“God Still Speaks and Acts Today”
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
Blessed Conchita at one point hears the Lord say, “The Divine Word is pursuing you.” Doesn’t that apply to all of us in some way. “The Divine Word is pursuing you.” “The Divine Word is pursing me.” God speaks to us in the Holy Scriptures. Do we hear him with the ears of faith? But God’s Word in the Scripture speaks to us not just a general message addressed to all humanity. It is this, but through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word speaks to each of you in your individual circumstances. Put in another way, “The Divine Word is pursuing you.” The Divine Word is not just some neutral statement. It has power behind it. It comes with force. It comes with ardent fire of God’s love behind it. “The Divine Word is pursuing you.” Do we have the ears of faith to hear this Word through the Scriptures? This Word personalized to our circumstances and pursuing us with the ardor of Divine Love. Do we want to have the ears of faith to hear like this? It takes prayer and the ears of the heart to hear the Word addressed to us as individuals, to feel the Divine Word pursuing us.
But the Scriptures themselves exhort us to hear God’s word like this. “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts,” we hear in Psalm 95 and hear again as it is re-proclaimed in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4. St Paul in the beginning of Colossians addresses his hearers in words that address us too. Paul begins by thanking God because “you have heard…the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—so among yourselves.” And he prays “asking [God] that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will [right? the knowledge of his will in your personal lives] in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…fully pleasing to the Lord, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:5-10). Brothers and sisters, “The Divine Word is pursuing you.”
God’s Word is not just spoken in some general way but addresses and pursues each one of you. Do you want to hear it better in this personal way? Blessed Conchita can help us here. The witness of Conchita can increase our faith in God speaking to us today, through the Scriptures in a personalized way to each of us. In celebrating Conchita, we celebrate the fact that God still speaks and acts today. He speaks and acts, no doubt, usually in very subtle ways. But the gentle hand of God is also the strong hand of God. The whisper of his voice is mightier than the loudest thunder. It was the still small voice that overwhelmed Elijah because God was there in the silence.
Conchita, as she began her annual retreat in 1935, prayed this long prayer: “Lord, grant me the grace to place my soul at Your feet in full and loving docility to Your divine action, and to act only under the motion of the Holy Spirit, giving myself without resistance to Your love.” “These are God’s days, and…I will offer myself to Him. I will be a nothing that expects everything from the All. What will the Holy Spirit do with me? Where will He lead me? Along what paths will He take me? What sentiments will He inspire in my soul? What abyss will He open up before me? Will He fill me with heavenly consolation, or with unspeakable bitterness? Only He knows! But these days will be full of love, divine intimacy, and total possession by the Holy Spirit. May He deal with me freely. I will be happy with whatever He does, accepting this retreat in advance to please Him. May He talk to me or be silent, immolate me or give me consolation; everything will be of value to me and a token of His tenderness” (UGF, 7-8).
These are the words of a woman of faith. She humbly expects God to act and speak, but in the way he wills, and maybe in silence and emptiness. In Blessed Conchita we find a witness to God’s ongoing action in our world today.
God is the living God and he still speaks and acts today. God dwells in our souls through grace as in a temple and he acts in our souls. It’s a personal relationship. We give and we receive. There’s real communication back and forth. We act but we also receive. For God acts. God speaks to us in his Word, the Scriptures. He comes to us in the Sacraments. He touches our souls in prayer with his delicate yet strong touch.
It happens in faith. It’s a mystery beyond our grasp. We can’t contain it or control it. It’s an encounter always pointing to something more. It’s a mystery beyond our grasp but let us not doubt it. It’s a mystery that calls for greater faith the more we enter into it. God dwells in our souls and he acts in our souls. God is the living God and he speaks and acts today. The witness of Conchita enlivens our faith in this.
“The Divine Word is pursuing you.” The divine Word, Jesus, is pursuing you. What is he pursuing us for? To give himself to us in love. To gaze on us in love that we might gaze on him in love. Contemplation, contemplative love tending toward union. The divine Word, Jesus, is pursuing us to become joined to us and become incarnate again in us, so to speak. So that his love may be incarnate in this world today through our living out his beautiful plans for our lives. This is Blessed Conchita’s message to us.