is common for these experiences to make us ask, How can anyone doubt the existence of God before the glory of a sunsets brilliant color?
Although not always a daily experience in our fallen state, the glory of Gods creation is very much a part of our human dignity. God did not create the human person to stand as ornamental statuary in Gods garden. No, God created the human specifically as person, that is, one in relationship to others. The human person by definition is always understood as existing in relation to God, to other people and to Gods creation. In this way, the person becomes part of Gods glory, as St. Irenaeus teaches, Gloria Dei vivens homo! (The Glory of God is a man fully alive!)
St. Ignatius of Loyola observed that after we experience Gods glory, we often find ourselves with a feeling of being spiritually moved by God. However, he also noted that with the passing of time, we slowly slip away from feeling near or inspired by God.
Although we may retain a memory of how God moved us, our experience of Gods glory failed to transform the way we look at God, ourselves, others and the world. In short, our heart remains short of conversion and Gods love, and any experience of a deeper abiding joy seem elusive.
St. Ignatius offers us an organized way of seeking God in our daily experiences.
Called the examine or the examination of consciousness, St. Ignatiuss method of appreciating the movement of God in daily life has one great obstacle today unchaste busy-ness!
The primal moral and spiritual question should be obvious: Is what we are busying ourselves with the will of God? Is your daily routine bringing you to personal fulfillment by drawing you closer in loving relationships with God, other people and creation? St. Ignatiuss examine is a way for the believer to get out from behind all the activities and demands of modern life.
The Ignatian school of spiritual theology connects the examine to development of the ability to sift through the movements within us and acknowledge which spirits are of God and which are not. There are five easy steps to the examine that will, over time, foster spiritual growth with lasting benefit to your relationship to God, others and creation.
1. Recall that God is with you. Appreciate the fact of Gods presence. Allow yourself to fall still and quiet.
2. As you find yourself before the Lord and in peace, think of the concrete gifts that you received today and thank God for them.
3. Turn to the Holy Spirit and seek guidance. With the Spirit, be confident that Gods will will be revealed and provide you with a confident direction in life.
4. Now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, examine your day from beginning to end. What habits do you see? What opportunities did you enjoy or miss?
5. See yourself as one created and now invited by God to a newness of life. Aware of Gods love for you, in your heart make a clear and intimate resolution to God to choose to bring glory to God in the coming day.
Thus, the glory of God is to be found in a believer fully alive in and for God: living every day for Gods glory. For St. Ignatius, this became his life motto: All for the greater glory of God, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!
Father Michael Hinkley is Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish and the Shrine of St. Anne, both in Waterbury.