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“Ask a Priest: How Could One Being Keep Track of Us All?”
Q: I am a Catholic. I was raised Catholic. I go to church on Sundays. I am in a 12-step program through Overeaters Anonymous. This is a program based on a belief in a higher power. I have been in the program for over nine years. I am successful in maintaining my weight loss, but I am struggling with believing in an all-knowing, invisible supreme being. How can one person keep track of the millions and millions of us in the past and in the future? That is my quandary. I am a 72-year-old widow who wants to believe and wants to receive guidance. Thank you. -J.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: You raise a big question: How, indeed, does one person keep track of all us?
First, it is good to note that God is not one person but Three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the core mystery of the Christian faith. It is beyond our capacity to understand it totally. We believe because Jesus revealed it. (“Persons” in God are not like three human persons; rather, they are what theologians call “subsistent relations.” But we don’t need to pause on this point.)
If it seems impossible that God, the Supreme Being, could keep track of all of us, it might be good to look at what he has produced.
At the macro level he has created a physical universe that is estimated to be tens of billions of light-years across (and growing). On the micro level each one of our cells has DNA with billions of “rungs” in it. Our brains, which weigh a little over 3 pounds, have an estimated 86 billion nerve cells. Think of insects. Some weigh a fraction of an ounce, yet they are self-propelled and can reproduce. The wonders of nature are all around us and in us as well.
Who made all this? God did. And a God who is capable of producing so much intricacy, so much beauty, so much grandeur – well, that is a God whose intellect and power goes well beyond anything we could imagine.
And the truly wonderful thing about all this is that this God is a loving God. And you are his beloved daughter. He has looked after you all your life and probably spared you from more trouble than you ever imagine. He also puts a desire in you. You have a desire for perfect love, for eternal love. You mention that you are a widow. I could only imagine the pain you went through to lose your husband. Deep down, don’t you hunger for a love that will never end, a lover who will never be separated from you? That is who God is.
Maybe at this point of life you might just try to pray. Ask God for the gift of faith to trust in his presence in your life. He is mysterious, but he will hear your prayer. And his Spirit can lead you. (For further reading, check out the works of Peter Kreeft, here.)
I pray that the Holy Spirit lead you to all truth. God bless.