Week-ends don’t happen in monasteries. We tend to be busier than ever, with more liturgy, more guests, more cooking and cleaning, more everything, in fact. It is always at such times that ‘the last straw’ occurs. You know the scenario. You have ringmarked some time to do such and such, which is really urgent, and at that point the boiler breaks down, Great Uncle Richard turns up, or you discover you have only a few hours left in which to submit your tax return/file your company accounts/extend your visa (delete as appropriate). It can be difficult to remain cool and cucumbery under such circumstances. Personally, I don’t even try. I find a quick squawk (to relieve my feelings), a fervent plea for help to the Most High and getting ‘stuck in’ is the only way to cope.
De Caussade dignified these situations with reference to the sacrament of the present moment, but it can be hard to recognize them as such when one is in the midst of them. That is why what we do at other, less pressured, times is so important. We have to work at cultivating a more receptive attitude. It isn’t difficult to see God in a beautiful sunset or a long, leisurely day doing something we enjoy. But to see God in the unpleasant tasks, the unexpected events that turn our world upside down or, at the very least, upset our plans, that requires something more. It requires us to be attentive to God at all times, to be listening for his voice in every situation; and as today’s reading from the Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict reminds us, that means life in all its fullness — and isn’t it that the real business of our lives on earth?