February 2, 2021 | Miles Christi
A favorite motto of St. Teresa of Calcutta was: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This saying is very simple, yet it can have a profound impact on our daily lives if we put it into practice by sanctifying our ordinary works.
What makes some actions great? The answer is love. The more love we place in everything we do, the better the actions will be.
We know, for instance, that martyrs gave their lives for God. . . you see how much love they had for God. The fact of giving their lives for God was something huge. But that doesn’t mean that other saints that were not martyred did not love God as much, or even more. For that, you have the example of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. They weren’t martyrs, but we do know that they loved God very much. The humble tasks they performed in Nazareth were pleasing to God because of the love with which they were completed.
This is a very important teaching for us because it helps us see that, yes, we want to do great things for God, but it doesn’t need to be something that’s exteriorly or apparently great. There is greatness in the small things that we do every day. From waking up in the morning, making breakfast for your family, or going to work, or taking your children to school, or going to the grocery store, or to the gym, or whatever you do. All of those little things every day have great value if they are done with love. That’s the key thing of the value of our actions.
The actions we do every day may be very simple, but instead of doing those things just to do them—just following the motions of our nature—let’s try to put some purpose into them. Let’s do them for God and for others as well. The progress in our spiritual life depends on the grace of God that has been given to us, not only in Baptism, but also throughout our lives, through the graces He gives us throughout our lives, through actual graces that you get in prayer, through the sacraments and Confession, the Eucharist and so forth, but also any grace you get by any good action you do. That’s how we move forward spiritually. That’s how we come closer to the heart of Jesus.
If you’re not attentive, the thief of vainglory can rob you of your good intentions. We will often be tempted to seek the praise, esteem, and honor for ourselves instead of for God, but in those moments when those thoughts come, just simply say, “Lord, I do it for you.” Just by taking a moment to reflect on all the benefits that God has given us will lead us to be more grateful to Him and will also make it much easier for us to do things out of love for Him. We should try to avoid doing things for the purpose of being praised, to be discreet in our actions, and to avoid human respect.
One of the most effective means to keep love as the intention behind our actions is to keep God’s presence throughout the day. During the day, you have many moments in which you can, for just a fraction of a second, raise your mind to God and say, “Lord, I love You. Thank You for this or thank You for that.” You connect yourself with Him, even though you’re doing something very simple. You just made a phone call, you’re in the grocery store, you work in an office, or you are studying, whatever you are doing, it’s not difficult for a fraction of a moment to raise your mind to God and connect with Him. Offer what you’re doing with love by just simply saying, “thank You” or “I love You.” It’s that simple. It doesn’t need to be very elaborate. What matters is that it comes from the heart.
That is what the saints did. They purified their intentions. Not only at the beginning of the day, but also throughout the day. Be sure to start your day with God. Start with prayer, but then during the day, renew the purpose, the intention, the love with which you do things. If you do that, you will be a great saint. You can be, right now, saints in the making.