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This Sacred Moment

by Albert Haase, OFM
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010
132 pages
Reviewed by Teresa Di Biase

“The call of God is like a knock on the door of the present moment in which we find ourselves” (35), affirms Albert Haase, OFM, in his accessible guide to “ordinary” holiness. Using many examples from his ministry as a priest, retreat leader, and spiritual director, Haase argues that holiness is not reserved for the heroic or the canonized saints but is something to which all Christians are invited. The essence of holiness consists in a “selfless openness and response to God’s call,” moment by sacred moment.

Spiritual directors know that God’s call is usually mundane rather than dramatic. In one of his many vivid vignettes, Haase describes how for many years he believed God’s will for his life had been established at his conception and that it was up to him to “pick God’s brain” in order to discover what that will might be. Later, the author came to see that his true call is that of every Christian—to be a coworker with Christ in the reconciliation of all creation. Freed from the need to play a kind of divine guessing game, Haase realized that his daily decisions and actions form the warp and woof of a holy life. What matters is nothing less than to respond to human need with the kind of self-emptying that Jesus displayed in his life and death.

Because the Divine is not inscrutable but is manifest in and through ordinary human experience, Haase commends several principles of ongoing discernment as well as time-honored practices that help foster openness to God’s promptings. The value of this section, covering four of the fourteen short chapters in This Sacred Moment, is not in its novelty but in its clarity and succinctness, making it a useful introduction to Christian discernment. Haase outlines three principles of ongoing discernment: “the duties and responsibilities of my present state in life are the basic building blocks for the kingdom of God, holiness is oriented toward a healthy lifestyle, and commitment to a church community is required” (116). In a work that repeatedly emphasizes the perils of an ego-driven life, I would welcome further elaboration of what it means to “pay attention to important issues of emotional health and psychological stability” (53), along with some discussion of the dynamics of gender in discerning what it means to live “selflessly” in our society.

Haase describes the basic practices of ongoing discernment as “daily, consistent prayer; spiritual direction; and loving acceptance and trustful surrender to whatever happens at each moment” (116). Lectio divina and the Ignatian practices of imaginative prayer and the examen are presented in a concise, step-by-step manner. Reflection questions follow each chapter, and the book concludes with a helpful summary of the major points.

Readers familiar with Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence will recognize echoes of that spiritual classic in This Sacred Moment. Haase has written an engaging book that is both reassuring and challenging for contemporary Christians desiring to become “holy right where you are.”

Teresa Di Biase is a spiritual director, Benedictine oblate, and university librarian. She teaches spiritual practices in parish and retreat sessions and cofacilitates an ecumenical spiritual formation group in Seattle, Washington, USA.


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