“Blessed are those who live in the present moment, for they shall see God in all things.”
If I had been around when the Beatitudes were being written, I would have asked for this one to be included. For me, living in the present moment is just as important a virtue as meekness, peacemaking, being merciful, and all the other virtues listed in Matthew 5:3–12. It’s also just as difficult!
We live in a complicated, fast-paced world that pulls us in lots of directions. The job I had for 30 years before I retired required me to multitask. I had two computers with two monitors on my desk. I also had several programs to monitor during the day and had to coordinate several co-workers’ calendars. Looking back, I’m surprised I was able to carry on a decent conversation with my husband when I got home each night. I got to the point where I was quite good at multitasking. I succeeded in accomplishing all that was expected of me on the job. But many times at night, when I did the Examen, I could not recall the times when God was in my day. I was so spread out in various directions that I had neglected to be in the moments of the day with God. The real eye-opener for me happened one Sunday at Mass, when I completely missed the Consecration, because my mind had wandered off to what I’d be cooking for dinner that night.
St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation states, “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.” (Contemporary version by David Fleming, SJ) If we live our lives consciously aware that God is with us, giving us life and awaiting our response, how can we not live in the present moment? How can we not turn down the volume, unplug from the busyness, and be attentive to God? When I realized that every moment is a gift from God, given to me out of complete generosity, it was easier for me to pray for the desire to be more aware of each moment. We meet God in the present. It is in the present that we can receive the infinite graces and possibilities offered to us. It is in the present that we can connect with God’s creation.
Another foundational point of Ignatian spirituality is that God is indeed present to us always and in all ways. Our God is constantly communicating with us; we just need to listen. God says to us, “I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) God is here with us now in the present, not hiding in the background of our day.
So unplug from the background noise of the day, and live in the quality time of the present moment. Realize what continual distractions present themselves, and pray for the grace to be attentive to God here and now. Do it today; there’s no time like the present!