"You are my hiding place, O God"
"See how you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15).
Editor's Note: Today we are bringing you Father's sermon for the 20th Sunday After Pentecost which he delivered yesterday. In the homily below, Father Louis focuses on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians and, to be filled with the Holy Ghost, we must make time to hide in God, that is find refuge in Him through quiet prayer and spiritual reading wherein we grow in our Faith and better understand, in the interior of our heart what is truly God's will for us.
The game of "hide and seek" is probably the most popular children's game of all time. When I was very young I went into hiding one day, sending my whole family - parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles - on an anxious search. My grandmother was hysterical, because her son, my father, had strayed into the nearby Nova Scotia forest when he was about the same age, and the whole community was called out to look for him. I was less adventurous. Someone finally spotted me under the kitchen table. That must have been about 1935, when I was three years old. I didn't know it then, but it was the same year the antichrist of those times, Adolf Hitler was hatching war plans which would soon plunge the whole world into World War II.
Father Louis J. Campbell
History, they say, repeats itself, and as we find ourselves being maneuvered into another disastrous conflict, we must look for wise solutions, so as to "redeem the time." The world's solutions - hatred, violence, fear, and paranoid war plans, must be rejected. God sees and judges all, and there is no peace for the disobedient, as we note from this Scripture passage:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, Today if you shall hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, during the day of temptation in the desert, where your fathers tried me, proved and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was offended with this generation, and said, 'They always err in heart, and they have not known My ways.' As I have sworn in My wrath: They shall not enter into My Rest'" (Hebrews 3:7-11).
We can forget about escaping to some paradise in the Pacific, but there has always been a place of the Lord's Rest, a "hiding place" where we can be safe and in perfect peace. "You are my refuge, O God," says Psalm 118 (Ps.118:114), or, as some translations have it, "my hiding place." From our fears, our temptations, our weaknesses, our illnesses - God is our Hiding Place; from the frantic turmoil in our minds, from the chaos in our families, our neighborhoods, our cities - God is our Hiding Place; from threats of terrorism and war, from hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes - God is our Hiding Place; when we feel alone, abandoned, rejected, persecuted - God is our Hiding Place.
The great spiritual masters, such as St. Teresa of Avila in her book, The Interior Castle, speaks about the Interior Life, and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the depths of the soul. When we pray, we should retreat into that interior place to be alone with God, and to be nourished and restored by Him. This is the place of His Rest. Jesus explains: "But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you" (Matthew 6:6). Prayer, He says, will deliver us from the disasters that are to come, and will bring us at last into His presence: "Watch, then, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to be, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
Now, in order to feel at home in your "hiding place," you must enter it every day. In former times we were called by the Angelus bell three times a day, to ponder, with Mary, the great mystery of the Incarnation. Now we must take it upon ourselves to pray the Angelus, if possible, and to remember God often during the day, taking a moment to say: "Lord, I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You," or even just "Hello, God!" Don't worry if you can't find the words, because prayer is simply "the raising of the mind and the heart to God," according to St. Augustine. These brief prayers "pierce the clouds," he says.
When you get used to spending time in your "hiding place" you can take your Bible with you and read the Gospels, or other passages, and pause while God speaks to you, so that the word of God begins to sink in. "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ," St. Jerome says. Meditating on the Holy Scriptures is one of the best forms of prayer. Your Rosary, also a scriptural prayer, if you don't just say the words but ponder the mysteries, can be a time of deep union with God in your "hiding place."
Prayer is not a copout. The Christian who prays is God's most powerful weapon in this world against the enemy. You pray first, and act later, like Jesus, Who spent the whole night in prayer before choosing His twelve Apostles (cf. Lk.6:12-16). The more important the undertaking, the more important the prayer! Those who rush into action without prayer are like Cervantes' Don Quixote, who jumped on his horse and dashed off in all directions at once. Their efforts will amount to nothing, because they are not doing God's will but their own. This is why the saints accomplished so much. Pray like the saints, and you will change the world. Those who pray to discern the Lord's will, know what to do, and when to do it. When enough of us pray as we ought there will be no more violence, terrorism, or war, and the Reign of Peace will begin.
In the meantime, God is our Hiding Place. We hear it often in the psalms, such as Psalm 26, prayers composed by the Holy Ghost Himself, which the Church uses every day at Holy Mass and in the Divine Office:
"One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple. For he will hide me in his abode in the day of trouble; he will conceal me in the shelter of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock. Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side. And I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of gladness; I will sing and chant praise to the Lord" (Psalm 26: 4-6).
October 7, 2002
vol 13, no. 110
"Qui legit, intelligat" Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons