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The Wow Zone
by The Most Reverend Joseph C. McKinney
Awe and wonder are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are also called Fear of the Lord. They introduces us to a level of spirit life that is animated, elevated and gladdens. Our Spirit bubbles. I call it the WOW ZONE--in God's presence. It is beyond words. Descriptions fall short. One has to experience it to know it.
My mother liked to stop and contemplate the sunset--it put her in the WOW ZONE. She enjoyed it especially when it was over Lake Michigan when there were a few clouds in the sky. For me sunrise is even more so a WOW ZONE. As darkness dissipates, light comes and nature comes alive. When an orchestra plays Beethovens Ode to Joy or a Choir sings Handel's Alleluia, for me it's a WOW. The secret of the WOW ZONE is not so much what happens around us as what happens within us.
Vatican II describes five different ways in which God is present to us. Each magnifies the Lord; each gets us into the WOW Zone. The first is whenever we hear Gods word proclaimed. When we experience it as Gods word, wonder comes. For me it is a consistent WOW. Whenever I assimilate, "You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Mat 3:17) How can you top that? Being a favorite of God sends me into orbit.
The second way we experience His presence is whenever two or more gather in His Name; He is in our midst. The risen Lord is there when we look beyond the human presence and experience the bond of love that unites us with each other. For example, a boring meeting can be transformed by the realization of the presence of the Risen Lord. I remember one such meeting that was going nowhere until one person asked, "What would Jesus do?" Then, divine flames started to glow.
The third way we can experience Jesus' presence is in the person of the priest. For some of us, its so easy to get caught up in the human side of a priest that we forget that God is using him to lead his people. As a priest, Ive watched people with stewards' hearts respond with their time, talent and treasure not because of my persuasive powers but because they detected the opportunity to serve Him. Its a wonder to behold when people unite behind an activity of the Lord. God truly does even greater things in His people than Jesus did. Our organized efforts to help the poor and downtrodden are always a wonder. It is usually generated because the people heard Jesus in their priest.
The fourth way is that Jesus is present in his power whenever a sacrament is celebrated. Its a WOW to see a baby become a saint in Baptism. A WOW to see a couple bonded in Christ as they begin their married life, to see a sinner relieved of guilt embrace the peace of the Lord in the sacrament of penance. It is a WOW to see a young man ordained to a life of service for God 's people. It is a WOW to see a young person glow with the gift of Pentecost at Confirmation; to see a person receive the Eucharist for the first time; or to feel anxiety leave a person who faces a serious illness after receiving the anointing of the sick. In all these instances, there is Gods power associated with the sacrament and its a WOW Zone.
The fifth way is his real presence. When we understand the presence of the Risen Lord really, truly, and substantially in Holy Communion, it is a wonder beyond words. How can one not be thrilled when one witnesses the bond of Communion that leads to godlike holiness? Its awesome just to note the glorious gift of God himself that can best be described as "HOLY COMMUNION, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body" (Catechism 1331). Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him". [Jn 6:56]
The WOW Zone is even more glorious when one recognizes the presence of God in nature whether it be a trade wind, a moonlit night, a waterfall, a stream, or as my mother did in a sunset or I in a sunrise. These are opportunities to enter the WOW Zone.
The greatest obstacle is our desire to cram too many things into each day. Most of us need to relax and drink God's presence in. The best way I know is to sit in silence in the presence of the living God for ten minutes or more each day. No words needed. Just let the wonder of his presence take over. Wow!
Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the January 1999 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue. Bishop Joseph C. McKinney, Diocese of Grand Rapids, was ordained a priest in 1953. He has served as a teacher, pastor, spiritual director, assistant chancellor and vicar general. A popular conference speaker, he is the former Chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
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