A slim volume written hundreds of years ago inspires a renewed devotion to living prayerfully and in the moment.
Posted in , Sep 12, 2018
Every once in a while a book on my bookshelf will seem to scream for some attention. “Hey Rick, here I am. Read me! Read me now! I’m going to give you an important lesson on prayer.” Such was the case with Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade.
What? You’ve never heard of such a volume? No surprise. I hadn’t either. But someone must have given me this copy, and I shelved it and there it sat. For years.
De Caussade was a Jesuit who lived in France 300 years ago. Born in 1675, he died in 1751, and nobody would have heard any more of him. Except for a series of letters as a spiritual advisor.
Fortunately many of the letters were saved and over a hundred years after his death someone gathered the letters and put them in a slim volume. And then more letters were gathered and included. The result: Abandonment to Divine Providence.
De Caussade’s advice is so simple and so valuable. Instead of constantly beseeching God with all our requests, he says, the most valuable prayer we can make is one of abandonment. Giving ourselves over to God’s will, accepting it. Letting go of our own selfish desires.
What God has in mind for us can be so much greater than what we think we can do or should do or want to do.
“The designs of God and his will give life to the soul in whatever guise they appear,” de Caussade writes, “nourishing and developing it by giving it what is best for it. This happy state is not brought about by any special happening, but by what God has willed for each moment.”
How to live in the moment? Simply by relinquishing all our greatest secret plans and going for a greater plan. Moment by moment by moment.
“If we carefully fulfill the duties imposed on us by our state of life, if we quietly follow any impulse coming from God, if we peacefully submit to the influence of grace, we are making an act of total abandonment,” he writes.
De Caussade’s little book has been a Godsend for me in past few weeks. I suspect all of us have books on our shelves that we haven’t looked at for years or maybe never finished. Watch out. Listen carefully. One of them might be calling to you!