Lent 2022 A Saint a Day for Lent Day 22

Day 22 23rd March Jean Pierre de Caussade

Very little is known about Jean Pierre de Caussade except that he was born in Cahors, France, on the 7th March in 1675, and died in December 1751. He became a Jesuit priest and is particularly known for his work as spiritual director to nuns at Nancy from 1733-1740. During this time, and through later letters, he taught them about what he called, the Sacrament of the Present Moment; and how Christian life is about surrendering ourselves to each moment that comes along, because it is a gift from God. What we know of his teaching comes from the book “Abandonment to the Divine Providence”, a collection of his teachings and letters of direction that he wrote. Although little is known of his life, this book is one of the most important documents on the spiritual life.
“Sanctity can be reduced to one single practice” he writes “living in full acceptance of what God sends in every moment. There is not one moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, some consolation to be enjoyed, or some duty to be performed. The present moment is filled with infinite treasure, more treasure than you have the capacity to hold. The present moment is the entrance into the divine.”
De Caussade writes of the present moment as being a sacrament and encourages us to receive each moment as we would receive holy communion, as food from heaven. He is well aware that some moments in life bring pain and distress, but he encourages us to recognise that God is a part of them and that no matter how difficult the moment may be we do not live it alone but with God. So he encourages us to trust God with the each moment, and in each moment, and look for the treasure there.
What I love about Jean Pierre de Caussade is that for him there is no moment in life that is not a divine moment, a moment of contact with the Presence of God. Very often in life we associate special spiritual moments with the wonder and joys of life. For example we may look across a beautiful view and exclaim “Wow! God is present here!” We may feel a sense of joy in an experience and immediately thank God, because God has blessed us. Jean Pierre teaches us that when things go wrong it does not mean that God is absent or has deserted us, but is intimately present in that situation; as close to us as in those moments of Joy. Every moment in life truly is a holy moment, he calls us to trust God in each one.

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From the writings of Jean-Pierre de Caussade

The present moment is the ambassador of God; the one thing necessary can always be found within it – in all that each moment presents. We can no longer consider our moments as trifles, since in them is the whole kingdom of God and food for angels.
Moment so precious! How insignificant in the eyes of the ignorant, but how great in those enlightened by faith. Great also in the eyes of God, so how can I regard any moment as insignificant?

Every moment is a divine action, be satisfied with it. No longer single out some moments greater than others, but welcome God’s presence in each and every one. All that happens is a channel for grace if we did but know it – just make full use of whatever God sends you or allows.

There is nothing so small, or so apparently indifferent, which God does not ordain or permit, even to a fall of a leaf. Never lose sight of the great and consoling truth that nothing happens in this world but by the divine permission of God. Even that which disturbs all our plans, if we trust God in it, will turn into something better for us. Keep firmly by this great principle and the greatest tempests will not be able to trouble the depth of your soul; even if it may ruffle the surface by disquieting the feelings.

The books the Holy Spirit is writing are living, and every soul a volume in which the divine author makes a true revelation of his word, explaining it to every heart, unfolding it in every moment.

If we could just be attentive and watchful, God would be continually revealed to us, and we would recognise the divine in every experience of life. At each successive occurrence we would exclaim: “It is the Lord!” and accept every fresh circumstance as a gift from God.

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A poem inspired by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

It is the Lord!
They exclaimed
at the sight of the Risen Christ.
Not that they recognised Him
at first glance,
they had to look twice.
He appeared to them in numerous disguises;
a gardener, a traveller, a ghost
that walked through walls
or across waters.
But by faith their eyes
were opened, they saw,
they recognised, they marvelled.
He appeared to them
In numerous guises
and then disappeared –
But has never been too far away
for those with eyes to see.
Look around you at creation,
look deeply into life’s experiences,
in this moments circumstances.
Open your eyes, recognise,
marvel, exclaim:
It is the Lord!