Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grace in the Present Moment

In his book, Providence, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange says the following (my emphases):

22. The Grace Of The Present Moment And Fidelity In Little Things

We were saying that the duty we must accomplish with every succeeding hour is the expression of God's will for each one of us individually hic et nunc and thus conveys a certain practical instruction very valuable for sanctification. It is the Gospel teaching as applied to the various circumstances of our lives, a real object-lesson imparted by almighty God Himself.

If we could only look on each moment from this point of view, as the saints did, we should see that to each moment there is attached not only a duty to be performed, but also a grace to be faithful in accomplishing that duty.

The spiritual riches contained in the present moment

As fresh circumstances arise, with their attendant obligations, fresh actual graces are offered us in order that we may derive the greatest spiritual profit from-them. Above the succession of external events that go to make up our life, there runs a parallel series of actual graces offered for our acceptance, just as the air comes in successive waves to enter our lungs and so make breathing possible.

This succession of actual graces which we either agree to make use of for our spiritual benefit, or, on the other hand, neglect to do so, constitutes the history of each individual soul as it is written down in the book of life, in God, to be laid open some day for our inspection. It is thus that our Lord continues to live in His mystical body, and especially in His saints, in whom He continues a life that will know no end, a life that at every moment requires new graces and new activities.

He also quotes these paragraphs from Jean Pierre de Caussade (Abandonment to Divine Providence;  my emphases):

The present moment is ever filled with infinite treasures; it contains more than you have capacity to hold. Faith is the measure. Believe, and it will be done to you accordingly. Love also is the measure. The more the heart loves, the more it desires; and the more it desires, so much the more will it receive. The will of God presents itself to us at each moment as an immense ocean that no human heart can fathom; but what the heart can receive from this ocean is equal to the measure of our faith, confidence and love. The whole creation cannot fill the human heart, for the heart's capacity surpasses all that is not God. The mountains that are terrifying to look at, are but atoms for the heart. The divine will is an abyss of which the present moment is the entrance. Plunge into this abyss and you will always find it infinitely more vast than your desires. Do not flatter anyone, nor worship your own illusions; they can neither give you anything nor take anything from you. You will receive your fullness from the will of God alone, which will not leave you empty. Adore it, put it first, before all other things.... Destroy the idols of the senses.... When the senses are terrified, or famished, despoiled, crushed, then it is that faith is nourished, enriched, and enlivened. Faith laughs at these calamities as the governor of an impregnable fortress laughs at the futile attacks of an impotent foe. 

When the will of God is made known to a soul, and has made the soul realize His willingness to give Himself to it—provided that the soul, too, gives itself to God—then under all circumstances the soul experiences a great happiness in this coming of God, and enjoys it the more, the more it has learnt to abandon itself at every moment to His most adorable will.

… As the present minute is passing, let us likewise bear in mind that what exists is not merely our body with its sensibility, its varying emotions of pain and pleasure; but also our spiritual and immortal soul, and the actual grace we receive, and Christ who exerts His influence upon us, and the Blessed Trinity dwelling within us. We shall then have some idea of the infinite riches contained in the present moment and the connection it has with the unchanging instant of eternity into which we are some day to enter…

This astounds me. How would it be to be able always to remember that the present moment is so intimately connected with eternity! How would it be to receive that grace rather than resist it! De Caussade continues:

…Whatever happens, let us say to ourselves: At this moment God is present and desires to draw me to Himself…

Let us in all reverses give heed to the actual graces offered us with each passing minute for the fulfilment of present duty. We shall thus realize more and more how great must be our fidelity in little things as well as in great.

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