Ninang had this typed up. She says her source is Lift Up Your Heart by Fulton Sheen…
Sanctifying the Moment
Millions of men and women today lead what has been called “lives of quiet desperation.” They are panicky, worried, neurotic, fearful, and, above all, frustrated souls. And frustration results from failure—either a failure that has already occurred or a failure in prospect.
All our anxieties are related to time. Man is the only time-conscious creature. He alone can bring the past to his mind, so that it weighs on the present moment with its accumulated heritage; and he can also bring the future into the present, so as to imagine its occurrence as happening now. No animal says: “I have suffered this pain for six years and it will last until I die.” But because man can unite the past to the present by memory and the future to the present by imagination, it is often necessary to distract him in his sufferings—to break up with the continuity of misery. All unhappiness (where there is no immediate cause for sorrow) comes from excessive concentration on the past or extreme pre-occupation of the future. And some unhappiness with the past and future has a moral basis.
A conscience, burdened with the guilt of past sins, is fearful of Divine Judgment. But God in His mercy has given us two remedies for such an unhappiness: one is the Sacrament of Penance, which blots out the past by remission of our sins and lightens the future by our hope for Divine Mercy through continued repentances and amendment of our lives. Nothing in human experience is more efficacious in curing the memory and imagination as confession; it cleanses us of guilt, and if we follow the admonition of Our Lord, we shall put completely out of mind our confessed sins.
The second remedy for the ills that come to us from thinking about time is what might be called the sanctification of the moment—or the Now. Our Lord laid down the rule for us in these words: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have anxieties of its own. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt 6:34) This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow, because that day, too, will have its cross. We are to leave the past to Divine Mercy and trust the future and whatever its trials to His Loving Providence. Each minute of life has its peculiar duty—regardless of the appearance that minute may take. The Now-moment is the moment of salvation. Each complaint against it is a defeat; each act of resignation to it is a victory.
The moment is an indication to us of God’s will. The ways of pleasing Him are made known to us in several ways: through His commandments, by the events of His Incarnate Life in Jesus Christ our Lord, in the Voice of the Mystical Body, the Church, in the duties of our state of life. And, in a more particular way, God’s Will is manifested for us in the Now with all its attendant circumstances, duties, and trials.
The present moment includes some things over which we have control, but it also carries with it difficulties we cannot avoid—such things as business failure, a bad cold, rain on picnic days, an unwelcome visitor, a fallen cake, a buzzer that doesn’t work and a boil on the nose the night of the dance. We do not always know why such things as illness and setbacks happen to us, for our minds are too puny to grasp God’s plans. Because God’s ways are not our ways—because the salvation of a soul is more important than all material value—because Divine Wisdom can draw good out of evil—the human mind must develop acceptance of the Now, no matter how hard it may be for us to understand its load of pain.
We do not walk out of a theater because the hero is shot in the first act; we give the dramatist credit for having a plot in his mind. So the soul does not walk out on the first act of God’s drama of salvation—it is the last act that is to crown the play. The things that happen to us are not always susceptible to our minds’ comprehension or wills’ conquering, but they are always within the capacity of our Faith to accept and of our wills’ submission.
One question is never asked by Love, and that is “Why?” That word is used only by the three D’s of Doubt, Deceit and the Devil. The happiness of the Garden of Paradise, founded on trusting love, cracked under the Satanic query: “Why has God commanded you?”
Those who love God do not protest, whatever He may ask of them, nor doubt His Kindness when He sends them difficult hours. A sick man takes medicine without asking the physician to justify its bitter taste, because he trusts the doctor’s knowledge. So the soul which has sufficient faith accepts all the events of life as gifts from God, in the serene assurance that He knows best.
Each moment brings us more treasures than we can gather. The great value of the Now, spiritually viewed, is that it carries a message God has directed personally to us. Books, sermons, and broadcasts on a religious theme are moral and spiritual appeals that carry God’s identical message to all who listen. This is not true of the Now-moment. No one else but I am in exactly these circumstances; no one else has to carry the same burden whether it be sickness, the death of a loved one, or some other adversity. Nothing is more individually tailored to our spiritual needs; for that reason it is an occasion of knowledge which can come to no one else. This moment is my school, my textbook, my lesson.
