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Finding God in a noisy and busy world

There are places where we expect to find God and to be in awe of the sacred: grandiose basilicas, intricate stained glass, majestic mountain ranges. Yet, there are places where we least expect to find God, and somehow His grace is made present: a booth of a Chinese restaurant, the aisles of a grocery store, the messy living room where the floor has become a Lego minefield.
Whether it’s called “heart happy” or “God moment,” we can find ourselves acutely aware of the omnipotent and omnipresent God. It’s these unexpected moments of grace when we can find God in all things, to borrow an ideal of Ignatian spirituality.
Like light piercing through the clouds, God’s love permeates our lives even in those moments when we feel far away from Him. The question remains, though — how can I be more aware, more present, more receptive of God in my life?
I often hear from young people that they desire a deeper prayer life, or even an existent prayer life. This generation of teenagers has a few names so far, such as Gen Z or the Homeland Generation; the name I prefer, however, is the iGen, as they are digital natives and have always had access to the Internet and smart phones. Generational research is showing that simply put, their brains are wiring differently.
For young people, it’s almost counter cultural to unplug, to have a phone that only makes calls, to be blissfully ignorant of the latest YouTube personality or influencer on Instagram. How can they find God in the stillness and silence when their entire world is noisy and gratified instantaneously?
The recent synod of bishops with young people, and Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Christus Vivit,” draws attention to the necessity of mentors for young people. Each of us in the pews is a youth minister. Each of us can model what it means to be holy and to become a saint for a young person. Our young people deserve witnesses who can show that holiness is not only possible but achievable.
Our families seem busier than ever before. Someone recently asked me the standard question about our weekend, and I replied, “Oh, the places we go” in a trudging reference to the famous Dr. Seuss book. The fact is that families are busy and on the move constantly between work, school, extracurricular activities and so on.
As a husband and a father, how do I find God in all things when the dishwasher is overflowing, dinner isn’t cooked and soccer practice is in 30 minutes? We go to Mass as a family, but sometimes beyond that, it can be difficult for us to find the sacred in our family home.
That’s the crux of our problem, though. We strain to see the sacred in places we expect to find God at the expense of simply recognizing that family life IS holy. The family is the domestic Church and parents are the first and primary passers of the faith.
Being open to the Holy Spirit moving in our lives is a great first step. Recognizing that we do not have to do extravagant or great things, “only small things with great love” as Mother Teresa said, is the next. Yes, praying with my family is good and sacred and holy. Playing UNO as a family, or reading together, or swimming in the pool together is good and sacred and holy, too.
If we become who God meant for each of us to be, and to do that to the best of our ability, we have the capacity to truly build the kingdom of God. St. Catherine of Siena reminded us, “If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze!” To find God in all things means that we often have to look inside ourselves, to remind ourselves that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit and that Christ dwells within us. We then are sent out on mission, to be like Christ in our specific vocations —marriage, consecrated single life, priesthood or religious life.
If we slow down for a moment, we can open our eyes to God’s presence in our families and in our lives. We can appreciate the moments when your son says how much he loves you as his dad and that you’re the best dad he could hope for … in the booth of a Chinese restaurant. We can be grateful for the moments when you see the beauty of your spouse…in the aisles of a grocery store. We can treasure the saints that we are making and the saints that God has called us to be … in the messy living room where the floor has become a Lego minefield.
— Adam Ganucheau is the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mobile. He may be emailed at aganucheau@mobarch.org
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