Monday, November 15, 2010

Little Things

A great deal of carrying out Catholic Social Teaching is in the little things. Not many of us are in a position to set wages or prices; we don't have much control over laws and regulations, though thankfully we live in a democratic nation that does give us some say; and a lot of us don't have enough wealth to develop an impoverished neighborhood, or to feed, clothe, and shelter all the hungry, naked, and homeless.

But we do have the power to love. As Mother Teresa, a great example of living out the social teaching of the Church, said, "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” All of our Christian everyday life can be summed up in the 1st and 2nd great commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' -- Matthew 26:36-37

This can easily be carried out everyday by a simple smile or hell, an extra out-of-your way thank you or compliment, a recognition of someone else's good work or unselfishness. These things spread Christian love much more quickly and effectively than donating a large sum to a good cause.

Indeed, the best way to convert the hearts of others is to love others. Our joy and unselfishness will attract others to live the same way. No one wants to join a group who uses guilt and fear as their motivation.

Yet, these small things can be very difficult, as the desire to serve oneself is great and hard to overcome. Overcoming our tiredness or grumpiness, frustrations with circumstances out of our control, and other selfish desires are very difficult tasks indeed, but as Mother Teresa also said, "Unless a life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile."

Pope Leo XIII wrote: "The happy results we all long for must be chiefly brought about by the plenteous outpuring of charity; of that true Christian charity which is the fulfilling of the whole Gospel law, which is always ready to sacrifice itself for other's sake...which was outlined by St. Paul in these words: 'Love is patient, love is does not seek its own suffers all things...and endures all things'"

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