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Sanctifying the Ordinary

Sanctifying the Ordinary

I have been changing diapers for the last 14 years of my life- a task that I first approached with a mix of apprehension and excitement as a new mom. It wasn’t long though before it evolved into a task I often dreaded, and I’m not ashamed to admit I sometimes begged my husband to complete for me. It always seemed that the baby in question would need changing at the most inopportune moments – when I was about to leave to work, in the middle of Mass, while I was helping an older sibling with homework, and it sometimes involved me changing outfits as I was heading out the door, or changing the baby again after I had already done so. It was a task that, I’m ashamed to admit, I would fulfill begrudgingly, because I had to, because I was the mom. There seemed to be no end in sight. I have five children, and right when one was getting out of diapers, another baby was arriving.

A priest once told me that there is sanctity in our ordinariness. God calls us to holiness right where we are, even in the midst of changing diapers. Going about my daily duties as a mother gave me a myriad of opportunities to serve the Body of Christ, beginning with my family. I had never really realized how all the “chores” I have to do on a daily basis serve a higher purpose. Every day, God gives me the opportunity to perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. I feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, several times a day, sometimes all day with so many kids in the house. I instruct the ignorant as I homeschool my children and help them understand what happens in the world. I counsel the doubtful when I answer their questions or boost their confidence. I admonish sinners when I warn them about the consequences of their actions. I attempt to bear wrongs patiently, something that is often challenging for me. I forgive offenses willingly and comfort the afflicted every time that I break up an argument and deal with the “he did this, and he did that.” We pray together as a family, for each other, for our world, for our friends and relatives, for our leaders, for the living and the dead.

Tasks Can Transform Us

Changing diapers, a task I loathe, is a task that has the power to transform me, to strengthen my spiritual journey. St. Therese of Lisieux reminds me of this. In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, St. Therese details how she regularly performed tasks that she did not necessarily enjoy, like peeling potatoes or doing laundry while another Sister splashed dirty water on her. Instead of complaining or acting annoyed, like I sometimes do, St. Therese would thank God and embrace the “treasure” that God had bestowed on her. My vocations as a wife and mother, and all the sacrifices and tasks that they entail, are truly treasures God has given me. They are my road to sanctity, and through the little everyday challenges, I have the opportunity to grow closer to our Lord and experience the joy that comes from fulfilling God’s will. I begin my day with this Morning Prayer written by St. Therese:

Morning Prayer by St. Therese of Lisieux

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest
works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting
them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly
Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may
one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.
Amen.

Sometimes it’s easy to believe the lie that you have to do something extraordinary to serve God or become a saint. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:40 that “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Every diaper I change, every right I wrong, every mouth I feed, every tear I wipe is a chance to serve Jesus. What a different attitude I would serve my family with if I remembered His words. For now, I’ll welcome every opportunity that God gives me to serve, whether it be in little ways or big ways, and pray that the Holy Spirit may guide me in finding joy in all things.

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