A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Something Small

Posted on: September 5, 2013

Saints and blesseds serve as role models of the faith for us. Today we remember Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who ministered to the poor and the dying and spoke out for the unborn. But after reading Mother Teresa’s bio in Voices of the Saints: A 365-Day Journey With Our Spiritual Companions, many of us—understandably—would find the prospect of imitating her a daunting one.

Take this description of her early missionary work: “She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, and in rapid succession opened a home for the dying, a novitiate, a children’s home and a leper’s village.”

It would be easy to look at Mother Teresa’s ministry and tell ourselves that we couldn’t possibly live up to that, so it would be pointless to try.

But the thing to imitate is not her ministry but rather her great faith; as she said herself, “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He’s called me to be faithful” (The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd Edition).

We can also imitate the way she put her love of God into action—which doesn’t have to mean a grand gesture, as she explained:

A mere smile, a short visit, the lighting of a lamp, writing a letter for a blind man, carrying a bucket of charcoal, reading the newspaper for someone—something small, very small—may, in fact, be our love of God in action.

~ Teresa of Calcutta, quoted in Voices of the Saints: A 365-Day Journey With Our Spiritual Companions

Here are a few suggestions of small ways to put our love of God into action:

a woman of faith

My great-grandmother Irene, a woman of faith who shared family stories and used her talents to create homemade gifts

At home

We could keep distant relatives up-to-date on our children’s lives by phone and by e-mail, make time for sit-down family dinners several times a week so we can reconnect, help out other family members by sharing chores on a busy weeknight (something we often do on taekwon-do and music lesson nights), or use our time and talents to make gifts for friends and family (a scrapbook, a family photo album, a music mix on CD, a family tree, etc.).

For someone who struggles with sewing machines, as I do, even hemming your growing teenager’s new jeans can be an act of love. So can making sure he or she gets enough rest and healthy food and not too much screen time—which, as I can vouch, is much harder than it sounds.

In our parish

We could give someone a ride to Mass, bring communion to ill or shut-in parishioners through the pastoral care team, help with the children’s liturgy, assist in running (or even starting) the youth group, or serve on our parish’s pro-life committee to keep people aware of upcoming events or changes to laws.

In our community

We could take wish-list items to the Ottawa Humane Society or an animal rescue such as the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, take part in the Cleaning the Capital campaign, volunteer to collect items from grocery store drop boxes and take them to the food bank, serve as a mentor with the Children’s Aid Society, or help in classrooms through the Ottawa Network for Education’s Ottawa Volunteers in Education (OVIE) program.

I’d love to hear how you (or someone you know) put feet to your faith!


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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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