By Thomas Morehead
I went to a Christian Brothers high school, (more years ago than I care to remember). There are many things for which I am grateful for having had the opportunity to attend such an institution. One in particular is the tradition of the ‘Ringing of the Bell’. A small bell sat on the desk of a number of the teachers and they would, periodically, pick it up and lightly ring it. Following the ring they would simply state “Let us all remember that we are in the presence of God.” Then they would continue with class making no other reference to the interruption. It is something I have carried with me my entire life. An awesome consideration; I am in the presence of God!
I think we could all agree that most of us act differently when we know we are being watched. The test of true character comes when we act and no one is watching. How do we respond when we are unobserved? I’m not suggesting that we would something illegal or immoral just because no one is around; but I am saying that most of us clean up our act when other people are around. We care what others think of us, and how we are judged by them.
Some of the most personally rewarding times of my life have come in service to others. I taught GED classes to underprivileged prisoners for a time. Working with them was difficult at times however when an individual would pass I received a great deal of satisfaction. Their happiness and gratitude was overwhelming, so much so that it caused me to question my motivation. Was I teaching to help the students or to gain fame for myself? I discussed this with my spiritual advisor (a Benedictine nun) and she indicated that as long as my was primary motivation is to help those I was teaching, then I should accept the positive feelings as I gift; a reinforcement from God that I was doing His will. She asked me to consider the possibility the there are no truly pure motivations. Since we are imperfect beings we cannot be expected to have perfect motivations. Jesus, our best example, always did what His Father willed, and He did so because it was His Father’s will. Jesus was able to completely suppress His human wants and desires in deference to His Father’s. While we try to act as selflessly as He did, we must admit that we are unable to do so. Our acts of love and Christian charity are in part motivated by personal wants and desires. I constantly strive to minimize my personal wants and maximize the Glory of God in all my actions. God knows what is in my heart. I must keep in mind that I am always in the presence of God.