Jean-Pierre de Caussade is one of Christianity’s most enduring mystics. Little is known about the man himself – hisquirks or foibles or even what he looked like – but his spiritual legacy in The Sacrament of the Present Moment reveals a giant of the faith. Hundreds of years after his life as a priest, Caussade’s Spirit-filled teachings and revelation continues to draw believers to the love of his life, Jesus Christ.
Hearing God in the Present Moment
God still speaks today as he spoke to our forefathers in days gone by, before there were either spiritual directors or methods of direction. The spiritual life was then a matter of immediate communication with God. It had not been reduced to a fine art nor was lofty and detailed guidance to it provided with a wealth of rules, instructions and maxims. These may very well be necessary today. But it was not so in those early days, when people were more direct and unsophisticated. All they knew was that each moment brought its appointed task, faithfully to be accomplished. This was enough for the spiritually-minded of those days. All their attention was focused on the present, minute by minute; like the hand of a clock that marks the minutes of each hour covering the distance along which it has to travel. Constantly prompted by divine impulsion, they found themselves imperceptibly turned towards the next task that God had ready for them at each hour of the day.
Such were the hidden motives behind all Mary’s behaviour — lowliest and most obedient of creatures. Her reply to the angel, when she was content to say ‘Be it unto me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38), summed up the whole mystical teaching of her ancestors. Everything was reduced, as it is now, to the purest and simplest commitment to the will of God in whatever form it might present itself. That exalted and beautiful disposition which was the essence of Mary’s soul shines out wonderfully in those simple words. How perfectly it accords with what our saviour wishes us to have unceasingly on our lips and in our hearts — ‘Thy will be done.’
For today’s believer, racing from one task to another, desperate to beat the clock, is quite common. Rarely do we acknowledge the present moment, let alone seek God in it. Our minds stretch towards tomorrow or fret about yesterday, and the present is lost somewhere in between. The Sacrament of the Present Moment is a potent reminder of the spiritual riches we bypass in our rush from morning to night, day after day. It is impossible to read this book – or rather, to let the Holy Spirit read it to us – without being pierced by the beauty and wonder we squander when we fail to live in the present moment.