On occasion we are motivated to perform some good work that will benefit the welfare of others. Civic leaders do this on a regular basis. Churches and social agencies continue to aid the poor and needy. Health workers strive to keep us healthy. Some of this altruistic work is acknowledged by the community, and other good deeds are accomplished quietly.
And then there are the mundane actives of our daily lives that seem to take up most of our time. There are meals to prepare, children to raise, shopping, the routine of our work, etc. Because most of our time may seem ordinary we don’t have the satisfaction of performing any great works – just small works.
If you sometimes feel this way, think of Brother Lawrence (1611-1691), a Carmelite lay brother who spent forty years of his life in a monastery kitchen in Paris. There was nothing particularly special about him. He came from a humble background and had little or no formal education. He would not be remembered in history had it not been for M. de Beaufort, a visiting official on the staff of the cardinal of Paris, who happened to initiate conversation with Brother Lawrence and was astonished by the depth of his spiritual wisdom. “According to Brother Lawrence, wherever we might find ourselves, whatever the task at hand, we should perform our duties with a consciousness of God’s loving presence. With such awareness all our activities are hallowed; we would thus find ourselves in a state of continuous prayer or conversation with God.”
While we might wonder whether or not we are performing any great works, Brother Lawrence made no distinction between great works and small. As he liked to observe, “God regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
In all we do, great or small, may we do it with love.
(See “All Saints” R. Ellsberg)