“Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux
On my previous posts, I’ve discussed about love. About loving loving God, and loving our neighbor. We’ve learned about what we are made of. The question is, where do we go from here? Or “how” do we start to love?
St. Therese of Lisieux is one of my favorite Saints. She also happens to be the patron Saint of my favorite parish, the St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in UP Los Baños. St. Therese is also known as “The little Flower”, “Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus”. Her original name was Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin.
She was a Carmelite nun and though outwardly unremarkable, was later recognized for her exemplary spiritual accomplishments. She was then named a doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. (Britannica)
Though she lived in seclusion, and her life on earth was relatively short (she died at the age of 24), because of tuberculosis, her impact in history is very remarkable and this is largely attributed to her autobiography “The Story of A Soul.”
Among her titles, my personal favorite, “The Saint of Little Ways” best describes her. She defined her doctrine of the Little Way as
“the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute surrender.”
She reminds me that the little things, little deeds and small acts of kindness can really create an impact to our lives when done out of love. These little ways glorify our God.
I realized that, as humans, we tend to look and focus more on the bigger and more complex things. Achieving greater heights, expanding the business, gaining more “big-time” connections, learn more of this and that. These are actually good. And we should really do most of these things. We ought to dream great, be more capable of handling bigger tasks. But we often make mistakes by not appreciating or by disregarding the small things.
In reality, little things can make or break us.
A simple smile to a stranger can make his day, a simple ‘goodbye’ to your loved ones every morning before leaving home can enhance your connection with them, a short prayer before a meal could remind you of God’s providence, realizing that you are so blessed. All of these things give us positive emotions and connections. Failure to connect can backfire to your relationships big time. Bro. Bo Sanchez discussed this in his article ‘Fight the Relationship Drift.’
My Little Ritual
When I wake up in the morning, I have a little ritual. I read the mass readings for the day. I reflect on the Word of God for about 10 minutes. This gives me the guidance and counseling that I need each day. Imagine doing this everyday. This little ritual, if done on a regular basis, surely improves the way I think and consequently, the way I act. With this, I can do great in life.
But, just doing the little things is not enough. You can say, “I do the little things, I do the little household chores, I do my simple assignments, And hey, I don’t just say goodbye to my loved ones before going out, I also kiss them”, etc. etc…
It’s not just the doing of things, but also the “attitude” of doing it.
I’ve mentioned earlier my morning ritual. Imagine if I wake up in the morning and read the daily gospel only with my eyes and not with my heart, and after that I’m still worrying about the problems that I’m going to face for the day with an irritated face. Then, nothing really happened! I just wasted my 10 minutes of the day. It’s no less than reading a bunch of abstract words.
When you do the small things, do it out of love.
Read the Word of God as if God is speaking to you (He really does). Boil water each morning thinking those who will be drinking their coffee will be revitalized. Text “I love you” to your girlfriend from the bottom of your heart. Give slippers to the old people in the house so that they won’t feel the cold floor. Ask an office mate what you can help him with. Tell a friend that he/she looks wonderful today. Take your partner to dinner. Treat him/her once in a while.
Trust me, these little things will change your perspective on life. It will change the way you are. By doing the ordinary things with an extraordinary attitude, you will have that experience with God. Of course God is in everything and in everywhere, but we fail to see that because we lack that kind of “attitude.”
Why the Halfling?
By now you should notice that I am a fan of The Lord of the Rings for an obvious reason. Before I finish this article let me share with you my favorite scene in LOTR’s prequel, The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey.
It was when Gandalf (a wizard) was asked by Lady Galadriel (a powerful elf). She said, “Why the Halfling?” (This pertains to Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit or a small creature)
She was puzzled why Gandalf chose a hobbit to be with them in such a very important and dangerous journey. Gandalf reflected and responded, “I don’t know. Saruman (a white wizard) believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness at bay… Why Bilbo Baggins? Because I am afraid and it gives me courage.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Friend, start small. Love bigtime.
Peace be with you.
Mark Lester Fernando
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.