Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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The following are the thoughts that captivated my mind last Tuesday on my 101st birthday. The secret of my longevity and also the secret of my peace and joy can be expressed completely in just three words: I am We.

I am We is a startling way of expressing the omnipresence and imminence of God which is solid Catholic doctrine. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) If God were not in me, I would not be.

I am not made. When you make something you organize preexisting material. And when you get finished you can walk away. It doesn’t need you anymore. I am created. When God creates something out of nothing He must continually preserve it in existence. For example, if I stand in front of a full length mirror I create my image in it. If I walk away the image is gone.

Think of a sponge in the ocean. The sponge is upheld by the ocean, every fiber of the sponge is interpenetrated by the ocean. The sponge is not the ocean and the ocean is not the sponge. That is how God is in me. I am not God and God is not me. The Godless, self-autonomous self does not exist.

Nature speaks in exclamation points about the imminence of God. “The hills are mute but how they speak of God. There are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stone, and God in everything.” Every bush is burning. The Jesuit motto, FINDING GOD IN ALL THINGS, is simply the awareness of the imminence of God.

In spite of all of this, one of the biggest booby traps in the spiritual life, and quite common today, is to forget: I am We. And then proceed to cross oceans, climb mountains read this book and that book make this retreat and that retreat, consult this guru and that guru looking for God when all of the while He is present in me. It is like the absent minded professor looking for his glasses which are resting on his forehead.

St. Augustine tells us in his Confessions about this futile search for God that so characterized his early life. “Late have I known thee, late have I loved thee. All these years I was looking for you outside and all the while you were here. And I didn’t know it.”

Our Lord has not only gone on before us to show us the way. He also goes along in us as our guide and companion. Awareness that I am We makes our journey of faith a joyful, exciting adventure and we begin to realize that joy really is the most infallible sign of the AWARENESS that I am We.



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