GOD IS THERE!
Vere Dominus est in loco isto, et ego nesciebam!
Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not! (Genesis xxviii. 16.)
IN ORDER to form a fair judgment of a family, we must see whether the law of respect is observed. When you meet with a family in which the children and servants are obedient and respectful, you can say: "Here is a good and happy family."
The respect and honor given to parents is the religion of the family, just as respect for the sovereign or his representatives is the religion of societies.
We are not asked to honor the qualities of the individual but his authority, which comes from God.
We owe respect to our Lord; that is our first duty. Under pain of failing in our duties towards our Lord, we must have for Him a spontaneous respect, a respect of instinct that should require no premeditation.
It must be in the nature of an impression in us. We must honor our Lord wherever He is; His dignity as God-Man requires it. In His name every knee bows in Heaven, on earth, and in Hell.
In Heaven, the Angels prostrate themselves before His Majesty in trembling adoration; the place of our Lord's glory is also the place where He receives sovereign respect.
Every creature on earth has obeyed our Lord.
The sea adored Him by becoming solid beneath His feet. The sun and the heavenly bodies mourned Him; they honored Him while men were cursing Him.
And in Hell the damned tremble beneath the justice of the severe Judge of the living and the dead.
RESPECT for the presence of our Lord should not have to be reasoned out. When the court or the King is announced, all stand; it is instinctive. When the Sovereign goes by, everyone pays him reverence. A spontaneous movement of respect and deference greets him everywhere. He who is no longer of that sentiment or who wishes to destroy it in others is no longer a man.
Catholics have much reason to blush for their lack of respect in our Lord's presence. I am speaking only of spontaneous respect.
Enter a synagogue; if you speak or do not behave properly, you are expelled.
Before entering a mosque, you are requested to take off your shoes. All these infidels have nothing real in their temples, but we have everything. In spite of that, their respect far surpasses ours.
Our Lord might very well say the devil is honored more than He is. "I have brought up children . . . but they have despised Me."
I ask mothers whether they would be pleased to be disowned publicly by their children. Why do we do to our Lord what would offend us so much if it were done to us? Why are we less sensitive when our Lord's honor is at stake than when our own petty dignity is?
Nothing could be more false. Our dignity, in fact, comes to us from no one but God, by reflection from Him to us. When, therefore, we allow respect for our Lord to be lost, we destroy the respect due to our own selves.
Oh! If our Lord were to punish us for our lack of respect as we deserve!
God had Heliodorus scourged for profaning His temple; but there is more than the temple here.
Let us, therefore, give our Lord this first homage of a sentiment of respect as soon as we come into His presence. We are but wretches if we allow levity or carelessness to precede this homage.
Yes, our greatest sins against faith come from our lack of respect.
HE WHO believes knows where he is going when he goes to church: he is going to our Lord Jesus Christ. On entering the church, he says to all his occupations, like Saint Bernard: "Stay here at the door. I feel the need of seeking comfort and strength from God."
Act in the same manner. You know how much time you are to spend in church; forget everything else. If you come to pray, you do not come to transact business. And if you are pestered with distractions and worries, turn them all out of doors without getting troubled over them. Persevere in prayer and make acts of reparation and of respect. Take a better posture, and let our Lord see that you detest your distractions. By your respectful attitude, if not by the attention of your mind, you are still proclaiming His Divinity, His presence; were you to do only that, you would be doing a great deal.
Watch a Saint enter a church. He goes in without concerning himself with those who are already there. He concentrates on our Lord and forgets everything else. In the presence of the Pope we hardly give a thought to cardinals or bishops. And in the Saints do not idle away their time honoring one another; to God alone they give all honor and glory. Let us imitate them; our Lord is the only one in church.
Remain quiet for a moment after you have come into church; silence is the greatest mark of respect, and the first disposition for prayer is respect. Most of our dryness and lack of devotion in prayer is due to our lack of respect for our Lord on entering the church; to our disrespectful posture.
Let us therefore take the firm resolution to foster in ourselves this instinctive respect; we do not have to appeal to reason for that. Must our Lord prove His presence to us every time we enter the church? Must He always send us an Angel to tell us that He is there?
It certainly would be most unfortunate if He did, but, alas! quite necessary.
YOU owe our Lord exterior respect, which is the prayer of the body. Nothing helps so much the prayer of the soul. See with what religious care the Church has regulated the minutest details of exterior worship. It must then be that this prayer gives great glory to Jesus Christ. He gave us the example of exterior worship by praying on His knees; tradition tells us He prayed with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and lifted up to Heaven. The Apostles have handed down to us this manner of praying; the priest uses it during the Holy Sacrifice.
Since our body has received its life from God and lives on the Divine favors that are constantly", showered upon it, does it not owe God something? We must then make it pray by giving it an attitude full of respect. Careless postures of the body unnerve the soul, whereas a crucifying posture strengthens and helps her. You must not torment yourself by taking too uncomfortable a posture, but let it be stern enough. Postures that denote too much familiarity are out of place in the presence of God; they breed contempt. Love our Lord; be tender and affectionate towards Him, but never exaggeratingly familiar. Dryness and lack of devotion in prayer are nearly always the result of disrespect in posture.
When you are traveling or when you are saying extra prayers at home, You may take a less uncomfortable posture, but in the presence of our Lord you must also adore; externally with your senses. Remember how strict God was on this point in the Old Law, and what a number of preparatory details the Levites had to go through. God wanted to make them feel their dependence on Him and prepare them to pray well.
Our piety is agonizing because we lack this external respect. I know that we should not tremble with fear before God, nor be afraid to come into His presence; but, on the other hand, neither should we seem to be despising Him.
An austere posture helps us to pray better; but we refuse this help in order to satisfy our sensuality. We imagine we are tired; how often our imagination deceives us! If the Pope were passing by, our imaginary fatigue would not prevent us from remaining on our knees. And even supposing that we are really tired, why be so afraid of suffering, which gives wings to prayer? We should at least have even then a becoming and grave posture. Let the lay people sit down if they are tired, but in a becoming manner; they should not slouch in their seats. Let them not take any position that would tend to weaken the soul's energy and render it unfit for prayer. We religious, however, should remain on our knees; that is the correct posture for an adorer. If we grow too tired, we should stand up; that, too, is a respectful posture. We should never sit down. Let us be the soldiers of the God of the Eucharist. And if our heart is not burning with love, let our body at least bear witness to our faith and our desire to love and to do things properly.
Let our body therefore take the attitude of prayer, of adoration. Let us all form the court of our King Jesus! Keep the presence of the Master in your thoughts; impress your mind with the truth of it. Let all your attentions be for our Lord Jesus Christ! Vere Dominus est in loco isto. Truly, the Lord is here.
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