There seems to be a dilemma in the spiritual life. We want to do great things for God, but we are caught up in the little tasks of everyday life. We think holiness must wait until some future time: when the kids are grown up, when the job is less demanding, when we retire, when we can go on retreat. But if, as Vatican II taught, holiness is meant for everyone, shouldn’t it be accessible in every circumstance? How can we become holy now?
Although some saints have been martyrs, missionaries, or miracle workers, others have been parents, kings and queens, businessmen, and even children. How did they become great? Through “abandonment to divine providence” as Fr. Jeanne-Pierre de Caussade called it.
Don’t let the big words confuse you. This is simply the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, who said that even when she picked an object off the floor, she did it out of love for God. Likewise, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “We must do little things with great love.” This practice has also been called “the sacrament of the present moment.”
The Little Way goes beyond mindfulness
The modern practice of mindfulness tries to achieve something similar. Stemming from Buddhism, mindfulness entails living in and being aware of what is happening in the present, even down to small details. While mindfulness can bring a certain measure of peace, it cannot sanctify the present, or the one who practices it. More is needed. We need to recognize and accept God’s will in the present moment.
We lead hectically busy lives. Sometimes I find myself being “too busy” to be open to God’s grace. When my boys interrupt my tasks with questions, requests, or seemingly endless stories, I find it difficult to be patient. I have so much to do! I need to see these interruptions as part of God’s plan for me at that moment. Maybe God has a different agenda than I do. If He allows these interruptions, who am I to get impatient over them? At the very least, I need to respond to my children with love.
Can you accept the ups and downs of your day with peace?
Thus it is with all the events and circumstances of our daily lives. We need to accept them with peace. We need to see the will of God in the conflicts with our co-workers, in the crashing of our computers, in the weather that ruins a family outing, in the phone call that comes at dinner time. We need to keep our equilibrium at every moment, because God is in control of our lives, and He has a loving plan for us. Our goal is to become like St. Paul, who said, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
When we accept our circumstances–not just because they exist, but out of love for God–the present moment becomes holy. Our day is sanctified, and so are we. This is the path to finding holiness now. This is the simple way each of us can become a saint.
Share with us:
How have you implemented the Little Way in your life? How are you striving to sanctify the present?