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Living the Now

Encountering the God of love in the present moment

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Deacon Joseph MichalakSo many of the spiritual masters agree: a great aid — and challenge — for holiness is to live in the present moment. Attending to the now puts me in touch with the reality of God and immerses me in the infinity of his love. Now, is my intersection point with eternity. If God dwells within me — is anyone here baptized? — then eternal life has already begun. Or rather, that which Jesus calls the abundant life, life to the full (cf. Jn 10:10), the eternal life welling up within (cf. Jn 4:14; 7:37-38), is present within and to me now. Eternal life is not “a long time after I die.” Eternal life is the fullness of God — love himself — in and present to me now. God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16); he is loving me right now. Now is the moment of encounter with love.

This truth has two profound implications.

First, God is loving me right now regardless of my circumstances. Better yet, God is loving me right now in and through my circumstances. Whether my circumstances consist of the expected or unexpected, whether they are what I planned or are entirely otherwise, whether they are peaceful or replete with pressure, even if they are the result of my own fault or even sin, it is only this moment now that intersects with the eternity of love. I encounter eternity right now, not when circumstances change.

And the fruit of accepting this reality is peace. Peace is the right relation with him, and the right relation is simply receiving love. And that receiving does not depend on “things changing.” Even repentance and receiving mercy are simply receiving love now. Even suffering — and suffering the cross that is me — is the now of love. So deep down I can live untroubled amid trouble. Though the exterior circumstances of life may seem overwhelming, in any given moment of the now, I can do only one thing.

A second implication of now being the encounter with the eternity of love: Both my past and my future are seen in a new light.

My past, present to me now in memory, may have many delights; it may also be the place of my wounding others and being wounded by others. I have delighted in the goodness of life; I have also sinned and been sinned against. But one effect of my deepening awareness of love right now is to begin to see that in the past “nows,” which were then — whether they were tastes of goodness himself or painful, scar-inducing wounding or being wounded — he was loving me in the infinity of his love. Though I may not have realized, then, the love that I experience now, I now begin to realize that, then, the eternal life of love was nonetheless present to me. The good things of the past now become clearer foretastes of eternal love, and the wounding/being wounded of the past now become realizations of healing and forgiving love. The now of eternal love contributes to the healing of memories.

And the future? I experience the future now in my hopes, plans, aspirations, desire for fulfillment, and also in my anxieties, fears, doubts about what will be. The more I realize, now, the now of his love, the more I begin to see the future simply as yet-to-be-nows of that eternal love. Regardless of what the future “nows” may be, they will be the now of love. My present hopes now are purified; my present anxieties now fade away. I now anticipate a future when God will be all in all.

Now is the day of salvation. “How are you loving me right now?”

DEACON JOSEPH MICHALAK is the director of the Institute for Diaconate Formation, the Seminaries of Saint Paul in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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