We all have a yearning in our hearts to be united with God. Whatever we may own or enjoy in this world, to be joined with God exceeds them all.
No one who seeks God has to feel that they are missing out on the least thing, or are settling for second prize.
First of all, the presence of God includes all good things within itself, raised to perfection and made eternal. Secondly, God so completely fills our souls that there is nothing more we can possibly want.
No matter what you wish for, be it money, goods, power, fame, or even the affection of your spouse and children, the desire is taken up into, purified, and transformed by the love of God.
This means that all good desires are vindicated and are fulfilled beyond anything we can imagine.
St Paul teaches us that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
The more we approach God in reality, the more all our cares and sorrows simply disappear, or rather, become completely passive, because his peace is so full and complete that our hearts and minds are made safe and secure in the certainty of faith and the fulfilment of every hope.
The saints in heaven receive “the beatific vision,” experiencing the presence of God with an ecstasy beyond any other joy.
We cannot have that now, but we can be assured of it, and have glimpses, at least, of something in that direction.
(I am aware of the controversy on this point, but with all respect to the learned writers, I cannot see how any human being can be definitive about what God can and will do.)
These moments, when we have some sense of God’s presence, come to us by his grace. Sometimes they just appear when we are least expecting it.
People have told me stories such as the following: they were crying with grief when suddenly they felt that God was actually present in a way they could neither deny nor explain, and their loved one was somehow with him and full of joy.
Several people have told me, in all sincerity, of wonders which have occurred during ordinary and trivial activities. For example, they were going outside to get the mail when their hearts overflowed with an infinite joy, and they knew God was watching.
We can, perhaps, say that glimpses of the presence and reality of God are always accompanied by some awareness of his goodness, truth, and beauty. We can take these as signs of the presence of God in our world, although in God they all form one, just as he is one. Where God is, these three are.
If you think, for example, of an act of kindness done to you when you were not expecting it, you knew at once that it was good. Also, we see a beauty in the soul of the person who performed the act.
Kindness is an act of virtue, a good in itself; and every act of charity and patience pleases God, and brings us closer to him.
Similarly, consider the beauty of nature, mountains, sea, earth, skies, sun, moon and stars.
The face of God is behind them, so to speak. It is his presence which fills them with the power to touch our feelings.
Look at the wind sweeping through the trees, making music, or listen to the sound of the kookaburra. You know that they are good, and that they point to their infinite Creator.
The English Jesuit poet Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” and that He “fathers-forth” the beauties of nature, while his own beauty is “past change.”
His main theme was that if we are quiet, and look for God with eyes of faith, we shall learn to find him wherever we look. From the beauty of this passing world, our souls can be led to the contemplation of the eternal beauty of God.
The same can be said of truth: it is good to speak the truth in charity. The truth expresses reality, and reality is both good and beautiful while falsehood is a denial of God.
If we wish to approach the presence of God, then we must start by living morally good lives and approaching his chosen means, the sacraments, in sincerity and with faith.