The Duty of the Moment

Catherine Doherty

Catherine Doherty

“Doing the duty of the moment means focusing our whole person – heart, soul, body, emotions, intellect, memory, imagination – on the job at hand!  The duty of the moment done for God is glamorous, exciting, wondrous…..” Catherine Doherty, Grace In Every Season, Madonna House Publications, Combermere, Ontario, Canada

Many years ago, when I was a younger mother juggling pregnancies, little children, hospital shifts and all the other aspects of my daily life, I came across the writing of Catherine Doherty,  in particular, her book, Grace in Every Season.  At the time, I was craving spiritual guidance to ground the different areas of my day, direction to make sense of my very full life.  I devoured Catherine’s practical, no-nonsense writing.  Her roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-on-with-it approach resonated with me.  Even in the midst of breast-feeding, meal preparation, and the professional demands of an acute-care unit, I sought out stolen moments where I could read a page or two that would give me clarity and motivation to keep going.

Catherine wrote extensively about the duty of the moment and for a busy, tired mom, her words were powerful.  She reminded me that God’s Will placed me in my bustling home with my husband and children and on the hospital unit where I worked part-time.  It was in my ordinary life that He wanted me to live the Gospel without compromise, by attending to the duty of the moment.  He called me to do each task well because it was in paying attention to the little details wholeheartedly that I served him best.  Amongst the diapers, potty training and carpooling, I was called to serve.  In the indescribable surge of maternal love as I held my newborns for the first time and never wanted to let them go, I lived His Will for me.  Loving my husband passionately and being his helpmate served the Lord.  In my professional, compassionate approach to suffering patients and distraught families, I served God.

Life moves on.  As the children become older and the events of family life change, the duty of the moment evolves, but at the same time remains the same.  What is required of me changes as my children become more independent.   I am present to them in a different way than when they were babies, toddlers and young children.  As a working mom, everything from the care I give my patients to the mundane paper work and bookkeeping call me to continuous Gospel living in the duties of my work.

The duty of the moment, that which God expects of us in our present state of life, is different for everyone.  The priest and the single, lay person; the older widow, and the little child; the father of a family; all are admonished to live the Gospel differently than I am, but for all of us, living the Gospel is central and prayer is the root from which our lives unfold.  In whatever our day consists and wherever we find ourselves, living the Gospel without compromise means performing our duties well.  Catherine continues to teach us that “every task, routine or not, is of redeeming, supernatural value because we are united with Christ.”

Copyright 2013 Terry McDermott



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  1. sheri wohlfert on

    Beautifully said! I get busy and sometimes forget to serve and love in the middle of my to-do’s. Thanks for the reminder. I think I just added another title to my “I wanna read list”. Blessings on your day, Terry.

  2. Thanks, Sheri. Catherine Doherty has much to teach us. I smiled the whole time I read your article on the language of our footsteps. It’s something all moms can relate to.

  3. This is beautiful and so true. As a”stay at home” mom, I often get distracted and run down by all the “things” I need to get done but would really rather not. Especially with a nursing baby, I have to remind myself often that this, where I am or what I’m doing now is where I can find and serve Christ.

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