Being Responsible Only for the One Action of the Present Moment

by Mark Votava

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I was taught by my upbringing that it is the big things that will supposedly change the world.  I was raised in a family were we went to a big Catholic church every week where God seemed to be too big to be sought.  The priests were impersonal and distant to me.  I believed that God was far removed from my small world in the particular place I lived, but I am coming to understand that it is in the small acts of love where God is moving and working within me in everyday life.

  •  Love is sometimes perceived as too small and ordinary  

Loving others is all about what the world perceives as too small and too ordinary for it to possibly be of God.  Love is not “spiritual” enough for us.  Love is not considered “religious” enough for us.  Love does not fit into our programs and services.

  •  Love cannot be boxed up or figured out

Love cannot be controlled because it is everywhere.  Love cannot be boxed up into propositional statements.  Love cannot be figured out.

  •  Love is relational, mysterious, subversive, countercultural, miraculous

Love is relational.  Love is mysterious.  Love is subversive.  Love is countercultural.  Love is miraculous.

  •  Paying attention to the small, hard to see things

We are to pay attention to the small, hard-to-see things of life in the parish.  “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…” (I John 4:16).  The communal imagination needs eyes for the small.  It is through the small that we live our lives.  Christ always manifests himself to us through the small.

  • Being responsible only for the one action of the present moment

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, says in her book Loaves and Fishes, “Young people say, What good can one person do?  What is the sense of our small effort?  They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment.  But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus did the loaves and fishes.

  •  Doing the small things that bring relational care

Our love could be multiplied again and again as we do the small things that build relational care in the parish.  Are we on a path that will give our lives to explore the small things of love?  Jesus is waiting for us in the small particulars of life.

  •  Collaboration and partnership around the small things

He is wanting some collaboration and partnership around the small things where he lives and dwells.  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…” (1 John 4:7).

How can we become an expression of love by paying attention to the small things in everyday life together?