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  • Writer's picture thehumanadventure

Seeking a Presence

After years of experiencing faith and life as worlds "divorced" from each other, Alex is starting to live a new unity.

Alex and his community during the Exercises

During the extended winter break that Notre Dame created in its academic calendar this year, I experienced a lot of solitude. In New York, most of the things I would have liked to do were still shut down. My dad works during the day and my mom works during the night in local hospitals, which meant that I was often home alone. Because of my lockdown, opportunities to see friends and family were limited. I was only able to watch Mass online on Christmas and on Sundays.

I was no longer able to access the sacraments or feel the presence of Christ in such a tangible form. However, this is when the spirituality that I have started to develop since joining the Movement two years ago allowed me to remain spiritually strong.

I have learned to see (or at least search for) the unity in all aspects of my life. Although the presence of Christ on the altar is still very real for me, I can now feel the presence of Christ through those around me and in my daily life. Before coming to law school, I worked at a law firm on real estate transactions. I used to go to Mass on Sunday, drawn there by Christ’s presence in the sacrament. After I left, I felt like I needed to use this experience to “fortify” myself for my experiences during the week at work. I felt that since my job was not overtly religious in nature, that simply meant that Christ was not present there.

Now that I am in my last semester of law school, many of my classes have focused on tax and corporate law, yet because of the Movement, I have learned how to feel the presence of Christ in the world around me during my daily life. I can feel the presence during an engaging lecture or while I’m eating with friends. Now that I have learned to feel the presence in this way, I no longer feel like my faith and the rest of my life are divorced from each other.

In addition, I have found my prayer life changed. A few years ago I may have confronted a situation like the pandemic and lockdown by praying for some kind of solution. I may have prayed for my friends and family and for a chance to see them again. Although I still do that, I have come to pray less about specific situations and more for merely the inner peace that I feel in the presence of Christ. Even without any tangible solution to any particular challenges I face, I have come to learn that the most valuable thing I can achieve through prayer is the sense of peace that it brings. That makes it easier to confront whatever challenge I may be facing, even in the absence of an immediate fix.

During my time at home, I began to feel the presence while I was with my parents at home. Rather than simply hoping for the COVID restrictions to end so my life could go back to “normal,” I learned that I could feel the presence even in my constricted daily life. When one of my parents was working and couldn’t make dinner, I would make dinner for the family myself. At least this was something that I could do given the circumstances. When my parents and I could share the food I made, it was a special moment of love and appreciation between us. Even if we were just watching TV, I learned to stop waiting for a “special” event to happen and see Christ in the reality that I was living at the time.

I am very grateful for the opportunities for personal and spiritual growth that I have had since meeting the Movement and how they have helped me face the challenges in my life.

Alex, Notre Dame, Indiana


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