“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

Tomorrow we will remember the victims of September 11, 2001 in our prayers as we mark the sixteenth anniversary of that tragic day. As I prepare this article, Irma and José are continuing on their destructive paths. We should include the victims of these storms and those of Harvey in our prayers as well. I hope we can reflect and find consolation in the following truth of God’s love and Providence in and over our lives.

Deep within each of us is a hunger and thirst. For some, the feeling is so strong that it is never quite out of mind. For others, the feeling is repressed and hardly noticed, although it remains a part of them.

The simple fact is that the very space we take up and all that is around us did not always exist. There was a beginning for space, for all that is around us, just as there was a beginning for you and me. We move from one place to another and just as we move through and occupy our particular space, we also move through time. Time did not always exist either; there was a beginning even for time. Time, too, is a created thing.

It seems there must have been a beginning for everything and everyone. That is what our lived experience seems to demonstrate. We can think back through the time of our own experience—before this child, before this job, before I met my wife or husband, before I left the home of my father and mother—but I cannot think of me before I was conceived. However, we know there was a thought of each of us before we were conceived and born. If we try, we can imagine our parents dreaming of each of us, even before we were created. And if we can imagine that, we can imagine so much more.

For before there was a universe and before time was created and the ticking of the clock began, there was and is and always will be God; God who not only loves, but who is Love.

Before there was anything or anyone other than God, who is the Altogether Other, He thought of you and He loved you, first as a thought and in life as a person endowed with a spiritual soul. And He has great plans for each of us. The longing—that hunger and thirst within us—is the “longing for God who is our first beginning and our love for Him who is our final end.”

St. Augustine, writing of this hunger and thirst said, “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”  (St. Augustine, Confessions – Book I. Chapter I.)

The wonder and love that cannot be surpassed ring out in God’s words to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Think about it. God thought of you and in His thoughts He loved you. Because of His love you are. Because of His love you will always be. We are all philosophers because we all wonder at some point why we are and who we are. The Truth is that God Alone is the answer to all life’s questions. He desires you. He has great plans for you in this life. And He has great plans for you in the life to come where every tear will be wiped away and where toil and suffering will be no more.

In the midst of this dangerous and sometimes dark world, in the midst of pain and suffering is love—our love for one another and the Love of God for each and every one of us. In that Love, poured out in His Son, is our salvation, our life, and our peace. Jesus merited this grace on His Cross. He offers it to you freely. And freely you must accept it.

Lord, may each of us come to know and embrace your love and gift of life. Help me to trust and surrender my will to you. What more could I want than for You to abide with me? Jesus, I trust in you.

Into the deep…

For your reflection, Abide with Me, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, with treble solo by Bruce Blyth. This was sung at Mother Teresa’s funeral and also by my cousin Judy at my dad’s as it was his favorite hymn. I believe it is also a fitting hymn at this time of remembrance.

[youtube id = “PmjuqZSH_aY”]

“Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent” (Luke 24:29).

Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.

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