Here and Now: Jean-Pierre de Caussade

We come to Jean-Pierre de Caussade about halfway in this series, but he was actually the first person through whom I learned about here-and-now living.  His book, ‘The Sacrament of the Present Moment’ gave me the opportunity to ponder what I now see is a classical concept in both Christianity and other religions as well. [1]. There are numerous insights in the book.  In this post I will only look at two, using the two titles of the book as focal points.

First, the present moment as sacrament.  This is because every moment is sacred; that is, it is a moment where love prevails and grace is given.  We need not look elsewhere. Grace abounds here-and-now.  God comes to us in the present moment to give us what we need. 

Grace comes in many packages: blessings, strengthenings, convictions, warnings, provisions, etc.  Grace comes in a variety of ways because each moment is different.  The present moment is sacred because it is the chronos/kairos intersection where God offers what we need in the moment. Grace is God’s providence.

Second, the response to grace is abandonment to God’s providence.  Like every other religion, Christianity rejects the notion of automatic grace.  Of course we experience grace irrespective of our awareness of it.  But we grow in grace by participation.  De Caussade describes it as fruit ripening through good tending of it.  Abandonment is the union of our will to receive grace with God’s will to give it, and in that union we thrive. 

For de Caussade, joy is the keynote of our union with God–a joy to be found whether or not the moment is easy or difficult, because God (not circumstance) is the joy.  God is the Reality present and active in our realities here and now.

[1]  Jean-Pierre de Caussade, ‘The Sacrament of the Present Moment’ (HarperCollins, 1989). The book is also titled, ‘Abandonment to Divine Providence.’. The book has remained in print under both titles for nearly 300 years.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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