“God is in the Details”

Some have said that it was the German architect Ludwig van der Rohe who gave us the familiar term “God is in the details.”  It would make sense, since he was a great architect, and architects are successful because every detail must be perfect in his creation.

One of the titles given to God Himself is “The Divine Architect.”  It seems to be an appropriate attribute, since God’s creation is indeed beautiful.  But it is the human—and only the human—into which God puts his “Divine Spark,” it is only the man and woman who bear the Divine imprint upon their souls.  In fact, when Michelangelo painted the famous creation scene in the center of the Sistine Chapel, the face of God and the face of Adam are identical, conveying to us the truth that the man is created “in the image and likeness of God.”  And so, indeed God must be in the details

Recently on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bishop Barres wrote a personal letter to all of his priests here in the diocese to express his gratitude for what his priests do every day.  The letter is a beautiful mini-reflection from his heart to ours: “Cor ad cor loquitur—The heart speaks to the heart.”  I want to share some of his reflection with you for two reasons.  First, because it is beautifully and sincerely written, but also so that you might apply it to your own spirituality.  Below is an excerpt:

Dear Brother Priests:

            I would like to thank you for living your priesthood with authentic Christ-centered holiness.  Pope Francis reminds us that “holiness is the most attractive face of the Church.”  When speaking of holiness as it appears in the parish family, Pope Francis reminds us of gospel stories, images and parables.  He states:

  • Jesus asked His disciples to pay attention to details
  • The little detail that wine was running out at the wedding in Cana
  • The detail that one sheep was missing
  • The detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins
  • The detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay
  • The detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had
  • The detail of having a fire burning and fish cooking as He waited for the disciples at daybreak

Pope Francis encourages us and our parishioners to bring this contemplative and evangelizing attention to detail directly into parish life.  A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another, is a place where the risen Lord is present.  And so, I want to thank you priests for noticing the little details of your parish:

  • The detail of knowing the heat needs fixing
  • The detail of making sure the snow gets shoveled
  • The detail of calling someone when they are in need
  • The detail of thanking a married couple for the witness of their marriage and family
  • The detail of gently encouraging a vocation to the priesthood
  • The detail of attending parish functions
  • The detail of realizing that a parishioner has been missing from daily Mass
  • The detail of following up with a family that has experienced a tragedy
  • The detail of praying

By paying attention to the little details, we not only grow in holiness, but we reflect the face of Christ. 

I don’t know if it really was van der Rohe who said “God is in the details,” but I do believe he was correct.

– Fr. Gerard Gordon