Not even Our Lord disdained to learn from His specific Now. Being God, He knew all, but there was still one kind of knowledge He could experience as a man. St. Paul describes it: “And He, Son of God though He was, learned obedience from the things He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
Those who sanctify the moment and offer it up in union with God’s Will never become frustrated—never grumble or complain. They overcome all obstacles by making these occasions of prayer and channels of merit. What are constrictions are thus made opportunities for growth.
The swaddling clothes of an Infant hid the Son of God in Bethlehem and the appearance of bread and wine hides the Reality of Christ dying again on Calvary, in the Mass. This concealment of Himself that God effects with us is operative in His use of the Now to hide His Will beneath the aspect of very simple, everyday things. We live our lives in dependence on such casual benefits as air and water; so Our Lord is pleased to receive from us in return, the thousands of unimportant actions and the trifling details that make up our lives—provided that, we see, even in our sorrows, “The shade of His Hand outstretched caressingly.”
Here is the whole secret of sanctity. The method is available to everyone and deserves particular notice from those who ask: “What can I do?” For many good souls are hungry to do great things for God. They complain they have no opportunities for heroic virtues, no chance at the apostolate. They would be martyrs, but when a meal is late, or the bus is crowded, when the theater is filled, or the dance postponed, or the bacon overdone—they are upset for a whole day. They miss their opportunities for loving God in the little things He asks of them. Our Lord said: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much.” (Luke 16:10) The Divine Beloved speaks to the soul in a whisper, but because the soul is waiting for a trumpet, it loses His command.
To accept the crosses of our state of life, because they come from an all-loving God is to have taken the most important step in the reformation of the world; namely, the reformation of self. Sanctity can be built out of the incessant grumbling of a husband; the almost intolerable nagging of a wife; the boss’s habit of smoking a pipe while he dictates; the noise the children make with their soup; the unexpected illness; the inability to get rich. All these can become occasions of merit and be made into prayers if they are bourne patiently for One Who bears so patiently with us, despite our shortcomings, our failures and our sins.
It is not hard to put up with others’ foibles when we realize how much God has to put up with from us. There is a legend that Abraham was visited in the desert by an Arab, who set up loud complaints of the food, lodging, the bed and the wine which his generous host had offered him. Finally, Abraham became exasperated and was about to put him out. God appeared to Abraham at that moment and said: “Abraham, I have stood this man for fifty years, can’t you put up with him for one day?”
This habit of embracing the Now and glorifying God through its demands is an act of the loving will. When St. Paul was converted he asked merely: “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” The good and the bad thief on the cross had the same crisis of fear and suffering—one of them complained and lost his chance for Heaven that day. The other spiritualized the brief moment of suffering. Some souls win peace and sanctity from the same trials which make others rebels and nervous wrecks.
God cannot seize our wills or force us to use our trials advantageously, but neither can the Devil. We are absolute dictators in deciding whether we wish to offer our will to God. And if we turn it over to Him without reservation, He will do great things in us.
The phrase that sanctifies any moment is, “Thy Will be done.” It was the fiat of our Saviour in Gethsemane which initiated our Redemption. It was the fiat of Our Lady which opened the way to the Incarnation. To say and mean, “Thy Will be done,” is to put an end to all complaining; for whatever the moment brings to us now, bears the imprint of Divine Will.
Motive is what makes the saint. Sanctification does not depend on geography, nor on our work or circumstances. Some people imagine that if they were in another place, or married to a different spouse, or had a different job, or had more money, they could do God’s work so much better. The truth is that it makes no difference where they are. It all depends on whether they are doing God’s Will and done for love of Him.
We would like to make our own crosses, but since Our Lord did not make His own, neither do we make ours. We can take whatever He gives us, and we can make the supernatural best of it. The typist at her desk working on routine letters, the street cleaner with his broom, the farmer tilling the field with his carabaos, the doctor bending over a patient, the lawyer trying his case, the student with his books, the sick in their isolation and pain, the teacher drilling her pupils, the mother dressing the children—every such task, every such duty can be ennobled and spiritualized if it is done in God’s name.
The world changes only when we change. Life becomes better for everyone when we ourselves are living well. The presence of God for everyone depends on the presence of ‘God in us’—by sanctifying the moment!