One Day at a Time with God…
(from an August 3, 1975 conference)

Today, each today, is a little model of the whole of life, and we should treat it as such.  We should begin each day as if it were the beginning of a new life, which it is.  We should continue it by growing in grace, and we should end it by going to sleep after preparing ourselves for death, putting ourselves in the proper dispositions for going to God.  Each day is a little treasure ground, just as the whole of life is a treasure ground.  There is always something to be dug up, something to be discovered, something to be taken with sparkling eyes to God our Father.

It is sometimes daunting to try to face the whole of life or the whole of the future as far as we can foresee it, but it is within our capacity to face one day.  It is not easy to avoid all sins for long, but we can avoid them for one day.  It is not easy to face distress and pain when they come, but we can face them, too, for one day.

“This is the day the Lord has made,” says the Scripture; “let us be glad and rejoice in it.”  Today is the day the Lord has made.  Never mind any other days.  Each today comes to us fresh from God’s hands.  Each morning brings us an awakening to a new day, to a new little life.  Let us avoid ever becoming stale about it.  It is God’s love that wakes us up afresh each morning and gives us the freedom to make whatever we like of that day.  What are we going to do with it?

The first thing to do is to start each day well.  We should start it off by looking at God with joy and reverence and love, and offer the whole day He holds out for us back to Him, that it may be all His.  The first moment of the day is of very great importance.  It sets the spiritual tone for the whole day.  If we wake up at the time of rising and at once get out of bed and make our first act of the day an act of adoration and thanks and offering to God, we have begun very well, and the chances are that the day will be a good one spiritually.  If we drift away for a while and indulge ourselves a few more minutes of dozing and only get up sleepily at the last moment and without a thought for God, the chances are that we shall have a slovenly day spiritually.  Give that first moment joyfully to God.

Each morning begins a new life for us.  We ought to see it in that light and be determined to keep the freshness and cleanness and brightness of this day’s life free from any blighting.  We are beginning a new life and forget the things that are past.  If yesterday was a bad day, never mind; this is a good day; forget the past.  Begin a new life, a fresh one, a refreshing one.  Begin this day with God.

[Having done that] it should be very easy to keep in God’s presence.  He is always present, but we can turn our attention away from Him, so we need to practice the presence of God throughout the day.  It only takes a second, a flash of recognition for God in our hearts, to put ourself in His presence.  At this moment you are quite capable of looking at God and loving Him, sending Him a short, sharp arrow of love, without even ceasing to listen to what I am saying, and I can recognize and smile at the presence of God without stopping these words to you or becoming insincere or automatic in them.  You see, it is not difficult to stay in God’s presence if you want to.  That is the point:  Do you really want to?  “Where your treasure is there will your heart be.”  If you love God, how can you forget him?  Make a thousand little aspirations of love or adoration or thanks or whatever you feel for God throughout the day.  Do not make it a strain.  If you love God, as soon as you think of Him you will almost automatically send Him a little prayer either spoken or unspoken.

It can become such a habit to stay in God’s presence that one is aware of it all the time.  Some people have the grace to be aware of God’s presence and be in a state of prayer whatever they are doing.  Others find they cannot be aware of God when they are concentrating on other duties that require close attention.  It depends somewhat on the level at which one is in touch with God.  If you find Him deep enough in your heart, you can think about other things without losing His presence at all, but, in any case, it is a good thing to offer to Him any job one is about to do before beginning it and, when it is finished, to thank Him.  There are many ways of getting into the habit of continual prayer.

A sincere morning offering makes the whole day and all its various activities a continual offering to God, but it is a great improvement on that if we can renew our self-offering many times during the day and offer the different duties to God deliberately before we do them.  This intensifies our offering, makes us do things with a purer intention, and keeps up our union with God throughout the day.  If we are to do all things for the glory of God, we ought to keep conscious of our supernatural motives as far as we can.  In this way we avoid doing things just out of routine or out of self-seeking or out of vanity or other unworthy motives.

If we begin the day well and have continued it well, then we shall at its end be ready to finish the day well.  As we begin with morning prayers and morning offering, so we shall end with night prayers, examination of conscience, thanksgiving for the day, and we shall commend ourselves to God for the night.

If we are living in God’s presence, if we are treating each today as a little life on its own, so to speak, God will guide us by His inspirations.  Probably most people expect God’s guidance to come to them during their actual prayer time, but many of us find this is not the way God works with us.  We get very little light during prayer, but we keep it up nonetheless.  Then at unexpected moments during the day, when we are attending to other duties, we get bright ideas, feel urged to do special small good deeds of one kind or another, or suddenly realize the meaning of some words from God that we have heard many times but never really seen clearly.  Some people, similarly, find that they are unable to be nearly as devout and recollected and fervent as they wish to be when they receive Holy Communion, but God desires their effort and not their success, and at some other time during the day, when they are not expecting it, they suddenly feel a great love for God, a desire to pray, and all the feelings they would have liked to have during Holy Communion.  God often lets us struggle at one time and rewards us at another.  He often comes when we least expect Him.

There are voices speaking in us other than the voice of God.  There are the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Sometimes when God suggests that we could be a little less self-indulgent in food or drink or comforts, we harden our hearts a little and pretend we have not heard Him.  Self-denial is an important part of our Christian life, and each today will involve some voluntary effort to refuse the world, the flesh, and the devil.  There may be many things of which we could allow ourselves rather less than we have grown accustomed to.

I have already mentioned the fact that it is quite possible to keep up a good resolution if you limit it to one day and renew it the following day.  The same is true of our venial sins.  We all commit them, but it is possible to keep them away for just a day.  If there is some fault that comes up every time you go to confession, that is the thing to tackle.  When you wake up fresh and new in the morning, as you make your morning offering, pause for a moment and resolve what fault you are going to make a special effort to avoid just for today.  Forget all the times you have failed in that way in the past and start a new life today, from this morning until evening, so that you can hand your life back to God for another night, unstained and faithful.

There are some temptations that are very persistent.  There are some urges that are very difficult to control.  The desire to complain or to criticize or to show our displeasure with someone, for instance; or it may be we are slaves of something stupid like smoking or eating sweets or wasting time in useless entertainments like some television programs.  Well, if we have strong temptations like that and have never really conquered them in the past, never mind.  What we can do is to conquer them just for today; you can hold out until tonight.

Gradually we come to give our day more and more to God without having done anything very heroic or unusual.  We just took things in little doses, one day at a time.  We can all face one day and its difficulties.  There is no need to try to face more than that.

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