The Grace of the Present Moment

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire. I desire to use you as best I can.” — Diary, 2

God is in every moment. Each moment holds duty and grace. You might be familiar with the old adage: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift — that’s why it is called present.” Saint Padre Pio said, “Lord, I leave the past in Your mercy, the future in Your providential care, and the present moment in Your Love.” The present moment is the only moment of grace. This week’s spiritual exercise delves into the grace of the present moment. Let’s take a look at and learn from how Sr. Faustina lived in the present moment.

Many people lament about yesterday or worry about tomorrow. The spiritual life, however, can only be lived in the present — the here and now of our lives. Yes, we do set goals for the future, and we review the past. Perhaps we might feel sorrowful due to our sins or goals we haven’t achieved. It’s normal and natural to have those feelings, but we shouldn’t obsess over them. We can’t keep running back to re-live the past. Likewise, we can’t constantly be fearful about what lies ahead; we must give those fears to God. We move forward towards Heaven, but always by planting ourselves right within our present moment of life — right where we can receive grace and grow in holiness. We need to try to experience each moment as a sacramental moment, full of grace. No matter whether it is a joyful or a painful experience, there is always grace in the present moment.

The French Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) preached about the importance of every moment of our lives. He wrote, “God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment by moment ... The events of each moment are stamped with the will of God ... we find all that is necessary in the present moment.” He takes it further: “If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.” Author Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, also pointed out the importance of our present moments. The great Dominican theologian quotes Fr. de Caussade approvingly in his classic work, Providence:

The present moment is ever filled with in finite treasures; it contains more than you have capacity to hold. 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. 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.

Sister Faustina Lived in the Present Moment

Sister Faustina tried her best to always live in the present moment through obedience, both to her parents when she was a young girl, and to the rules of her order and her superiors when she became a sister. She was keenly attentive to God’s holy will and desired to please Jesus by doing everything He asked. There were times, though, when Helen, feeling perplexed or incapable of the task laid out before her, tried to tune out God’s call to her heart. For instance, when Helen was a teenager, she gave up trying to enter religious life after her parents refused permission. Then, as we know, Jesus appeared one evening to her at a dance and asked her straight out, “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?” (Diary, 9). As we discussed earlier, Helen left the dance, rushed off to church, and by the next morning was on a train to find a convent. Later, when she was a sister and wasn’t receiving support from her superiors, Sr. Faustina once again tried to tune out the inspirations from Jesus. However, Jesus always granted the graces that Sr. Faustina needed to follow God’s holy will, just as He does for each one of us. Our Lord told us, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Lk 16:10).

Sister Faustina fostered in her soul a spirit of humility and abandonment to God’s desires. She learned to trust God more and more, and submitted her will to His holy will. That is how our Lord was able to use her so freely to accomplish the great mission He had for her in spreading the devotion to Divine Mercy. He needed her humble heart. He needed her to be faithful in small things — in all the details of her vocation. In the Parable of the Talents, to each of the faithful servants, Jesus said, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21).

Sister Faustina expressed her gratitude, and she moved her will in faith to be united to God’s will. She wrote in her Diary,

O My God

When I look into the future, I am frightened,

But why plunge into the future?

Only the present moment is precious to me,

As the future may never enter my soul at all.

It is no longer in my power,

To change, correct, or add to the past;

For neither sages nor prophets could do that.

And so, what the past has embraced, I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me,

whole and entire. I desire to use you as best I can.

And although I am weak and small, You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.

And so, trusting in Your mercy, I walk through life like a little child,

Offering You each day this heart

Burning with love for your greater glory (Diary, 2).

Another time, she recalled, “O Jesus, I want to live in the present moment, to live as if this were the last day of my life. I want to use every moment scrupulously for the greater glory of God, to use every circumstance for the benefit of my soul. I want to look upon everything, from the point of view that nothing happens without the will of God” (Diary, 1183). Do we feel the same way?

Beyond the Vision at Plock

After Sr. Faustina received the vision of Jesus showing her the Divine Mercy Image, she struggled. She went back and forth in her mind about carrying out the mission entrusted to her by Jesus. Was it an illusion? Neither her superiors nor the priests were supportive or reassuring. On top of that, many sisters were talking about her behind her back, thinking she was a hysteric or delusional. Sister Faustina did not yet have a permanent spiritual director. Confessors and superiors sent her back and forth between them, which caused more confusion. It was sometimes quite difficult for this young nun, but she was determined to live sanctity in each present moment of life in obedience to her vocation. Even though she could not see how the answers to her questions would unfold in the future, she needed to plant her heels in the present moment and trust God.

Something to Ponder

God created us to share His divine life with us. He is present in every single moment of our lives. Many times, it is difficult to see God in each and every moment of our lives. But He wants us to pray hard, work hard, and trust Him. Can we do that? Take time throughout this week to examine your life and your trust in God. Can you release a problem from your grip? Can you offer it to God with loving prayer?

Merciful Action

Is there someone in your family or neighborhood who might feel overwhelmed with stress or uncertainty? Can you pray about how you might help them? Try to be attentive to the needs of those around you as they unfold in each moment. Also, keep the souls in Purgatory in your prayers for they need them. Try your best to carry out your meaningful Works of Mercy this week.

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, please help me with my dif culties and uncertainties. Help me to stay focused on the present moment of my life and to help others to do the same. Thank You for Your great love for me! Mother Mary, thank you! Saint Faustina, please pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You! Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels.

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