Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

I was excited to discover this book in the Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI) library since I read the full-length translation of Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence in college and absolutely loved it!  This quote from the text beautifully sums up the richness contained in this book: “How I long to be the missionary of your divine will, O God, to teach the world that there is nothing easier, more ordinary, more available to all than saintliness.”   

I found The Sacrament of the Present Moment very encouraging.  So often I have felt that I should conform to certain standards, methods of prayer, types of study and action, but Caussade describes how God’s grace and the inspiration which comes from the Holy Spirit don't look the same for every person.  It is important that we listen to and discern what God is calling us to each moment—a desire to do His will above all else and an openness and submission to His plan for our lives.  

I’m reminded of the song by Danielle Rose called “The Saint that Is Just Me.”  There have been many times in my life when I have seen how someone else is living and figure their path to holiness is one that I should follow or emulate, that their trials, tribulations, joys, and sorrows should also be mine.  I’ve been often reminded that isn’t true.  

God has a unique call in my life that is meant to be lived out in a way that is different from other people’s.  The beauty of it is that we are each called to grow closer to the Lord, develop faith, trust, and love on deeper levels as His grace, mercy, and providence permit.

Being resigned to the will of God is what souls tuned-in to the Holy Spirit share.  Their calls and even the specific ways they live out similar calls, ministries, and/or vocations bring to light the vastness of God love, blessings, inspiration, and nurturing for each one of us on the path to saintliness and eternal life.  Teresa of Avila's poem "Into the Hands of God" is a beautiful prayer for discernment.

What deeper layers and richness would I glean from reading Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence in its original French?  What do people think of me who know the many spiritual books I’ve read?  Do they wonder why the heck I don’t have a more disciplined prayer life and a better grasp of even some of the topics I've studied so fervently?  Does it matter what they think?  No, it matters how God sees me, though I can’t honestly say that I’m not affected or wonder about the opinions of others.

This is a prayer I wrote in one of my many prayer journals in March 2008:

     “Lord, so often we seek the approval of our family, our friends, our colleagues, and society and are easily swayed by their opinions.  Please help us have courage enough to turn to You when we need guidance, and put Your view of us, Your wishes for our future, and Your thoughts about our words and actions, above those of other people around us.
     You alone know our hearts completely.  You alone know what is ultimately best for us.  Inspire us to spend more time listening to You so it is easier for us to separate Your will from our own and those of the people closest to us.  Protect us from despair and disillusionment by arming us with the truth, the strength to do Your will, and the wisdom to submit everything we are and have to You.  Amen.”                   
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