When we read the stories of the saints, we are often struck by their great and heroic deeds. The lengths that the apostles travelled to preach the Good News, the perseverance of St. Paul despite his shipwrecks and imprisonment, and the courage of the many martyrs throughout the ages are inspiring. However, they can also make us feel that we have to do epic things in order to be saints.
But there are many other saints who lived quiet lives of heroic virtue. St. Therese of Lisieux is one of only 33 people to be named a Doctor of the Church, partly because of her “Little Way” of approaching with love the tasks and people of everyday life. St. Therese said:
Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”
Recently on The Joe Sikorra Show, Joe talked about how doing small, even unpleasant, things can be a joy when we do them for the glory of God. He said:
“No doubt about it, life is going to present challenges for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t smile. You might have a job where you think you’re not happy, you don’t like it. And Paul speaks about this in Ephesians when he says to obey your earthly masters, but always with an eye on obeying the real Master, Christ. He says don’t just do what you have to do to get by.
And maybe you’re in a job right now and you think, ‘I’m not really happy.’ But what if you could actually learn to work for Christ, in whatever it is that you’re doing, working heartily as His servant? And Paul, again in Ephesians, says to do this work with a smile on your face.
Now, whatever the job is, why would you smile? Because when you keep in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.There have been times and jobs that I’ve been less grateful for, but anytime, even when I’m trying to serve my friends or serve my family, when I do it for the glory of God it allows me to love that person more completely and to serve with joy.”
Fr. Dave Heney added:
“Absolutely. There was a very old, ancient custom in the Church that when people took out a piece of paper to write something, they would write at the top AMDG – Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam , which is Latin for All For the Greater Glory of God. Or maybe JMJ – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Basically, no matter what they were writing, it was being dedicated to the glory of God.
If you had that attitude toward every single thing that you did, then there really is no such thing as a small thing. There’s no such thing as a meaningless act. There’s no such thing as a trivial behavior, when everything you do is for the greater glory of God.
And that’s all you do, you just say it – that this is for the greater glory of God. What that does is that it is simply a consciousness of God, you are aware that God is with you, observing you, seeing you, alongside of you as you are engaging this activity, which really changes it in a very dramatic way. There’s no longer any trivial, meaningless, small, or menial task. Everything is elevated in a very beautiful way.
It’s actually just more difficult to be sad. If we offer it up for the greater glory of God, it’s just more difficult to be down and sad when we do.”
Listen to the full conversation below: