I have taken for myself the parents of the Martin Girls as my patrons for trying to live the ordinary demands of an ordinary life, as an authentic path for seeking God. Perhaps it sounds odd, but accepting the ordinary has been very difficult for me.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in the spiritual life is the reverence that the ordinary, natural elements of life deserve. It is only in being grounded in the rich earth of ordinary life that the supernatural can be authentically received. In spite of my lifelong devotion to St. Thérèse, I spent many years quite frustrated by the routine and pressures of living the demands of daily life.

Mounds of laundry and dishes, hurrying to work, and hurrying home again to family expectations: all these felt like barriers to responding to God. The realities of my life did not seem to match any concept of holiness that might refer to me.

What did it take to open my eyes to the very real presence of God hidden beneath the surface of the demands of ordinary life? Years of simply doing what looked like the next right thing and a flood of graces. What did I ponder on in those days? Mostly survival from one necessity to the next. But once I began to believe that the call to holiness is universal and specific to each circumstance, then my soul was free to rejoice in all things.

What moved my soul beyond survival mode to the awareness of the presence of God? Fidelity to Mass, I think, even though I judged that I was not really praying. I carried a rosary in my pocket, even though as a young woman I rarely actually said it all, let alone meditate on a Mystery. The mystery to me was how profoundly I loved my family even though I was totally overwhelmed by them. By such tiny, desperate steps I began to believe that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, because He chooses to be with me in all the chaos that I often considered my daily life to be.

If I’m not aware of God in the ordinary joys and sorrows of life, not in a state of deep gratitude for the natural elements of life, then I’m not yet truly in love with Our Father who created the natural, and said that it was good.

All things are created by God. Therefore, the most natural, common elements of life have the potential to be a revelation of God Himself. Growth in holiness cannot be His gift to me if I don’t learn to recognize the gifts that He has already given me and is giving me each day.

I’m just beginning to appreciate the importance of the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine on the relationship between grace and nature. The God-given nature of each individual is specifically given as the foundation for the relationship that He desires to offer to that soul. By means of the characteristics of my particular personality, profession, and limitations, God chooses to reveal Himself to me, and through me. There are no separate categories of life in respect to encountering the living God. God is all in all.

By Jacqueline-Thérèse

Living the Sacrament of Matrimony with a small flock of children and grandchildren. Greatly influenced by the Eucharist, the Oblation of St. Therese and the Rule of St. Benedict. In service through retreat work, fostering lay communities and vocation discernment.

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