Rev José Mario O Mandía
In 1995, Laura Hammond wrote a little story about her grandparents. “My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word ‘SHMILY’ in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving ‘SHMILY’ around the house.” Her grandparents had explained to their children and grandchildren that it was their way of reminding each other: “See how much I love you!”
Creation is also written all over with these words. God has left traces of His love from the tiniest subatomic particles to the immense galaxies. He is telling us, “See how much I love you.”
That’s why Saint Josemaría wrote: “It is necessary to be convinced that God is always near us. Too often we live as though Our Lord were somewhere far off – where the stars shine. We fail to realize that He is also by our side – always.” (The Way, 267)
And why does He want us to realize that He is next to us? Because He wants us remember Him, and speak to Him. What loving father would not want to be with his children? And what child would not want to feel secure in the warmth and love of his parents? “I keep the LORD always before me” (Psalm 16:8). This is why Jesus taught his disciples that “they ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1).
The Psalms inspire us to be aware of God’s presence, to speak or listen to Him “in the morning” (Ps 5:3; 59:16; 88:13; 143:8); “at night” (Ps 141:2; 63:6; 119:55, 62, 148); “day and night” (Ps 92:1-2; 42:8; 88:1); “morning, noon and evening” (Ps 55:17); “all day long” (Ps 25:5; 35:28; 71: 8, 15, 24; 119:97); and “day by day” (Ps 61:8; 145:2).
But in a busy world, how are we to remember? St Josemaría recommended the use of what he called in Spanish despertadores: literally “alarm clocks.” What does an alarm clock do? It wakes us up. Spiritual alarm clocks are reminders that wake our soul up and make us aware of God’s presence. For example, what “alarm clock” can a person use in a crowded bus? The ringing of some phone. When I hear a phone ringing, I could remind myself, “Ah, God my Father wants to talk to me. He’s looking for me.”
Certainly, we can use religious objects as reminders as well – an image of our Lady, or a crucifix. “Your Crucifix. — As a Christian, you should always carry your Crucifix with you. And place it on your desk. And kiss it before going to bed and when you wake up: and when your poor body rebels against your soul, kiss it again.” (St Josemaría, The Way, 302)
Pope Francis says that “it would benefit all of us to look at the crucifix, to kiss the wounds of Jesus, to kiss them on the crucifix. … Let us kiss the crucifix and say: ‘for my sake, thank you Jesus, for me.’” (General Audience, 16 April 2014)
At Mass, we pray, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.” Always and everywhere.
We can also say “sorry,” we can say “help me,” we can say “I love you,” we can say whatever we want. But the important thing is to stay with Him, because the one who does, Scripture says, is “like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8). “In all that he does, he prospers.” (Ps 1:3)