From Ordinary to Extraordinary

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"From ordinary to extraordinary" by Elizabeth Reardon (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: By Anthony Delanoix (2015), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD

Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. … So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul (Acts 4:13, 19:11; emphasis mine)

Though perhaps missed, ignored or even denied, everything in life has potential within. From the tiniest seeds to the most enormous creatures, there is a season and purpose for existence. Only mankind has been given the conscious choice to respond or not to God’s calling into being. So often we look and fail to see what is not obvious to the eye to make a determination of worth and success. But oh, how fortunate we are that God does not take the same cursory glance and standards when He measures potential! Instead He uses the most basic, and sometimes discarded, to work the most amazing miracles.

Although we tend to think about saints as holy and pious, and picture them with halos above their heads and ecstatic gazes, true saints are much more accessible. They are men and women like us, who live ordinary lives and struggle with ordinary problems. What makes them saints is their clear and unwavering focus on God and God’s people. (Henri Nouwen, Bread For the Journey)

So, let me ask you: How many of you want to be a saint one day? As a catechist, I love to pose this question to a sea of questioning faces young and old.  Inevitably some hands hesitantly raise with uncertainty as to what the correct answer is. “OK,” I say, “what if I told you that everyone here was created for sainthood? (With my own hand raised) Who would like to join me in answering the call?” To do so, however, means not focusing on what your eyes tell you but on God’s will and vision for you. Trusting neither the praise or criticisms of others but solely on God’s promise and plan for your life.

This is perhaps the most challenging part. For how do we ignore the thoughts, words, and action of others that seek to shape the outcome of our future? How do we resist its influence on us, and instead listen to a voice that lies in the stillness of our hearts? And if it is truly this difficult … why even try?

Let us not be content with the scotch tape and the aluminum foil of this world. Be Holy — wherever you are! (Mother Angelica, Guide to Practical Holiness)

As Mother Angelica so aptly put it, though created for greatness many of us are content to simply be scotch tape and aluminum foil. What is wrong with these you ask? They are both useful and easy to acquire. That is just it they are commonly found, and not unique in any way. In fact it is the item inside each that is considered valuable enough to require tape or wrap. Perhaps you may be struggling to hold the outside wrapping together, never daring to open or allow others to see the beauty inside. Or instead, you seek to preserve what is itself perishable in this world without thinking about the life that awaits.

If you are still wondering if you have unused gifts, or are unable to get past your field of vision, not to worry — we all do at some point in our lives. It is only through spending time in prayerful conversation with God and other would-be saints on the journey that we are able to leave behind the ordinary to accept the extraordinary.

Father, thank you for your words of reassurance of the greatness that you have placed within me. Help me to trust your voice and not the wisdom and perspective of others. And when I am tempted to settle to be scotch tape or aluminum foil, let me be unwavering as your love is for me. 


Copyright 2020 Elizabeth Reardon

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About Author

Elizabeth Reardon is Director of Parish Ministries and Pastoral Associate for the Collaborative Parishes of Resurrection & St. Paul in Hingham, Massachusetts; a wife and mother of three, and writer at TheologyIsAVerb.com. Her writing is an invitation to seek and create space for God in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.

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