Friday, October 25, 2013

Notes From a Novice: Knowing -- By James J. Janicki

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Photo credit:  Sarlat - Orange Faith by Justus Hayes /
Shoes on Wires /
See additional notes about photo in footnote

What we want is not always what we need. Earlier this year I reflected on time spent at St. Leo and time away in my daily life. I chose to reconcile the monastic and secular facets of my days by praying to see God in everyone regardless of circumstances. I now choose to believe this prayer request is harmless if not somewhat misguided.

Asking God to see his reflection in every person I encounter whether directly, in passing or simply observing those in my immediate environment may be construed as a well intended but selfish request with the primary purpose of reconciling some personal stress or anxiety when confronted with people or situations that do not at first glance meet a personal ideal of “monastic perfection”. The desire to find my way to God and realize fuller, richer peace filled days regardless of immediate circumstances requires additional meditation and contemplation viewed from new perspectives, a higher level view and better focused understanding of what I may mistakenly believe I do not possess, the ability to see God and God’s gifts in every living creature.

Some of us, possibly most, have countless human interactions daily whether through direct contact, indirect influences on others through our actions or in written word. Each and every one of these human contact moments offer us the opportunity to graciously reflect in varying degrees of light, God’s love and gifts. The reality of our daily lives and actions may show we don’t take advantage of these opportunities as often as we are willing to admit. With limited imagination regarding our ability to effect change or action for good with God’s help, I still recognize missed opportunities as a significant personal loss as well as losses for all of us to more fully experience the unfolding of God’s plan for our world. These same human contacts often go beyond missed opportunities and become human encounters creating road blocks and hurdles to others and possibly inflicting pain where mutual gain, love and creativity might grow. It is in these all too frequent negative human encounters I first prayed to see God in everyone.

In a moment of stillness a thought, new to me, occurred; who am I to ask God to see Him in all people? This may be a fine thing to ask but it must be enough to believe, come to an understanding and ultimately know God is present within each of us. If knowing God is in all of us requires consciously “seeing” some aspect of God in every human encounter I cannot begin to believe I am closer to hearing God’s word for me now than when I was an infant. The great fullness of peace I believe we all seek is much greater than a brief good feeling or kind smile from a family member, friend, co-worker or stranger. The peace I seek and the God I wish to know comes from all directions from boundless distance and at the same time carries no burden of weight and moves through all without effort at immeasurable speed and at the same time worries not about time. I do not believe I could ever come close to standing before God if I need the reassurance of seeing Him in all people. Instead, I now work to believe and remember without “seeing” God is in all so that in time I may come to know this without thought or effort and possibly take one small step closer to opening myself to God and living in peace among God’s many gifts. I believe for me the first efforts require remembering God is in everyone even in less than comforting encounters. Remembering leads to believing; believing God is with everyone helps me to pause and think before I act or react so that I may better reflect God’s love and blessings through my personal actions. Believing leads to knowing; knowing God is in all of us does not require sensory affirmation of God’s presence. Knowing God is present at all times helps me to think and act more clearly to play out my small part in God’s unfolding plan for perfection. It is my belief knowing God is ever present and living to the best of my ability leads to days filled with peace, fullness, richness, confidence, comfort and constant companionship.


Photo credit:  The photo is Sarlat - Orange Faith by Justus Hayes / Shoes on Wires / 
Justus gets my thanks for the excellent photo, for tagging it so it could be found, and for providing it in a high-resolution format.  Much appreciated.

Here are more Notes from James Janicki


  1. James notes on Knowing bring to mind some words from St John Climacus, the 6th Century Abbot of St Catherine"s Monastery on Mt Sinai.
    If you wish to draw the Lord to you, approach him as disciples to a master, in all simplicity, openly, honestly, without duplicity, without idle curiosity. God is simple and uncompounded, he wants the souls that come to him to be simple and pure. Indeed, you will never see simplicity separated from humility.
    The Trappist monks have a frequently used motto "We know that we don't know". Maybe that's the way we should approach God. With simplicity and living in the mystery.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Excellent reference to the Trappists, that is a good addition to these concepts.

    Thank you.

    1. donmulholland1935@wowway.comNovember 21, 2016 at 12:34 PM

      Thanks, John, for continuing to offer the opportunity for oblates to share. My daughter is currently undergoing chemo for brain cancer. She has had surgery and radiation therapy and is now in a chemo regimen. The latest MRI shows no new growth and appears promising. Thank you and all for their prayers.