Shandra Emrich is a Catholic wife and homeschooling mother of five boys, three of whom she has graduated from high school. She graduated from Thomas More College in New Hampshire with a degree in philosophy, and holds a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Avila Institute and Heart of Christ Spiritual Direction Program. She teaches occasionally for a local homeschool co-op and parishes. She loves to ski, hike and backpack in God’s beautiful creation.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am.” This is the dream in the heart of Jesus. The King of the universe wants us to be with Him! We have all seen young lovers who want only to be with each other all the time. If they can’t be together, they want to be constantly talking to each other on the phone or texting, always communicating, always in touch with each other. This is how our Lover, Jesus, desires us, with an attentive, possessive love. He wants us to be with Him all the time, and He wants to be in communication with us all the time!
But how can we possibly be with Jesus in the way He so deeply desires, when He is in heaven and we are here on earth? It seems like we can only be with Him once we are in heaven and are able to actually see Him face to face. In this life, He sometimes seems so out of reach and hard to find. But the Church gives us very beautiful, concrete contact with Jesus. In every Mass, we know that He is truly present in the Eucharist, and when we receive Holy Communion, Jesus Himself comes into us, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We are filled with His presence, physically and spiritually. He comes bounding over the hills, racing down from heaven, in His desire to be with us and within us. We can be acutely aware of this at the Consecration and when we receive Holy Communion. His dream is fulfilled when He enters us and fills us completely with His presence. For a space of time after we receive, we are with Him where He is.
But it is not only when the Eucharist is physically present within us that we are with Jesus. He told us, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.” What a beautiful promise! If we keep His commandments, we will be in a state of grace, and the Trinity will come live in us. His own divine life will abide within our souls. We can lose the treasure of His presence through mortal sin, but regain it by making a good Confession. It would be a tremendous gift to us if we constantly ponder and are continually aware of the presence of the Trinity within our souls.
While the indwelling Trinity is within us we are also in Them! God is everywhere, and He surrounds us with His presence and love. He is always holding us in His arms, in a constant loving embrace, creating us and holding us in existence at every moment. If, for a single instant, He were to forget us, we would instantly cease to exist. So, while He dwells within, and penetrates into the utmost depths of our soul, completely filling us with His presence, He also embraces us in His tender, warm, fatherly bosom.
One way we can practice an awareness of His presence is through prayer. At the beginning of each time of prayer, we do well to become aware of in Whose presence we are and to Whom we speak. When my children were small, they would wake up in the morning, still groggily half asleep, and stumble downstairs to find me in my prayer chair. There they would snuggle in for a little while as they slowly woke up. I can’t tell you who enjoyed those moments of warm closeness and love more, me or my child! This loving embrace is what Jesus and His Father enjoy while, for all eternity, Jesus is in the bosom of the Father. The love between them is the Holy Spirit, so we know that He is there too, in the embrace of love and joy that lasts forever. That is where Jesus wants us to be, where He is eternally! He invites us, His children, into this embrace first thing in the morning, while we are still groggily half asleep, finding ourselves in His warm embrace, surrounded by the love of the Trinity. We spend time in prayer letting Him tenderly love us and returning his love with all the devotion and intimacy our little hearts can muster. Who can tell who enjoys those moments of loving closeness more? The Father or the child?
Over the years, as we practice frequently becoming aware of God’s presence in and around us, He in us and we in Him, it becomes easier and easier. It begins to grow and spread into a more continual awareness of His presence in our soul. We find God draws us into conversation with Him more and more throughout the day and night, and we find ourselves enjoying His presence all the time. While heaven waits for us on the other side of death, even now, here on earth, we can live a foretaste of it because we know God dwells within us and is present to us in the Blessed Sacrament. We need never be alone! We can always be where He is!