Thursday, August 25, 2016

Recipe for Holiness: Ingredient 7: Small Acts

An avalanche of kindness.  That is how I would describe this week.

It began with my sister in law offering to hang out with my kids for breakfast so I could take a final exam, online, in peace and quiet. The following morning my son greeted my husband and I with a fully wrapped (bow included) pre-anniversary present - a Magic Mesh Magnetic Screen Door.  Ours ripped a few weeks ago and he knew we would need to replace it before hosting a houseful of people this weekend.  Secretly, he arranged for my Dad to take him shopping so he could purchase it with his own money. A few hours later, a friend surprised me with a gift of a cute summer skirt in the colors of a new business that I have just jumped into. The evening ended with me dozing off on the couch while watching the Mets game only to feel my little one cover me with a blanket and kiss me on the cheek.

An avalanche indeed, consisting of the smallest acts of love and kindness.

We continue the Recipe for Holiness series this week with Pope Francis' next ingredient: small acts.  There is a temptation in all things to believe that it is only the spectacular, the heroic, or the super-abundant acts that make the difference.  We watch in awe as Olympic athletes break records to win gold medals.  The news reports recount tales of extreme heroism on the part of law enforcement. Even the church extols the sacrifices of the martyrs and the intense holiness of the saints.

Don't misunderstand me.  It is right to acknowledge and admire these acts of heroism.  I would like to propose that behind every act of heroism is a multitude of small acts done faithfully each day. The Olympic athlete does not win the gold without steadily persevering through conditioning exercises, mundane practices and bits of routines done over and over again. The vast majority of law enforcement's acts of protection and service go unnoticed by the general public. Finally, the saints themselves achieved their exalted place in the church through a lifetime of virtuous living and unwavering prayer. 

What's the lesson for us? 

The avalanche of kindness that I experienced this week was comprised of a few small acts of love. Like a true avalanche, these acts built upon each other to create a snowball effect of something much greater than they each were individually. Father Lawrence Lovasik, in his wonderful book The Hidden Power of Kindness, tells us:
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees."
Our little actions, when powered by love, make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.  Today, let us strive for the heights of holiness in the trenches of everyday life one small act of love at time.

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