Grace is in the Details
Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) was an ordained member of the Society of Jesus in Toulouse, France. He traveled widely as a preacher and in 1731 became the spiritual director of a Jesuit retreat house. Many of his letters to the nuns under his care were collected into the devotional classic Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence (translated by Kitty Muggeridge as The Sacrament of the Present Moment).
There is a tendency today to think of the great Devotional Masters almost as people from another planet, certainly as folk unconcerned with life in our hectic workaday world. And yet so often I have discovered just the opposite: these were people who sought to redeem and "hallow" the common ventures of life. Jean-Pierre de Caussade was one such person and his book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, has changed forever the way I look at "ordinary" life.
My first encounter with The Sacrament of the Present Moment occurred aboard one of modern technology's finest inventions for solitude—the airplane. The journey was long, but the inward journey I entered into that day was far greater. Caussade was urging me to experience each moment—this very moment—as a holy sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace. I felt a gracious invitation to cease my frantic striving for holiness and rest in the Light of Christ. That airplane trip became a hallowed time, a holy day, a sacramental moment.
This wonderful experience was followed by many more. Because of my readings in Caussade, these persistent questions had begun to intrude upon the ordinary events of my day. "In what sense can this experience be a divine sacrament?" "How is Christ mediated to me through this task?" "How can the fulfillment of this present duty be ...