Catholic Commute S02E05 5 Ways to be Present

You can't influence someone who you aren't with

Today we have distractions all around us.  Multiple pieces of technology constantly attack our attention.  Phones are beeping, email is calling, and news updates are flashing.  It’s harder than ever to actually be in one place at one time.  Yet, it is critical that we are present with other people to enable real relationships.  I can think of no greater challenge in the technological age than truly being present with people amidst the noise of technology.

In this episode I explore the topic of Presence.  People cannot connect to us or believe that we think they matter if we aren’t actually present with them.  This concept isn’t new – what’s new is that it’s now possible to be physically present but not mentally present in totally new ways.  To establish meaningful relationships, to truly affect the change we desperately want to affect, we must be present with people.  In this episode I present my thoughts about how to do that.

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S02E05 5 ways to be Present


St. Philomena

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint , virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue. Amen.

Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular to love all those around me.

Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us. Amen.

O God, Most Holy Trinity, we thank Thee for the graces Thou didst bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, and upon Thy handmaid Philomena, through whose intercession we implore Thy Mercy. Amen.




Little is known of St. Philomena’s life and she is the only Saint to have revealed her story via private revelation. She was martyred at about 14-years-old in the early days of the Church.

In 1802 the remains of a young woman were found in the catacomb of Saint Priscilla on the Via Salaria. It was covered by stones, the symbols on which indicated that the body was a martyr named Saint Philomena. The bones were exhumed, cataloged, and effectively forgotten since there was so little known about the person.

In 1805 Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, Italy was in the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity (Treasury of Relics) in the Vatican. When he reached the relics of Saint Philomena he was suddenly struck with a spiritual joy, and requested that he be allowed to enshrine them in a chapel in Mugnano. After some disagreements, settled by the cure of Canon Francis following prayers to Philomena, he was allowed to translate the relics to Mugnano. Miracles began to be reported at the shrine including cures of cancer, healing of wounds, and the Miracle of Mugnano in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured a severe heart ailment overnight. Philomena became the only person recognized as a Saint solely on the basis of miraculous intercession as nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.


S02E05 5 ways to be Present


What does “Present” mean?

Book: The Charisma Myth… Oliva Fox Cabane


Why is it important to be Present with others?

  1. They do not take us seriously
  2. They do not think we care about them
  3. They feel unimportant.
  4. We cannot really connect unless we are Present


How to do it?


  1. Put down electronics
    1. Study in journal “Environment and Behavior” The iPhone Effect
      The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices
      Shalini Misra, Lulu Cheng, Jamie Genevie, Miao Yuan
    2. it was found that conversations in the absence of mobile communication technologies were rated as significantly superior compared with those in the presence of a mobile device, above and beyond the effects of age, gender, ethnicity, and mood. People who had conversations in the absence of mobile devices reported higher levels of empathetic concern. Participants conversing in the presence of a mobile device who also had a close relationship with each other reported lower levels of empathy compared with dyads who were less friendly with each other.
    3. We all know this intuitively.  We all feel like we’re competing with technology
    4. People do not feel noticed or loved if you are distracted by something digital.
    5. Take notes on paper
  2. Repeat what they’re saying
    1. Communication is hard
    2. The Echo Effect: How Repeating People’s Words Improves Social Interaction
    3. he language people use reflects the reality they live in. Psychology research shows that language can have a strong influence on how we think about our world and perceive it.

      When you use the “echo effect,” you – to some degree – put yourself closer to the world that the other person lives in. This gives you a better chance to empathize with that person and truly understand where they are coming from and why they speak and behave in the way they do.
    4. Also important to gain clarity
    5. It signals you’re on the same page
    6. It improves comfort and likability
  3. Don’t focus on your response
    1. Our body language shows when we’re thinking about something else
    2. It means we’ve stopped listening
    3. It creates a state of tension
    4. It inspires defensiveness
  4. Focus on your body
    1. Make one good slow breath
    2. Think about how your toes feel (connects everything in the middle)
    3. Solves distraction
    4. It “reads” the same as being present.
  5. See the other person as Jesus
    1. St. Teresa: “Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
    2. Just imagine how rapt your attention would be if it was, in fact, Jesus
    3. Now imagine how awesome someone would feel by that level of attention
    4. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We do gives ourselves that level of attention.


S02E05 5 ways to be Present.

  1. Put down electronics
  2. Repeat what they’re saying to yourself
  3. Don’t focus on your response
  4. Focus on your body
  5. See the other person as Jesus


Really it comes down to loving the other person.


Closing quote: Hans Urs von Balthasar

“Once a person learns to read the signs of love and thus to believe it, love leads him into the open field wherein he himself can love. If the prodigal son had not believed that the father’s love was already waiting for him, he would not have been able to make the journey home – even if his father’s love welcomes him in a way he never would have dreamed of. The decisive thing is that the sinner has heard of a love that could be, and really is, there for him; he is not the one who has to bring himself into line with God; God has always already seen in him, the loveless sinner, a beloved child and has looked upon him and conferred dignity upon him in the light of this love.”― Hans Urs von Balthasar

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