A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Being Present

Posted on: May 7, 2015

Recently, I started going to yoga class twice a week to help relieve tension and improve my flexibility. As we finish up the class, the instructor reminds us to thank ourselves for showing up and being present.

It’s not as odd as it might sound. How often do we “focus” on more than one thing at a time? For example, while we watch TV, my husband checks his e-mail, my son uses an app, and I knit or look at flyers.

In our busy, information-saturated lives, this seems normal. But here’s some food for thought:

Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing.

~ St. Josemaría Escrivá, quoted in “Celebrate May 2015,” Catholic Digest, May 2015

Of course this applies to our time in church: we need to be present at the Mass and engage our minds and hearts—listening closely to the readings and the homily, praying and singing with the rest of the parishioners, receiving Communion with a reverent attitude—and not simply warm the pews.

But it applies as well to our lives outside the walls of our parish church. We need to ask ourselves how present we really are:

  • Do we listen to our children talk about their day, or do we make reassuring noises at the right moments while we carry on with chores?
  • Do we enjoy dinner as a family when we can all be together, or does our favourite show or cell phone hold our attention?
  • Do we check e-mail and text messages while talking with our spouse or parents?
  • Do we really take the time to talk, listen, taste, smell, feel, experience the moment?

If we ever feel that, too often, our attention is divided or our thoughts are somewhere else, I pray that these words from Psalm 118:24 would remind us to be present:

This is the day which the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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