Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making Ordinary Lovely a Way of Life

Well, this blog is called Ordinary Lovely, so it was kind of inevitable that after reading the homily "Passionately Loving the World," (almost entirely about encountering our Lord in our ordinary life and sanctifying our everyday work) given by St. Josemaria Escriva in 1967, that I should write about this...

Occasionally I fall into a lamentable state of self-pity and what-is-this-all-for and shouldn't-I-be-doing-less-laundry-and-more-meaningful-things.  When this starts to happen, I have to shut. it. down. fast.  Time to regroup, refocus, and read what I myself wrote in my first ever blog post , or even better - anything by St. Josemaria.  Because Josemaria speaks to me (and you) and says, your "everyday life is the true setting for your lives as Christians," and "the holiness that our Lord demands of you is to be achieved by carrying out with love of God your work and your daily duties, and these will almost always consist of small realities."

Small realities.  That about sums it up.  My life is plain. old. ordinary.  Grace makes it worthwhile, meaningful, fulfilling, and lovely.  I want to immerse myself in that Grace - to act within it when I go about my day, to call on it when I struggle and fail, and to rest and refresh myself in it when I grow weary and doubtful.  "Rise up!  Apply yourself with renewed purpose to these "small realities" of your daily life because they are your path to holiness, your means of salvation, the opportunities you've been given to serve and bring glory to God."

As a reminder to myself, and perhaps as encouragement to others, I've written here some of the things that stood out to be in "Passionately Loving the World" (in italics) by St. Josemaria Escriva.  I have also added some of my own personal reflections that occurred to me while reading.

"Don't doubt it, my children: any attempt to escape from the noble reality of daily life is, for you men and women of the world, something opposed to the will of God."
I tend not to view my daily life as very noble.  What if I did?  What if I conducted myself with an air of nobility, with the true bearing of an heir to the kingdom of Heaven?   I would scowl less at the dust on the steps, I would not sweep it up grudgingly, but would do so willingly, thoughtfully, cheerfully, knowing that it is a step  (albeit small) towards emulating heaven-like order and decency in my home. I think it's possibly God's will for me to prepare the hearts of my family for Heaven through catechises as well as through a lovely home and a home full of love.
Do I attempt to escape from the responsibilities of daily life?  Or do I fulfill my responsibilities grudgingly, muttering under my breath that I seem to be the only one around here that scrapes the dried pancake batter off the counter, even though I don't even make pancakes?  Do I mentally attack, criticize, or blame the others that I live with for the work that I am primarily responsible for?  Sadly, yes.  To all of these.  Do I view my ordinary life and daily responsibilities as a privilege granted to one who is truly favored by the King?  Hardly.
Heavenly Father, Give me the grace to identify the nobility of my work.  Make me an instrument of your goodness and glory as I carry out the work that you've willed for me.  Grant me the strength to resist the temptation of seeing the drudgery.  Amen.  

"...God is calling you to serve him in and from the ordinary..."
"...either we learn from our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.  That is why I tell you that our age needs to give back... to the apparently trivial events of life their noble, original meaning.  It needs to place them at the service of the Kingdom of God; it needs to spiritualize them, turning them into a means and an occasion for a continuous meeting with with Jesus Christ."
A large part of motherhood (for me at least) is chores.  I'm sure this list sounds familiar to you:  laundry , dishes, wiping drippy noses, changing out of a shirt that was used for wiping drippy noses, sweeping,  (Swiffering on a good day), changing diapers, bathing kids, flushing scary spiders, making meals, grocery shopping, calendar keeping, menu planning, wardrobe planning, garden planning, lesson planning.  It is admirable of me to go about my chores with an attitude of loving service toward my family, but it is sanctifying to complete my work with the confidence that I serve our Lord through my service to those he has given over to my care.  "Whatever you do for the least of these... you do for me" (Mat. 25:40).  St. Frances of Rome (14th century) wrote, "A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find him in her household care."  Yep - cleaning out the dryer lint screen, scraping oatmeal off the wall, wiping the drippy noses and flushing the spiders and all.
"Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."
Lord, Soften my heart to receive the love that you pour out for me.  Transform my heart so that I may love you more fervently.  Open my heart so that this abundance of love will run out into the care of my home and family.  Thank you for the little bodies and souls you've given me that benefit from that care.  Thank you for the opportunity to know you and serve you through household work.  Open my eyes and understanding to the areas of home and family life where I neglect to give you due attention.  Amen.  St. Frances of Rome, pray for us.  

"It should lead you to do your work perfectly, to love God and your fellowmen by putting love in the little things of everyday life, and discovering that divine something which is hidden in small details."  
Loving my fellowmen by putting love in the little things?  For me, this is the "bless, not impress" mantra I so often come back to when planning for guests in my home.  Cleaning my stove-top, scrubbing out the sink, wiping down the bathroom - not stuff I do to win admiration or blue ribbons for housekeeping.  But I do them because I often consider things like, "will my friend feel comfortable using the bathroom in its current condition?"  or "will a dinner guest take one look at the stove-top and wonder if any of those crumbs mingled with her meal?" The extra things that I can do for house guests will hopefully convey to them love, care, concern, and attention... best case scenario - if I've put the proper love into these little things - they won't notice the extra effort at all and will simply feel at ease, comfortable, and entirely at home!
Father, We have prayed, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  Let our home be a place of welcome and a source of love and comfort for those who live here, and most especially for those who visit here.  Show us how to best put our home, our meals, our belongings at the service of you and our guests.  May our hospitality toward others flow naturally from our desire to love and serve you.  Amen.  St. Martha, pray for us.  

"...the Christian vocation consists of making heroic verse out of the prose of each day.  Heaven and earth seen to merge, my children, on the horizon.  But where they really meet is in your hearts, when you sanctify your everyday lives."

Goodness gracious - that was long, but I should probably make it a point to read this post frequently.  I need these reminders.  Love.  Serve.  Sanctify.  Glorify.  Every day.  And start again when I forget.  Because I will certainly forget.  I may slip into my familiar sorrowing and sighing on any given evening, but his "mercies are new every morning."  And I sure do need that assurance to cheerfully take on tomorrow's abundance of simple realities.

St. Josemaria, pray for us!
Oh yeah! ps - did you know I originally chose the title "Oridinary Lovely" because of St. Josemaria??  I guess in a way, he's sort of like the patron of my little blog (and before this, he was watching over my now-void-of-merchandise ordinarylovely Etsy shop!)

(If you want to read a little about, and by, St. Josemaria Escriva - and I gently nudge you to do so (!) - check out this website,, to read a short biography of his life, view a few biographical video clips, and read some of his best-loved homilies.)


  1. This is so good, Theresa. I need to do so much work on not seeing myself as a victim and seeing once again that I am undeserving of this work He has given to me. I love the idea of conducting our work with that air of nobility. I feel like St. Josemaria gives me the freedom to not feel guilty about my perfectionism but to see that when properly ordered, it can be used to glorify God and acknowledge the dignity of this ordinary vocation.

  2. Awesome meditation/blog post! I am def. going to be re-reading this again and again!

  3. Wow. Theresa, not only are you an incredibly articulate writer, but the wisdom contained here is beautiful. St. Josemaria was an amazing person and I love how you are sharing his holiness with all--bringing us closer to God. Thank you for sharing! Lisa P.

  4. This is great! Coming back to it later tonight on so I can really let it sink in. Thanks T:)


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