I have an awareness to recognize signs, sometimes referred to as "signal graces", that can have different meanings to me. Sometimes they tell me that I'm on the right path (to holiness), sometimes they mean that things will be okay, some are an answer to a prayer, and some signify God is with me. I don't exactly remember when I first started noticing them, but I'd guess it was during my teen years when I consciously started on my faith journey to know God.
The signs I receive are a huge gift to me and have often come at times of great anxiety or despair. I know they're real--I don't believe in coincidences. Not in these matters.
I went on a "Christ Renews His Parish" women's retreat this past weekend. Actually I went as a retreatant last year. This year I had the privilege of participating on the team that presented the retreat to the women of my parish. When I returned home, one of my sons who enjoys open discussion on faith, asked me about the retreat. He wanted to know what types of activities we did and how it all went, etc. I love sharing in this way with my kids, especially when they are the ones initiating a deeper knowledge and understanding. I told him about one particular woman who was sharing about a personal Marian apparition she had experienced when he said, " how come God never shows himself on earth anymore?" I was a bit surprised by this. I know he was referring to the fact the our Blessed Mother is known to make her appearance and send messages in a very tangible way to some, but not recognizing God on earth?? I think this young man wanted to see the face of God just as people have seen the face of Mary and been delivered special messages. "Son," I said, " God shows himself here all the time. Are you not recognizing Him??"
I then went on to tell him of some powerful ways that Jesus was present during the retreat. (I might add as a side note that the evil one also made his presence known on several occasions.) One of the most powerful signs from God was received during the Reconciliation service. The ladies processed in song into the church to hear a little talk by our priest and to receive guidance on Examination of Conscious. During this time, a violent storm began to rage outside....torrential downpours, lightning, thunder, the works. Part of this activity involves an outside fire pit that the ladies walk to and then symbolically they let their sins burn away into ash. Of course this means walking outside in this horrific storm! (it also meant a mad scramble to move the fire pit into a covered area). The ladies took their time during the examination of conscious and we leaders looked out the church doors with worried expressions. And then, God appeared. As the ladies one by one walked to the confessional, the rain slowed to almost nothing and then a rainbow....a completely full rainbow..... appeared in the sky right over the area where our fire pit was. Now, if you don't see God showing himself to us in all this, then maybe you're looking in the wrong places!!!