The Duty of the Moment


THE present moment is that place to which we must bring our mind, to focus our being. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom,” and in the present moment is where we will find it (see The Sacrament of the Present Moment).

In this way, the process of transformation into holiness begins. Jesus said “the truth will set you free,” and thus to live in the past or the future is to live, not in truth, but in an illusion—an illusion which chains us through anxiety. 

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.  Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. (Rom 12:2, Good News)

Let the world live in illusions;  but we are called to become like “little children”, simply abiding in the present moment. For there, too, we will find the will of God.



Within the present moment lies the duty of the moment—that task at hand which our state of life requires at any given time.

Often young people will say to me, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. What’s God’s will for me?” And the answer is simple: do the dishes. Sure, God may intend for you to be the next St. Augustine or Teresa of Avila, but the path to His plans are given one stepping stone at a time. And each of those stones is simply the duty of the moment. Yes, the path to sainthood is marked by dirty dishes and filthy floors. Not the glory you were expecting?

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. (Luke 16:10)

And Psalm 119 says, 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path. (verse 105)

God ‘s will is rarely given to us with headlights. Instead, He passes to us the lantern of the duty of the moment, saying at the same time…. 

My little lambs… do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. For without faith, it is impossible to please him. (Matt 6:34, Luke 18:17, Heb 11:6)

How liberating!  How wonderful that Jesus has given us permission to let go of how tomorrow will turn out, and simply do what we can today. In fact, what we do in the present moment is often in preparation for tomorrow. But we must do it with the realization that tomorrow may never come, and so in this way, think and act with a simplicity of heart and detachment of mind. 



There is no better example of this childlike state, aside from Christ’s example, than that of His mother. 

Think about it… what did she do her whole life? She changed baby Jesus’ diapers, cooked meals, swept floors, and wiped Joseph’s saw-dust off the furniture. And yet we call her the greatest saint in all of Christendom. Why? Certainly, because she was chosen as that blessed vessel of the Incarnation. But also, because she incarnated Christ spiritually, as we are each called to do, in all that she did. Mary’s life was a complete yes to God, but it was one little yes at a time, beginning especially with her fiat:

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Luke 1:37)

And the angel departed from her. And Mary? She got up and finished folding the laundry.



St. Paul tells us to change, to “renew our minds.” That is, we are to begin conforming our thoughts to God’s will, giving our “fiat,” by simply living in the present moment. The duty of the moment is that which unites our mind and body to God’s will.

Thus, we need to read Romans 12 again, but with verse one added to get the big picture. From the New American translation:

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

The duty of the moment is our “spiritual worship.” It is often not very glamorous… just as the Bread and Wine appear ordinary, or Christ’s years of carpentry, or Paul’s tent-making …or the stepping stones which lead to the top of a Mountain.




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