John Morales welcomed Father Marcel Taillon onto Morning Air to talk about the small sacrifices and mortifications we make throughout our day, and whether the sanctification of those small matters really has a bearing on our personal holiness.
John and Father Marcel began by discussing one of the saints best known for her dedication to doing the little things with love: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. St. Thérèse, who became a Carmelite when she was 15, never spent much time outside of her convent. Though some religious are called to venture far and wide to do missionary work, Thérèse was “born for glory” in a different way.
Even as a child, bold Thérèse knew she was called to be great, and though she died at the age of 24 from health complications, those 24 years came to be known far and wide as one of the greatest examples of living the ordinary life well. Thérèse’s way of life was nicknamed “the little way”.
There are two passages that St. Thérèse said struck her as she learned to sanctify the small things of her quiet life:
“Let whoever is naive turn in here.” (Proverbs 9:4)
“For thus says the LORD: I will spread prosperity over her like a river, like an overflowing torrent, the wealth of nations.
You shall nurse, carried in her arms, cradled upon her knees; As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.” (Isaiah 66:12-13)
To Thérèse, she felt like she occupied a lowly and insignificant role in the great scheme of things. But these passages showed her definitively that God takes notice of the little things, and that He shall be her comfort in the struggles of everyday life.
It is not by our works that we attain personal holiness. It is by the grace of God that we are carried to the summit of sanctity. Rather than letting her chores in the convent or the obnoxious habits of her sisters bother her, she allowed them to be the very cornerstones of her joy and triumph. They were the tools by which she would attain the glory for which she believed she was born.
“‘Do small things with great love.’ Mother Teresa said that. And it’s really a matter of not pushing through these small frustrations but making them opportunities for holy sacrifice throughout the day,” said Father Marcel. “And I think Thérèse is the perfect saint and model for this kind of spirituality that we’re talking about today.”
Without thinking about the daily opportunities for mortification on a consistent basis, it might be easy for us to casually ignore the opportunities to grow in selflessness, patience, or generosity. But when you take a moment to ask yourself if the Lord notices our acts of sacrifice, the answer becomes so obvious and simple.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:29-32)
Our Father in Heaven knows everything. If you ask for the grace to offer something up, He will give it to you. He will take notice of your acts of love like this, and He will carry you to the peak of personal holiness and acknowledge you before God the Father.
There is no shortage of opportunities to begin that climb today. The mundane and the boring can become our greatest allies in attaining sainthood. Get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, forego sugar in your coffee or music on your commute, deal with obnoxious coworkers with patience and understanding, give everybody the benefit of the doubt, make eye contact with people you talk to, keep your laundry off of the ground. And as practically helpful as all these things are, the most important step is to do your best and offer it to Our Lord.
“I assure you, my sons and daughters, that when a Christian carries out with love the most insignificant everyday action, that action overflows with the transcendence of God.” (St. Josemaría Escriva)
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