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January 16, 1998     The Message
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i!!!   1998 n The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana search for God THOMAS FAUCHER CaUolic News Service had died was the who had joined the Her own denomination disown him for this, went to the funer- her son. leader of her church son for becoming a for not reject- the leader's all to remember say God is." tations of all reli- it God to what we want aspect of God, a part of God that pleases believe in that part but what suits true theology; does not and dislikes. God Oyed in more ways put togeth- divinely planted in ills the ability to seek and be surprised over God. an person to be Special. Each one of us is t Our OWn special and Ways leading to God are universal, such as through the enjoyed through the :.just as human tastes in so our abili- s presence Some people can look at a sun- set and truly feel the presence of the Creator. Others, looking at the sun- set, merely see the sun disappear- ing over the horizon. Some mathematicians find God in the intricacies of numbers and theorems. But most mathe- maticians find only unsolvable problems there. Many people experience God in the miracle of conception and the marvel of birth, though some do not. Because all good things are made by God and sustained by God, God can be found in all good things. But "things" are not God. And there are things which some people may think contain the presence of God even though, in realit), those things are not where God can be found. There have been people who claimed God as the source of their hatred, their evil, their sin, their desire for revenge, their willingness to do harm. But evil is the absence of God, and God is not found in evil deeds, in vengeful ways or in actions of sin. If someone claims to have experi- enced God and describes God as cruel, hateful, vengeful, mean or capricious, that person has not experi- enced God. People who claim that God is only what they want God to be have cre- ated their own god, limited to their own selfish and narrow understandings. To test whether an experience is truly of God, ask what effect that experience has on the person: If the experience brings evil or is destructive, then it is not of God. e Marketplace n point: met God? .through his miracles. My Erandfather has had three strokes and ,.   . ks still living. I thank God'for allowing my grandfather to live. Scott Gillum, Washington Catholic High School dad died. soraeone to talk to he was there to comfort me and didn't let me v little cave where I can sit and talk to him .... When I feel place .... I know I feel safe tlere and I can talk to God at any Will hear me. Cassie Thomas, Washington Catholic High School when I am trying to deal with a difficult sit- ws me the way and helps me through rough times. r  Kyle May, Washington Catholic High School [ at ray first reconciliation service when I was talking to the priest. rae. ray first Holy Communion [and] at TEC. at church on Sunday.. in the beautiful things in nature... !acts of kindness done by others. '  Sandy Halter, Washington Catholic High School through times when I have to make hard decisions and my faith. void in my life and in my heart. When he is not in my life, that often causes the hard times in my life. Strengthen my faith in order to fill the void and become normal "-- Andrew Dayton, Washington Catholic High School experienced God, but I do believe in God. I believe God life. God at a National Catholic Youth Conference. I felt close had. "-- Amberly Killion, Washington Catholic High School ! "Our ability to find and appreciate God's presence has many manifestations," says Father W. Thomas Faucher. "Some people can look at a sunset and truly feel the presence of the Creator. Others.. merely see the sun disappearing over the horizon." CNS photo by Mimi Forsyth -- If the experience brings love and true freedom, then it is God who has been found. Going even further, God has planted within us a natural desire to break into praise and thanksgiving in his presence. So a true experience of God leads to praise and thanksgiving.Without God, there is no praise and thanksgiving. If someone says that "God is who I say God is," that person limits everyone who believes him to the tiny and narrow understanding of God which he per- sonally has. That is a tragedy, and it leads to bigotry and to intolerance of religious, racial and other positive forms of diversity. We know we can find Gtxt in the Scrip- tures and thesacraments, but GOd wants to be sought by us in many more ways than these. As we search, perhaps we'll sometimes find that we've taken a path that isn't leading as directly to God as we'd wish, and we'll realize we need to make an adjustment. But we must ktp uncover- ing God's presence and celebrating it with praise and thanksgiving. Father Faucher is a priest of the Diocese of Boil,, Idaho, on assignment in the Diocese of Baker, Ore. Should I look up -- to heaven above  for God? Should I attempt to rec- ognize God in the people and world right around me? Or should I listen for God's voice inside me? Where is God? No, this isn't an SAT question with one best answer. Probably the answer is "all of the above -- and more besides." A given person ma}; at different times or under different circumstances, look in different "places" for GOd. I confess that when l'm stressed out, my focus shifts inward, listening there for God's view of things  a view encom- passing a new grasp of whatever is pressuring me. .  i But I beheve God also =s found when I shift my gaze outward. I m sure, for i example, that the Holy Spirit often moves parish smali cits to serve each other as signs of God. How? By welcoming each ; by ing a person's best efforts in the face of difficulties; by  insight Sometimes I particularly welcome the notion of God as a close companion. And sometimes it is the God of all creation i look for, who transcends my immediate circumstances and thus casts them in a new light. David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive!