I live an ordinary life. I’m a wife and mother. I work a communications job, go to a book group with friends, walk my dog, go to the grocery store, attend Mass on Sundays…. Pretty normal and ordinary. I’m really OK with living an “ordinary” life, but I do have a few questions.
- We think great deeds make a saint, but what if I’m not called to greatness?
- How do I become a saint with an ordinary life?
- Who are my saints showing me the path to becoming holy in the ordinary of life?
While many of the named Saints did not live what we might consider “ordinary” lives, many became Saints by the way they lived in the ordinary of their lives.
Saint Therese of Lisieux
St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower was a cloistered nun from a pious family with means. We might not think of her life as ordinary. (Who else personally pleads with the Pope to join a cloister at 14 years old!) But, as you read “A Story of a Soul”, you realize her little way to heaven meant that she did ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
One of her extraordinary things was the way she treated a fellow nun whom she disliked and found irritating. When interacting with this sister, she responded with love and charity. In her writings, she details how difficult it was to not respond in a disagreeable manner when she was frustrated, but that she saw it as a true way to live the commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. That example is something I can most certainly apply in the ordinary of my life.
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
When I say Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta is an example of an ordinary Saint, you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind. After all, St. Teresa of Calcutta is a Saint who lived a radical life dedicated to God. Yes, she did, but if you break down what she did in her day to day that made her holy, you’ll see she exemplified being extraordinary in the ordinary.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta saw the face of Jesus in each person she met and treated them as if they were Jesus himself by seeing them, loving them, and always treating them with kindness. Her example challenges us to be kind and loving to everyone. One place she tells us to start, is by smiling.
“And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other, naturally we want to do something.”Saint Teresa of Calcutta
How simple and ordinary is a smile? And yet, what a difference receiving a smile can make to a person and to the person offering that kindness. It is the start of something powerful.
My third ordinary Saint example is one of my favorite mom Saints. St. Monica was a wife and mother with a less than perfect family, much like the rest of us. We know of St. Monica not because of her extraordinary life, but because her most challenging son wrote about her influence bringing him to Christ. As you might know, he became Saint Augustine, a Doctor of the Church.
St. Monica dedicated her life to loving her family, praying for them, and trusting in God. This is one of the most ordinary things we as parents do for our families. She spent decades praying for her husband to find God, and then persistently praying for her son to become a christian. St Monica trusted in the Lord for the conversion of her husband and son, never giving up on praying for them.
I’m drawn to St. Monica as an ordinary Saint by the mentions of her frequent, prayerful, weeping over her son. As a mother, I know what it’s like to turn to God in tears while parenting. She’s a kindred spirit whom I can turn to for intercession and as a role model as a mother. St. Monica shows us through her example that with persistent prayer for our families, patience, and trust in the Lord, we may through the grace of God also be holy.
All three of these named Saints were extraordinary but provide us an example of how we can practice holiness in the ordinary of our lives to help us become a saint.
Who is your saintly role model who helps you be holy in the ordinary of your life?