Trust in the Present

In a lecture today on the spiritual life, the lecturer said, “The Enemy tries to focus us on what is coming, on imagined fears, in a manner that robs us of the enjoyment of the present moment that God wishes to give us.”

St. Teresa of Avila often warned her religious sisters that the Devil would try to dissuade them from prayer or fasting by inciting in their imaginations countless worries and concerns — especially fear of illness. As God is only able to encounter us and do good for us in the present moment, Teresa argued, if the Enemy ably succeeds in uprooting us from the reception of the present, he succeeds in severing us from the very source of our strength and peace.

Satan’s antiphon is, “There’s plenty of time to pray; later; not yet; too much to do; tomorrow is full of fearful uncertainty; don’t pray, worry.” God’s antiphon, on the other hand, is, “Now is the day of salvation, now is the appointed time; do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself; cast all your cares on God; you need only to be still.”

In this light, we can re-appreciate the power and beauty of St. Teresa’s well-loved prayer:

Let nothing distress you;
While all things fade away,
God is unchanging.
Patience overcomes everything.
The one who has God,
Nothing is lacking.
God alone suffices.

“…as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Is. 66:13)

11 comments on “Trust in the Present

  1. […] St. Teresa of Avila often warned her religious sisters …read more […]

  2. Judy Svendsen says:

    Thanks Tom!! I needed this now. We hope to see you and the family while you’re this way!

  3. WoopieCushion says:

    Love to learn more about the grace of mastering the blend b/n the blog a couple days ago about Cross-life and this PRESENT one.

  4. […] founded on his extensive education which are thusly sound and worth following. He recently wrote “Trust in the Present,” encouraging the Christian to seize the moment to pray and cautioning him against putting it […]

  5. Hi Tom,

    Do you mind pointing me to where in St. Terese’s writings she makes her argument about God in the present moment? Thanks!

    With love,

    • Well, it threads through her writings — in the Interior Castle where she describes the temptations of the 4-6th mansions; In Way of Perfection. But I cannot recall specifically where at the moment. I will keep in mind your question and when I have time will research a bit.

    • Again, I will find the place where she speaks especially about the Devil’s temptation to make us fearful of future illnesses and calamities to distract from present prayer, but there’s a line in the Interior Castle I remembered this a.m. that touches on the point somewhat: the Devil’s temptation to make us not remain content with our present duties, but aspire to other works that are beyond our limits: para. 21 That’s a start! 🙂

      • Thanks, Tom! This is lovely and very helpful! I’ve always been really intimidated by St Teresa’s writings but I need to get over myself and study her more diligently. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement!

        With love,

  6. Hi again!

    I just had to post this alternative translation to the one you provided at the above link. This is from the Interior Castle translated by Mirabai Starr: ”Remember when I told you that the spirit of evil sometimes stimulates us with grandiose desires? This is so that we will avoid putting our attention on the tasks at hand and serving our Beloved in feasible ways. Instead, we content ourselves with having wished for the impossible.”

    With love,

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