This week Mark Mallett posted “RAISE YOUR SAILS (Preparing for Chastisement),” a post which touched me deeply and thrilled me to my core. He combined three aspects of spirituality: the “strong driving wind” of the Holy Spirit, abandonment to the Divine Will through the duty of the moment, and embracing the Cross, especially as we face the Storm.
Undoubtedly you recognize the first aspect; the “strong driving wind” describes the first Pentecost. But elements struck me forcibly that I never noticed before. Here is the passage: “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” (Acts 2:1-2). The Holy Wind falls on the whole house and fills it entirely. We understand that the Holy Spirit is not actually wind, but acts as a driving wind would act, in power, unable to be resisted, encompassing all in Its path. Yet It could not act upon anyone there unless they had first gathered in one place, abandoning themselves to whatever God willed.
Prompted by the risen Christ, Mary and the apostles were waiting: “And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) What did it mean to be “clothed with power from on high”? What would that look like? What would it feel like? And how would this happen? The apostles were anxious, filled already with “fear of the Jews.” Christ told them, “Stay in the city…” Don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t do anything until…so they waited for the moment that would change everything.
Pentecost changes everything, but only if we are moved by the Holy Wind Himself. Mark Mallett shows us how it is by abandoning ourselves to the moment that we are moved by the Holy Spirit. God’s Will, God’s Power, does not descend on us in its fullness in the totality of a whole lifetime, but is revealed one full moment at a time, in what Father Jean-Pierre deCaussade calls the “duty of the moment.” For it is clearly deCaussade’s spirituality, [Abandonment to Divine Providence] to which Mark is referring here:
“Each moment—and the Divine Will contained in it—are the wind of the Holy Spirit. In order to sail forward toward your goal: union with God—one must always raise the sail of faith mounted upon the mast of one’s will. Don’t be afraid to catch this Wind! Never be afraid where the winds of God’s Will take you or the world. At each and every moment, trust the Holy Spirit who blows where He wills according to My plan….
“Each and every moment the Divine Will of God blows in your life within the present moment. All that is required of you is to simply raise the sails of trust into the Winds of the moment and, turning the rudder of obedience, do that which the moment requires, the duty of the moment. Just as the wind is invisible, so too, hidden within this moment is the power of God to transform, sanctify, and make you holy—yes, hidden behind the mundane, the ordinary, the unglamorous; behind crosses and consolations, the will of God is always there, always working, always active.”
Father deCaussade tell us that holiness is simple: “Embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing source of holiness…God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment by moment… If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.”
Mark says virtually the same thing: “But whether the seas of your life are calm or whether great waves assail you from every side, the response for you is always the same: to keep your sail raised by an act of the will; to stand in the duty of the moment whether it is a gentle breeze or a harsh spray of sea salt passing over your soul. For within this divine action is the grace to transform you.”
Charlie Johnston advises us to “acknowledge God, do the next right thing, and be a beacon of hope.” Isn’t this the same advice—not to be confused, anxious (as the apostles were filled with “fear of the Jews”), but to live the fullness of God’s Will in doing our duty of the moment—“the next right thing”? [https://charliej373.wordpress.com/gods-plan/]
The only way that we can abandon ourselves, to let ourselves be filled with the Holy Wind of God’s power, His Holy Will, is trust. Mark tells us: “What God asks of you is to be docile to this Will, with the trust of a child.”
St. John of the Cross tells us the same thing. He advises us that the soul “must be like to a blind man, leaning upon dark faith, taking it for guide and light, and leaning upon none of the things that he understands, experiences, feels and imagines.” This is total abandonment, thrusting our heart, our mind, our soul, our will into the Holy Wind, trusting that whatever way It blows will be for our good, our transformation, and the transformation of the world.
In his book, Abiding in the Indwelling Trinity, Father George A. Maloney, S.J. gives us the prayer, the attitude, the posture of spirit which we must adopt: “In utter emptiness of heart we wait for the wind, the fire, the living waters to rush upon us and reveal Himself in His love….”
Mark Mallett shares with us an admonition from Christ which we would do well to take to heart, because it applies to all of us—to embrace the Cross, especially as we face the Storm:
“My commandments are My Holy Will for you hidden each day in the present moment. But when My Will is not agreeable to your flesh, you refuse to remain in it. Instead, you begin to look for Me in the more agreeable forms of My presence, rather than remain in My love, in My commandments. You adore Me in one form, but you despise Me in the other. When I walked the earth, many followed Me when I presented Myself in the form which was agreeable to them: as healer, teacher, miracle-maker, and triumphant leader. But when they saw their Messiah in the disguise of poverty, meekness, and gentleness, …when they saw their Messiah presented to them as a sign of contradiction to their lifestyles, …when they saw their Messiah in the distressing disguise of a sacrificial lamb, bloodied, bruised, scourged, and pierced through as the embodiment of a trial and a Cross, they not only refused to remain with Me, but many became angry, mocked and spit upon Me.
“So too, you love Me when My will is agreeable to you, but when My Will appears in the disguise of the Cross, you abandon me….”
For many years now I have referred to the “duty of the moment” as the “sacrament of the moment” because in embracing the moment, whatever it brings, however ordinary or extraordinary, whether consolation or desolation, glory or persecution, is to be in communion with the indwelling Trinity, to embrace the Beloved Will as our daily bread, just as Christ said, “I have food of which you know nothing”—referring to the Father’s Beloved Will. In embracing the moment, we are continually fed by God’s hand; in embracing the moment we are embracing Love Crucified.
Father deCaussade, the French Jesuit who lived 1675 – 1751, tells us: “The love of God comes to us through all creatures but hidden as it is in the Blessed Sacrament. So every moment of our lives can be a kind of communion with his love.” If we can begin to think of each moment as “the sacrament of the moment” we will not waste one precious moment of time. “If we open our mouths they will be filled…. [Our bread] is the ready acceptance of all that comes to us at each moment of our lives.”
How inadequate our language is to truly express the reality of God and His power! All we have are metaphors. As we labor in pain, in darkness, in the fear of our own weakness, we have only trust and abandonment. Let us cast ourselves like the blind man of St. John of the Cross, leaning on faith, trusting the Holy Winds to carry us to Union in the sacrament of the moment each moment of our lives.
[For further reading: