“What is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Jesus. Love for God is made manifest in Jesus.”
– Pope Francis
While most of our team works remotely, we do have an office at Catholic Leadership Institute, and on any given day, there are usually four to six people sharing space together. Since virtual meetings are a big part of our day, one might hear different virtual meetings happening while getting a cup of coffee or grabbing something off the printer. Printing things is actually how I get my exercise, as the machine sits on the opposite end of the office from where I sit. Recently, while I was getting in my daily steps by printing a lot of copies, I was in earshot of a large virtual meeting. I wasn’t a part of the meeting, but two of my colleagues who happened to be in the office were - one who sits right by my desk and another, by the printer. While I had no intention of eavesdropping, I heard my name said a couple of times. Thankfully, it wasn’t good or bad; it was a discussion about a project I was involved in, and others were wondering what I might think about X or Y. At one point, I leaned into the camera view of my colleague’s computer and said, “Dan thinks it’s a good idea.” Everyone at least pretended that they thought I was funny.
On my ride home - still thinking I was pretty funny - I thought about what a weird experience it was to be in a room, virtual or real, with people talking about you as if you weren’t there and not being able to address their needs, questions, feelings toward a subject. It instantly reminded me of some encouragement I once received from a priest. I was talking about all the things I wanted to say to God, and he responded, “So say them. Now. To Him.” He went on to offer an interesting observation: often when we pray, especially as Catholics, we tend to begin by asking everyone to remember we are in God’s presence and yet, so often the rest of our prayer is offered as if He’s not in the room. How often do I pray to God as if He is the object about whom I speak and not the subject to whom I address? How long can I go without saying the name of Jesus out loud or even addressing Him in the silent prayers of my heart?
A few years after receiving that interesting observation, I was in a crisis. Despite being a lifelong Catholic, it was the first time I knew, beyond a doubt, that He was present in that moment. I couldn’t help but call out His Holy Name. Even after that encounter, I still find myself a little uncomfortable addressing God aloud in front of others. Thankfully, I work in a place where I build that confidence daily. As we move through this ordinary time in the liturgical year, let's remember how extraordinary it is that the Lord is truly present, that He calls us by name, and that we, wherever we are, however we are, have the privilege to do the same.
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