Two of the greatest temptations we struggle with are being tormented by the hurts of the past and, conversely, fretting about the future. Prayer opens us to now.
Prayer aims to open up to us the miracle of now. Two of the greatest temptations we struggle with are being tormented by the hurts of the past and, conversely, fretting about the future. But in actuality, the only thing that exists right now is the present moment. And that is where God is; that is where God is waiting for us; that is where God is beckoning us.
Abandonment to Divine Providence, one of the greatest Christian classics of all time, proposes to us the grace of the present moment. The author, Jesuit Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade (+1751), speaks of the present moment as “the ambassador who declares the Order of God.” The present moment is the method for living united with the will of God. For “the divine will is an abyss, the opening of which is the present moment. Plunge into this abyss and you will find it ever deeper than your desires.” The present moment is the way in.
Fr. Caussade describes the present moment various ways. “The present moment is, as it were, a desert in which the simple soul sees nothing but God only.” The present moment is also like a storehouse: “The present moment is always full of infinite treasures, it contains far more than you have the capacity to hold.”
But the one thing necessary is always to find ourselves living in the present moment, given over to it … whatever it may bring. “The ‘one thing necessary,’” writes Fr. Caussade, “is what each moment produces by God’s Order.”
Everything has something divine about it that can lead us onward to holiness. Everything is part of that completeness which is Jesus Christ. We can find all that is necessary in the present moment. At every moment God’s will produces what is needful for the task at hand, and the simple soul wants neither more nor less than what it has. What God arranged for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.
No question this takes courage and conviction. “To be content with the present moment is to appreciate and adore the divine will in all we have to do and suffer.” Hence, abandonment to divine providence. To live the grace of the present moment means to opt for unceasing self-surrender. We can be sure that taking the risk pays off:
When the event of the present moment terrifies, starves, strips, and attacks all the senses, it is just at that moment that it nourishes, enriches, and vitalizes faith, which laughs at the losses of the senses just as the governor of an impregnable town laughs at useless attacks.
We pray with Fr. Caussade: “I wish to confine myself to the one and only business of the present moment, to love You, and to allow You to act.”