I recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. It was eight days filled with history, architecture, sights, smells, and experiences that immersed us in a glimpse of what the life of Christ was like. We got to wade in the Sea of Galilee and renew our baptisms in the River Jordan. We prayed at the Church of the Annunciation and touched the stone that tradition tells us is the place of the birth of Jesus. It was a trip crammed full of amazing experiences and very little rest.
Surprisingly, the most spiritually significant moment on the trip for me wasn’t at one of the famous holy sites. It was actually just outside the Old City in a small chapel where we attended Mass the Sunday we were in Jerusalem. It was a small gathering of pilgrims celebrating Mass in a simple but beautiful sanctuary. We arrived early enough to spend time in quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament which helped me switch gears from the go go go of being a tourist to the calm needed for prayer. During the Mass, I found myself tearing up from time to time at the simple beauty and the felt presence of God in that moment and in the Eucharist. I felt reunited to God halfway across the globe from the home where I usually spend time in prayer and worship with Him.
This quiet simple Mass was an important reminder to me about noise. The noise of life doesn’t keep God from us. No, He’s always there beside us journeying with us through our lives But, the noise of my busy life keeps me from seeing and feeling Him. But, even when I don’t see or feel Him, He’s still there. I don’t need to see or feel His presence for His presence to be real. But if I want to see God in my heart and in my life, I have to slow down, be still, and listen.
I learned a lot on this trip. Much of it was about the life of Christ. Some of it was about the history of the Jewish people. Some of it was about the modern political and religious conflicts. But the most important thing that I learned was about myself and my relationship with God. I learned that I need peace and quiet to feel close to God. And I re-learned how hard it is to find either of those things in a modern life. The challenge now is to not forget that lesson too soon.
Have you felt the need for quiet to feel God’s presence in your life? If so, how do you find time for quiet in your busy life?
This blog was written by Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis here at St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re interested in writing a blog for St. Francis of Assisi, please contact Joseph at [email protected].