The Present Moment
Dr Christine Wood, Director of the Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis
The 18th century French Jesuit, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, coined the phrase, “the sacrament of the present moment,” to highlight the fact that God’s action is present in every moment of our lives. Holiness is found in the present moment, in turning towards the Lord who loves us, receiving his love, and responding to him with a reciprocal gift.
We must live in the present for the past is past, and the future does not yet exist. This present moment is nothing other than a most precious gift from God to us. There’s no need for anxiety over the future, for it may never come. As for the past, we must repent of what keeps us from the Lord today.
The classic definition of a sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. The Church has declared there are seven sacraments. So what does Caussade mean in speaking of the sacrament of the present moment? Besides moving beyond the customary meaning of the word, he was helping us become aware of the effects of the seven sacraments in everyday life. The transformative power of Christ’s action in the sacraments is meant to permeate every moment of our daily lives.
The graces of our Baptism and Confirmation continue to flow through our daily lives as long as we remain in friendship with God. We must lean into these graces and draw fruit from them now. If we go into lockdown tomorrow, we won’t be able to approach the altar of sacrifice at Mass, but we will not be deprived of sacramental graces. Our baptismal graces enable us to live in the presence of God through prayer. Confirmation strengthens us to triumph through the daily struggles of dull, monotonous work, family woes, loss of employment, or encounters with illness and bereavement.
Married couples are able to draw daily from the graces of their matrimonial bond. This bond delivers the means necessary for spouses to remain faithful to one another, to continue to see each other as a gift, and to die to themselves for the love of each other and Christ. The grace of the sacrament of matrimony enables spouses to forgive each other when they speak a harsh word or neglect one another in so many different ways.
Daily prayer is central and abandonment to divine providence is imperative to healthy Christian living. Our heavenly Father provides for all our needs in the present moment, so we mustn’t be anxious about the future. Our daily family prayer is an expression of our sacramental lives and activates the graces of the sacraments already received. If we’re not praying daily, are we living a fully Christian life?
Main image: RODNAE productions from Pexels.