At Mass one Sunday morning, as I was kneeling after receiving Communion, I glanced up to see a man pushing his wife’s wheelchair over to the Eucharistic minister.
I watched the husband patiently stand by his wife and coax her to open her mouth to receive the host. I found out later that the woman had early onset Alzheimer’s. The tragedy of this disease was eclipsed by the unconditional love I saw in this husband living out his marriage vows. It was an example of pure and beautiful love, a true display of a Godly marriage and faith lived out loud.
During my spiritual journey, I have struggled to feel close to God during Mass, despite knowing He is physically present. I yearn for this closeness, and I feel jealous when I hear others talking about their profound experiences with the Eucharist. This intimacy has always felt unattainable to me, and while I don’t know why I haven’t experienced it, I keep going back.
I hope for this one day, but in meantime, God has found other ways to draw me closer to His heart.
God speaks to me through small, day-to-day miracles — through interactions with strangers or in the beauty I find in art or nature. It can be as simple as a funny conversation, witnessing an act of humanity, or observing from afar how people treat one another. When I find a piece of art that is profoundly beautiful, I am always awestruck by how our talents are God-given, and the act of using them is a way of saying “yes” to God.
Catholics sometimes have the impression that we must reject all things “worldly,” but my faith experience has led me to embrace the world and to not be afraid of what it has to offer. My mom always describes this approach by saying that we are meant “to be in the world, but not of it.”
This doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance of everything, but rather only of the pure, beautiful, and true. It’s so easy to get caught up in the despair, sadness, and unsightly things we come across on a day-to-day basis. The goodness that presents itself in the simple minutiae of life can lead us to God’s presence.
The saints were my first examples of what it means to live a holy and faith-filled life that puts God first. The saints are amazing role models, and their example can teach us how to find God in the everyday. Many found holiness removed from the world, however. The lives of some of these holy men and women seem distant and unattainable — we are not all called to a monastic religious life or to spend hours each day in prayer.
Many saints lived as lay men and women, though — they lived in the world, embracing what it had to offer. Gianna Beretta Molla loved fashion and travel; Pier Giorgio Frassati organized hiking trips and enjoyed the theater; Philip Neri would play harmless practical jokes on his friends.
These holy men and women made it to heaven while living in this world and having a zest for life. Their experiences of the world — in all its beautiful, messy, and majestic glory — allowed them to experience God and grow closer to Him.