“O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!”

This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Paul H. Colloton, OSFS

I just finished preaching two retreats at different Motherhouses of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Last week I was in Great Bend, Kansas. We reflected on their commitment to: “Be Peace! Build Peace! Preach Peace!” This is the tenth anniversary of their founding.

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To build peace or preach peace one must be at peace in one’s heart. In The Introduction to the Devout Life, Chapter 2: St. Francis de Sales notes that “Just as wherever birds fly they always encounter the air, so too, wherever we go — or wherever we are — God is truly present...Thus you must say with your whole heart and in your heart, ‘O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!’” This became one of our mantras throughout the week: “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here.” We placed our hands on our hearts as we prayed these words.

When this week’s De Sales Weekly is received in email boxes, it will be July 4th, Independence Day, the 243rd anniversary of our independence as a nation. One reality to which our founders responded was the need for freedom and the recognition that all people are created equal and have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. God is present in all people, or, as St. Francis de Sales said: “Wherever we go – or wherever we are – God is truly present.” Since God is present in all people, including you and me, I invite you to place your hands over your heart and pray: “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!”

The reality is that all people are God’s children. So all people can place their hands over their hearts and pray: “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!” And yet there are people we might not include because we question their value or their worth. We can have trouble seeing another person as a reflection of the God in whom all of us are created because they differ from us. It is true that evil is so present in some that I have to look hard to see the spark of God that de Sales and God would see in that person. But there is still a spark. As the song says, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going,” text, by Kurt Kaiser, from the hymn, “Pass It On.” It only takes a spark from God offered to you and me to make clear that God is truly here, even when we dim God’s light within us by sin. Yet, God reignites us at those times. God is present wherever we go or are.

On the Statue of Liberty that greets people in New York Harbor, we find these words from New Colossus by Emma Lazarus:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Every person who seeks harbor in our country, no matter where they enter, is a child of God, since God is the Creator of all. And so everyone seeking harbor here can also pray: “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!” Lord, give us eyes to see! How will we make clear that these words also reflect our national heart on this 243rd birthday/ “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here.”