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Excerpts from 'Devotional Classics' edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) Introduction to the Author Little is know about the life of the Jesuit Jean-Poerre de Caussade beyond the bare facts of his career. He was born is Toulouse, France and was ordained a member of the Society of Jesus in 1708. Although he was by no means unrecognized as a scholar and preacher, there is only one mention of him in the Jesuit calendar and the only book he published, 'Spiritual Instructions on the Various States of Prayer' appeared anonymously and for a time was attributed to a more popular contemporary. Two key phrases have become identified with his name. The first 'self-abandonment to divine providence' implies a dynamic surrender of ourselves to the will of God. the second, 'the sacrament of the present moment' awakens us to the requirement of doing our duty, what ever it may be, a carrying out of God's purpose for us not only this day or this hour but this minute, this very minute. We who long to press into the heart of God wil find comfort and hope in de Caussade's joyful surrender to God's will and constant discovery of God's loving purpose in the midst of life's trials and tribulations. Excerpts from 'The Sacrament of the Present Moment.' 1. God's order, His pleasure, His will, His action and grace God's order, His pleasure, His will, His action and grace; all these are some and the same. The purpose on earth of this divine power is perfection. it is formed, grows and is accomplished secretly in souls without their knowledge. God's order and His divine will, humble obeyed by the faithful, accomplishes this divine purpose in them. To quench thirst it is necessary to drink. We must humble accept all that God requires of us to do. That He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best and most divine for us. 2. What God ordains for the present moment All we need to know is how to recognize His will in the present moment. Grace is the will of God and His order in the center of our hearts when we read or are occupied in other ways; theories and studies without regard for the refreshing virtue of God's order, are merely dead letters, emptying the heart by filling the mind. God's order and His divine will is the life of all souls who either seek or obey it. In whatever way this divine will may benefit the mind, it nourishes the soul. these blessed results are not produced by any particular circumstance but by what God ordains for the present moment. What was best a moment ago is so no longer because it is removed from the divine will which has passed on to be changed to from the duty to the next. And it is that duty, whatever it may be, that is now most sanctifying for the soul. 3. The fruit ripens If the divine will ordains that reading is the duty of the present moment, then reading achieves that mysterious purpose. This divine will is infinitely wise, powerful and benevolent towards souls who totally and unreservedly put their trust in it, and who love and seek it alone and who believe with an unshakable faith and confidence that what the divine will ordains each moment is best, who look no further afield for vain comparisons with any material benefits God's order may bring. 4. Jesus Christ in the center of our being The will of God is the presence, the reality and the virtue in all things, adjusting them to souls. Without God's direction all is void, emptiness, vanity. The divine will is the wholeness, the good and the true in all things. it is the will of God that gives everything, whatever it may be, the power place Jesus Christ in the center of our being. this will knows no limits. 5. God's purpose in the present moment Whether contemplation, meditation, prayer, inward silence or activity, the best is God's purpose for us at that moment. Every moment and in respect of everything, they must say like Paul 'Lord what should I do?' Let me do everything you wish. The Spirit wants one thing, the body another, but Lord, I wish only to do your divine will. Supplication, intercession, mental or vocal prayer, wisdom, sacraments are nothing Lord, compared to Your purpose which is true. It alone and nothing else however sublime or exalted is the object of my devotion since the purpose of grace is the perfection of the heart. 6. This secret union The presence of God which sanctifies our souls is the Holy Trinity which dwells in our hearts when they surrender to the divine will. God's presence coming to us brings this secret union. It is being united to the will of God that we enjoy and possess Him and it is a delusion to seek this divine possession by any other means. 7. We must set no bounds We must accept any way He chooses to communicate with us and respect any way it pleases Him to unite Himself to us. Without God there can be no order anywhere. How long then shall we continue to concern ourselves with our own liberty or our own capacity to suffer trials and tribulations of the present moment? When will God be all in all to us? Let is see things in their true light and rise above them to live purely in God Himself. Read: Genesis 22:1-12 Reflection 1. All we need to know is how to recognize (God's )will in the present moment, says Jean-Pierre. Have you found this to be easy or difficult in your life? What direction does the author give to help us discern God's will in the present moment? 2. In the first section, the author compares spiritual growth sometimes happening when we are unaware of it. How has God worked in your life even though at the time, your were unaware of what was happening? 3. One of the problems Jean-Pierre addresses is the tendency to control our life with God by doing specific exercises at specific times, thus negating the possibility of letting God determine both the what and the when of our spiritual disciplines. Others do nothing because they are unsure what God wants them to do. In which of these directions do you tend to lean? 4. We must offer no resistance and blindly abandon ourselves to is divine will in perfect trust, Jesn-Pierre says. Which do you find more difficult: discerning God's will or doing it? 5. God's will in the present moment for Abraham was not to sacrifice his son but to be willing to sacrifice his son. What might God be asking you to sacrifice? Are you willing? Why or why not? 6. Every moment, writes Jean-Pierre, we should say like Paul, Lord what should I do? Make this your constant prayer this coming week. 7. Look for the grace in all that happens to you this week. No matter what comes your way, turn to God and ask how this activity can become a sacrament of the present moment.

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