In All Things by Monsignor Ferrarese

One of the key insights in the theological thought of St. Ignatius of Loyola is that we can find Christ in all things and through all things. Writing and preaching at a time when the dominant direction of Christian Spirituality was a rejection of worldly values, which is encapsulated in the Latin phrase Fuga Mundi (Flee the World), St. Ignatius taught his followers to try to discover the presence of Christ in all things. So the vast educational system of the Jesuits was born. Christ can be found in Science and in the Arts and in Politics. Being spiritually minded means, according to St. Ignatius, to find Christ in all things (except of course in evil and in sin).

This goes completely against the compartmentalization of faith that is rampant today. This is when we seek to find God only in the distinctly religious. In this misunderstanding of things, we think that we can pray only in Church and that our spiritual and religious life is exhausted just by going to Mass on Sunday.

The other 23 hours on Sunday and the other 6 days and nights of the week are ours to play in and God has little or nothing to do with that time (that is, of course, unless we need Him to do something for us!).

One can readily see the weakness of this understanding. Christ gives us as the first and all encompassing commandment: Love God with your whole heart [your whole self]. That means that we cannot love God partially or restrictively. It is all or nothing with God.

There are some interesting practical consequences to this theological understanding. While it is great to admire religious art and symbols, we can begin to see God in the many ordinary things of life: the smile of a child, the gnarled hands of an elder, rain falling down on a city street, the playfulness of a puppy, the resignation of a sick person, the courage of a firefighter, the beauty of a model, strains of a love song, the laughter of an audience, etc. The presence of God is not just in a distant heaven; it is also in the very marrow of our bones.

This is one of the reasons why there are so many cures of blind men in the Gospels. We are all blind to the presence and activity and communication of God all around us. This carnal trap of perception is the reason for many of the world’s problems. Because we do not see the incomparable value and beauty of God’s presence, we settle for lesser things and even begin to want things that are by their very nature destructive. The history of addictions clearly manifests this insane propensity to prefer enslavement to momentary pleasure, to the majesty of God and to the dignity of our beings. Blindness to the spiritual is a tragedy of incalculable proportions.

Another result of seeing God in all things is that we are immersed in the whole of creation and not just the parts that we have been trained by our own history to appreciate. Perhaps, for instance, God has shown us his presence in the beauty of a sunrise. But by being open to all of reality, we can also see Him in the meticulous precision of the scientist, and also in the taste and polish of the artist as he or she labors over a portrait being painted.

This advantageous use of our perception transforms our every minute of existence into a communication from God to us. Our lives are therefore really a dialogue with God who is continually revealing and communicating Himself to us, and we are either responding to or ignoring these self-communications. The preeminence of the Word of God as revelation is that it gives us the keys to recognizing this dialogue and the spiritual language to help us to respond to God. Study of the Scriptures, therefore, is necessary so that we can understand what God is saying and thus be able to continue the dialogue.

After a day in our ordinary pursuits (e.g. going to the store, cooking dinner, going to work, riding the Subway, etc.), we can enter a Church and appreciate its hallowed ground and the Real Presence of Christ in the Tabernacle because we have been in His presence all day! We do not go from absence to Presence in walking into a Church, but to an intensifying Presence that can overwhelm us with its reality precisely because we have been with Him all day.

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