Do you know Jean-Pierre de Caussade? If not, let me introduce you! He was a French Jesuit who lived from 1675-1751. His book, called Abandonment to Divine Providence, has become a classic. It’s my top spiritual book of all time (other than the Bible, of course!) because his message applies to everything, all the time.
Now, I love learning (and teaching) how to collaborate with God to become more grateful, forgiving, and patient. But all those virtues really boil down to…abandonment to Divine Providence!
Not trusting in God’s care was Eve’s big problem, and it’s often ours, too. So we get caught up in worry.
Seriously, anytime I catch myself worrying (afraid something will or won’t happen), I know it’s time to check in to see what God thinks I need. A few minutes reading Abandonment to Divine Providence gets me to that trusting place where I can ignore my fears long enough to listen to God.
In fact, the book makes me eager to seek God’s will, which, it turns out, I don’t really have to seek because God’s will is….pretty much what’s actually happening right now.
Like the big hurts — losing a dear friend because of a misunderstanding. Why, God?
Or the little hurts that still sting — like when the dry cleaners fried my new peach linen jacket in their pressing machine. Yes, I was devastated. But when I (eventually) saw the loss in the light of God’s love, it was like He was tapping me on the shoulder to remind me that as much as I loved that that jacket, or even my deep love for my friend, they were nothing compared to what He has in store for me, starting now if I’ll only look to Him for love. And it showed me, too, that I did not love that jacket (or my friend, completely) as a gift from God, but as a reflection of my self-love.
If you’re like me and have a hard time remembering that, Abandonment may become your go-to book, too. Here’s a sample of Fr. de Caussade’s “reality-check:”
“If we understood how to see in each moment some manifestation of the will of God, we should find also all that our hearts could desire. In fact, there could be nothing more reasonable, more perfect, more divine than the will of God.
“Could any change of time, place, or circumstance alter or increase its infinite value? If you possess the secret of discovering it at every moment and in everything, then you possess all that is most precious, and most worthy to be desired. What is it that you desire, you who aim at perfection? Your wishes need have no measure, no limit. However much you may desire, I can show you how to attain it, even though it be infinite. There is never a moment in which I cannot enable you to obtain all that you can desire.
“The present is ever filled with infinite treasure, it contains more than you have capacity to hold. Faith is the measure. Believe, and it will be done to you accordingly. Love also is the measure. The more the heart loves, the more it desires; and the more it desires, so much the more it will it receive. The will of God is at each moment before us like an immense, inexhaustible ocean that no human heart can fathom. But none can receive from it more than he has capacity to contain; it is necessary to enlarge this capacity by faith, confidence, and love.”
When I read these words, my attention shifts from what I expect or want to happen to being grateful for what God is giving me at this moment, which is everything I need for my salvation and the salvation of those I pray for. De Caussade reminds us that there’s nothing more we need than that!
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