The President's Pen: Abandonment

Abandonment Unfinished Artwork by Michaelangelo


Jean-Pierre De Caussade was a Jesuit priest who lived in France in the early 1700’s. Not much is known of him except that he was a teacher of theology at a number of schools and colleges. His book, “Abandonment To Divine Providence”, is a collection of letters that have been preserved for posterity and have established him as one of the ten most significant spiritual guides of the last few centuries.

One of his recurring themes has to do with what he calls “the sacrament of the moment.” He states, “If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment.” God gives us each moment to live out His will on earth. Each moment is a gift of time to find fulfillment and purpose as we serve the One who knows us and loves us. His book is profound and inspiring.

Later on in the book he makes this observation, “It is true that a canvas simply and blindly offered to the brush feels at each moment only the stroke of the brush. It is the same with a lump of stone. Each blow from the hammering of the sculptor’s chisel makes it feel – if it could – as if it were being destroyed. As blow after blow descends, the stone knows nothing of how the sculptor is shaping it. All it feels is a chisel chopping away at it, cutting it and mutilating it. For example, let’s take a piece of stone destined to be carved into a statue. We might ask it, ‘What do you think is happening to you?’ And it might answer, ‘Don’t ask me. All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hands of the sculptor, and I must love him and endure all he inflicts on me to produce the figure he has in mind. He knows how to do it. As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me. But what I do know is that his work is the best possible. It is perfect. I welcome each blow of his chisel as the best thing that could happen to me, although, to be truthful, I feel that every one of these blows is ruining me, destroying me, disfiguring me. But I remain unconcerned. I concentrate on the present moment, think only of my duty, and suffer all that this master sculptor inflicts on me without knowing his purpose or fretting about it.’”

I am not there yet. Being shaped to His purpose is something I still resist. I’m growing, but the chisel seems to bite too deep at times. De Caussade seems to know my heart when he writes elsewhere, “I have visited all your studios and admired all your creations, but I have not yet become abandoned enough to accept the strokes of your brush.”

By Ash Harris | May 17th, 2015 | Categories: The President's Pen