Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recommended Classic: Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

God is hidden in the mundane and painful of daily life, as well as the Holy Spirit’s leading in the present moment. Such is the theme of Jean-Pierre de Caussade in his classic, Sacrament of the Present Moment. The author invites us to “recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and the most mortifying things that happen” and to embrace “everything equally with delight and rejoicing, and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid” (63).

De Caussade encourages us not to seek God in phenomenal spiritual experiences or acclaimed Christian ministry because the Almighty is found in the most ordinary events of our lives, “in the peace of solitude, in prayer, in submission, is suffering, in succor given to another, and in flight from idle talk and worldly affairs” (19). Spiritual formation is not about the spectacular or the heroic, rather “God reveals himself to the humble in small things” (3).

Because the Lord works in our lives through the challenges of everyday life—of the present moment, no matter what it looks like—spiritual maturity is available to all believers. In order to grow, we “have only to carry out faithfully the simple duties of a Christian and of [our] condition, humbly to accept the suffering involved and to submit without question to the demands of Providence in everything that is to be done and suffered” (4).

“Sanctification consists of enduring moment by moment all the trials and tribulations it brings, as though they were clouds behind which God lay concealed,” writes de Caussade. “The only condition necessary for this state of self-surrender is the present moment in which the soul, light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon” (21-22).

This masterpiece by de Caussade is actually a collection of his sermon notes that were later compiled and published after his death in 1751. It comes into English with a variety of titles, including The Abandonment to Divine Providence and The Joy of Full Surrender. It is the same book—although rendered somewhat differently. I love the translation cited here by Kitty Muggeridge.

Works Cited
Sacrament of the Present Moment, translated by Kitty Muggeridge (New York: HarperCollins, 1982), ISBN: 978-0-06-061811-7.

2010 © Glenn E. Myers

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