LITURGY MATTERS: 'Be still and know that I am God'

This verse from the scripture (Ps 46: 10) came unbidden into my mind and heart at least a couple of months ago. I’ve learnt, in my long years, to pay attention when God communicates with me like this!   

And the thing is, this Word of God has not gone away. It persists. Sharpened this week in the context of Sunday’s Gospel, particularly the parable of the wheat and the darnel. A mysterious parable if ever there was one!

I think we’re all busy and feel a deep need to be still. But to focus only on the first part of the verse would be a massive error. For the faithful, the purpose of being still is to not only know God, but to know that God is God.

In a complex, fast world of life and ministry, a world full of wheat and darnel, the imperative for the faithful – and even more so for those of us who exercise ministry within the church – to ‘be still and know that I am God’ is critical. We can easily become an impediment to the Gospel if we do not know God so intimately that we embody and reflect the truth and love of God in our very being, including in all we say and do.

I don’t know about you but, for me, one of the most significant challenges in the parable of the wheat and the darnel is to recognise that there is both wheat and darnel flourishing in my heart and mind, in my words and actions, in my very being. Often when I am still and become more attuned to God, I recognise that the darnel I see so easily in other people and our social and church systems, is the same darnel that is within me. Ouch!

Honestly, I struggle with this parable. Once I’ve spotted the darnel, I just want to pull it out. But then as the scripture reminds me elsewhere, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways. (Is 55: 8-9)

The Gospel is a call into the lifelong journey of repentance or conversion and love, into mercy and forgiveness, into truth and justice, into aligning myself with God’s thoughts and ways. To do this I need, and together we need, to be still and know that God is God.   

As a Catholic community we have great resources that help us to take time to ‘be still and know that I am God’ including:

  • creation
  • a rich treasury of prayer and devotions
  • liturgy, including the sacraments and the Prayer of the Church
  • symbols, music, art
  • mediation
  • mystagogical reflection
  • reflection days and retreats
  • community

Of course, another great Catholic paradox is that when we come to liturgy – most often Sunday Mass – we are anything but still. Indeed, we are required to be full, conscious and active participants. It must be so because in the liturgy God is inviting us to join ourselves to the very life of God which is a life poured out in love for the life of the world. In the liturgy I come to feast on the table of Word and Sacrament. This feasting requires an inner stillness and deep attentiveness so that I come to know that God is God. It is also best served if we take time after the liturgy to engage in mystagogical reflection on our experience.  

How do you build stillness for the sake of knowing God is God into your life and ministry? How do those of us who exercise ministry in this church do that together? How do we open our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds to the darnel that exists in our communities and systems? And how do we promote repentance and conversion in those spaces. How do we acknowledge and heal what is broken? How do we anoint what needs to be strengthened?

There is an annual opportunity to be still and know I am God in September. It is a reflection day called ‘Come Rest a While’. While its initial focus is parishioners, particularly those who engage in the ministry of Christian Initiation, it is an opportunity for everyone. For example, when I look around, I see how frantically busy the staff of our schools are: principals, teachers, support staff. You are welcome too. Click on the link if you’d like to come along.

The Perpetual Day of Remembrance is on the horizon. As I continue to feel the need to be still and know God is God, as I struggle with the reality and wheat and darnel, I find myself turning often to the prayer that was written for this event. I offer it here in the hope that it may find an echo in your heart.

Create a clean heart in us O God.

Where people are disempowered
      may we shine the light of your justice.
Where there is privilege and prestige
      may we shine the light of your humility.
Where there is dishonesty and denial
      may we shine the light of your truth.
Where transparency is lacking and agendas are hidden
      may we shine the light of your integrity.
Where there is fear
      may we shine the light of your courage.
Where there is judgement
      may we shine the light of your compassion.
Where there is disrespect
      may we shine the light of your love.
Where people feel silenced
      may we shine the light of your word.
Where people feel excluded
      may we shine the light of your acceptance.
Where there is sin
      may we shine the light of your forgiveness. 
Create a clean heart in us O God.

May you find time this week to ‘be still and know that I am God’! Let’s think about ways we can help each other to do that.


@ 2024 Gannon Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.