Occasionally, I have to ask my son to change his shirt before Mass on Sunday. I remind him that the church is God’s house, and that makes skull t-shirts kind of inappropriate.
While the church is God’s house, I think we tend to forget this point the apostle Paul made in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?”*
The priest reminded me of this verse yesterday during his homily. He gave us a prayer that he advised us to say often throughout our lives: “God within me, I adore you.”
This prayer is short but profound. We can easily forget that, just like the temple in the Old Testament, any church is far too small to contain God’s presence. As King Solomon said in 1 Kings 8:27, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!” We can forget that God is with us—not just in that hour or so on any given Sunday morning, but always—and that we receive Jesus when we receive the Eucharist. We can think it’s all right to leave the practice of our faith at the doors when we leave and pick it up the following week, or when the summer holidays are over, or the following Christmas or Easter.
In fact, at all times and places, God is with us. The writer of Psalm 139 recognized this when he asked God (in verses 7-8), “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”
If we remind ourselves that God is within us, we will be more mindful of his presence and our need of the wisdom, gifts and comfort available to us through the Holy Spirit.
We can take a cue from the words of the hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I pray that we would be more aware of God’s presence not only on Sunday in his house but every day in our hearts.
(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition).