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Fr. Peter-Michael Preble

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Finding God in the Ordinary

Posted: 05/ 5/11 09:05 PM ET

Most everyone's life is very ordinary. We rise in the morning, go about our business and the world does not pay us any attention at all outside of our circle of influence. Basically, our lives are very ordinary. We go day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year and for most of us our life does not change. I for one like that my life is usually the same. There is some comfort to be gained from the knowledge that today and tomorrow will be the same.

We have just completed the holiest week of the year and now we are faced with a long stretch of time that in some ecclesiastical circles is called ordinary time. The question is how does one find God in the everyday situations of life? How do we find God in the everyday things that we do, or can we? Is God present in everything or only in those things that we would traditionally call holy? As hard as it is to imagine we have to do just that.

In the Orthodox Church some priests will function as what is known as a Spiritual Father. This is a much deeper relationship than one would think of when they think of the western concept of spiritual direction. The Spiritual Father is in a very real sense a guide and a fellow traveler or, as the Celts called them, the Anamcara or Soul Friend. It is the ministry of the Soul Friend to guide the person along their spiritual path; they are never alone as the Soul Friend is always there. I have the privilege to serve as a Soul Friend to several people and to join them on their journey.

The process that I start to take them through is what some call "Sanctifying the Whole Day." I am not sure where this concept comes from (though I am sure I picked it up somewhere), but it does have its roots in early monasticism as well as the writing of St. Paul. St. Paul tells us to pray unceasingly and the Orthodox monastics try to do just that and in so doing they sanctify the day, or in other words they sanctify the ordinary.

Part of the process is to begin to see everything as being interconnected. God created all that we see and continually renews His creation. The tree is connected to the soil and so on, but we also need to see how we, humanity, fit into this equation. God created man in His image and likeness and placed Him in the garden, Genesis tells us. He gave this creation dominion over everything and told man to name each and every plant and animal. The creator did this and so we are now connected, in a spiritual way, to all of the creation. We have an obligation to care for this creation, and in order to do this we must be able to see the creator in His creation.

Another part of this process comes from the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaría Escrivá. The philosophy of Opus Dei, the charism is you will, is to "Find God in Daily Life." By this Escrivá means that if you are a janitor then you are the best janitor that you can be; if you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company then you are the best CEO you can be. We do our work, no matter what it is, to the glory of God.

Finding God in the everyday things of life is not just for people who live in monasteries but for those who live in the everyday world. Husbands and wives, children, workers, students, missionaries, etc. If we do our work, no matter what that is, to the glory of God, then our work becomes holy and we have in a very real sense sanctified the ordinary.

So how do we begin? We have to start by knowing that we are of value to God. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God then we are of value. No matter what our station in life, we are of value to God and the Kingdom. Once we have realized that, then we can move to the next step. That step is to see that everyone else has been created in the image and likeness of God and is of value, again, no matter what their station in life, they are children of God the same as you.

After we have this epiphany then we start to see the good in everything, every person and every creature that has been created. We will slowly start to see the interconnectedness of everyone and everything, and its value will start to become clear. This is not a new concept; it has roots in the spirituality of the early Celtic Christian church and is as real today as it was generations ago. The Celts believed that that they could find the divine in all of created nature. It is unclear whether they believed the divine was embodied in the creation or whether they saw the divine as intimately reflected either way they saw a connectedness of everything and saw the hand of God in His creation.

The spiritual life is not that difficult. We make it difficult. All we need do is to look at the ordinary in our lives and see how we can make this an offering to God. How does our work influence the world around us and how does the world influence each of us. If we look closely we will be able to find God in the ordinary of our lives; in fact; since God is in each one of us, we just might be looking at Him each day.

 

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