God's presence

We have a calendar with a daily quote from the writings of Janet Stuart. Some are well known within the Society, others less so. In her short life (she died just before her 57th birthday) Janet wrote many conferences for RSCJ communities, and maintained an extensive correspondence with sisters, former pupils, priests and friends, in which spiritual advice was given and received. So we have been blessed with a legacy of many, many nuggets of wisdom and spirituality.

Yesterday's quote was one I had never seen before, and it took my breath away with its sheer beauty, contained within simplicity, and deep truth in just a few brief words:

May God's presence be ever your living joy and the central fact in your life, from which will flow patience, calmness and an unquenchable joy; with that in your soul you can meet anything.

These words were just the right thing for me to see yesterday, to take me into the new week, with everything it holds. And reflecting on them, I know for sure that God's presence is the backdrop to my life, if not the central fact, whether felt or unfelt. When it is felt then I do experience the fullness of joy in your presence (Psalm 16, from today's Mass), whether that joy be quiet (and all the richer for that) or effervescent. But what of the times when God's presence is unfelt, or so well hidden behind dark clouds that it is faith alone which assures me God is always there?

And I find myself remembering how, a few weeks ago, as we lit a candle before settling down to pray, the wick broke. With subsequent efforts it guttered and spluttered, before feebly producing a microscopic flame which looked set to die out; certainly, buried deep in the candle's hollow, it cast no light about it. And yet, when we checked the candle at the end of prayer, the tiny flame was still there, virtually unseen but clearly much stronger than it appeared. And thus it is at times with God's presence - virtually unfelt but so much stronger than it seems - and thus it can only be with the unquenchable joy flowing into us from that presence.

And I have the assurance and the conviction that with even just a microscopic flame of presence and joy, my soul can meet anything...


  1. Thank you for sharing that quote. It is one I will also share with others.


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