Pope Francis warned against the double temptation of living in the past or in the future, telling seminarians Monday the present is all we have.

“God is calling us in the present, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but this very day, with its difficulties, sufferings and disappointments – and also our sins,” the pontiff told faculty and students of the Pontifical Filipino College in Rome.

The present is “the only time we now possess and are called to use for a journey of conversion and growth in holiness,” the pontiff declared.

Dwelling in the past can turn into “self-absorbed introspection,” Francis asserted, but living in the future presents dangers of its own.

It is easy to escape from present difficulties by dreaming of a better future, he said, which readily transforms into “a sinful and immature flight to the future in order to escape from the present.”

“The real future is anchored in the present and in the past,” he said, and thus “we need to look both forward and backward.”

“Do not wander around in the labyrinth of your complaints and dissatisfactions,” he advised. “That is the start of a very nasty disease, a bitterness of soul.”

By living in the future we risk becoming “eternal procrastinators, always putting off to hopefully better times and places – a utopia in the bad sense – that postpones the chance to do some good in the here and now,” he said.

“Do not live in constant ‘apnea,’ simply tolerating the present and waiting for it to pass,” he said, because this is a “tomorrow that never comes.”

“Looking to the future in a positive sense means having a prophetic gaze,” he added, “the gaze of a disciple who, in fidelity to the Master and the task set before him, can look ahead, seeing possibilities and working in accordance with his own vocation to make them happen, acting as a docile instrument in God’s hands.”

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