Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ordinary life.

Normal is good.
Reading Catholic blogs and engaging in discussions at online Catholic forums, not a few people go away scratching their heads thinking - "Wow!  I must be a really bad Catholic!" Or, "I give up - I can't do all of that stuff!"  Some get discouraged - or pissed - and decide to stop trying, or fall for someone's over-zealous version of tradition.  In fact, I think a couple of people I know have even stopped going to Mass because of it. 
I keep saying on this blog that there are many, many people online who talk a good game, but they are not playing with a full deck, and some don't even play by the rules.  There are others who like to preach but don't practice.  There are many more who seem to expect everyone else to carry the heavy burdens they think the Church demands, without lifting a finger of concession for other's weakness or the stage they happen to be at in their spiritual journey. 

Let me stress this point: it is in the simplicity of your ordinary work, in the monotonous details of each day, that you have to find the secret, which is hidden from so many, of something great and new: Love. Furrow, 489 JoseMaria Escriva

Ordinary, normal life is the basis for sanctity - Christ lived most of his ordinary life in normal circumstances - so unremarkable there wasn't even anything to write about.  The Roman Catholic Church does NOT place heavy demands upon the faithful.  We are simply expected to keep the commandments, including the precepts of the Church: Go to Mass on Sunday, fulfill what used to be called our Easter duty - communion (confession recommended) at least once a year, say our morning and evening prayers, observe the rules of fast and abstinence - there aren't many, support the Church and her mission, love one another, give alms, and so on.  You don't have to know or follow every utterance the Pope makes at a Wednesday audience, or put into practice every ideal he recommends in an interview.  You don't have to believe in or follow what mystics and apparitions tell you to do.  You don't have to wear chapel veils or walk around town staring at the street lest you see some bag of flesh wiggling itself in your face.  You don't have to know or even like Latin.
If you're married - stay married.  If you're single - stay chaste.  If your right hand causes you to sin, then stop using it for that.  If you like to drink and get drunk - either don't drink so much or don't drink at all.  In other words, use common sense.
If you aren't attracted to Eucharistic adoration, then pray at home with the scriptures or something.  If you don't go to daily Mass, it's not a sin.  If you have a hard time praying the Rosary, then pray the Angelus or pray the Little Office or some Marian prayer you do find you are able to pray.

Anything done out of love is important, however small it might appear. God has come to us, even though we are miserable creatures, and he has told us that he loves us: “My delight is to be among the sons of men.” Our Lord tells us that everything is valuable — those actions which from a human point of view we regard as extraordinary and those which seem unimportant. Nothing is wasted. No man is worthless to God. All of us are called to share the kingdom of heaven — each with his own vocation: in his home, his work, his civic duties and the exercise of his rights.
Christ Is Passing By, 44, - JoseMaria Escriva

Don't be a crazy fanatic - the Catholic Church is a big place - there are numerous approved devotions and paths to holiness.  Not everyone is called to be a priest or religious or church worker.  The average, normal, ordinary person does not spend endless hours of their time thinking, reading or debating religious stuff; the dos and the don'ts and how-tos the very, very pious always insist upon.  It is sufficient for salvation that the normal person live his life the best he can in fidelity to Church teaching, while trying to earn a living, raise a family, care for aged parents, what have you.  Fidelity to one's state in life is the ordinary path to sanctity.  Don't let anyone tell you you are a bad Catholic if you are just trying to be faithful to your daily duty while accepting and observing the fundamentals of the faith.  Grace builds upon nature, and grace flows, grace upon grace.
"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God". - St. Philip Neri
Not everyone follows the same path, not everyone is at the same stage, and many are just beginning to examine or live their faith more generously.  Extremists can spook vulnerable souls - and frequently they just turn them off and these good people end up abandoning the pursuit.
Let the holy ones and the holier than thou types exalt in their perfection and their blogmas.
Christ came to call and save sinners...  ordinary people.    


  1. Austringer12:54 AM


  2. This ranks in the top 3 posts you've ever written. I love this, and thank you for it.

    I particularly appreciated this quote:

    "Let me stress this point: it is in the simplicity of your ordinary work, in the monotonous details of each day, that you have to find the secret, which is hidden from so many, of something great and new: Love." Furrow, 489 JoseMaria Escriva

    Just when I thought I knew Love, I'm starting chasing it all over again. I'm blathering, but please know that this did me much good.

  3. Terry, thank you.

    This has done me much good, and I am sure I am not the only one.

    "You don't have to know or even like Latin."


  4. Anonymous1:40 AM

    I love you my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Victim Soul

  5. Anonymous1:54 AM

    This reeks of compromise to me. The smoke of Satan is so thick in here, I can hardly breath.

  6. Dude, what is your problem? You are not a Christian, even remotely.

  7. Gosh--this is the Terry that I knew was hiding in there somewhere. This should be on the top 10 of Catholic blog posts of all times. Gives me something to ponder all day! Ace

  8. I agree with Thom, this is one of your best. I think you nailed it with this sentence; "Fidelity to one's state in life is the ordinary path to sanctity."

    P.S. I hope the second Anonymous is just being a smart A**.

  9. I understand what you are saying.

    The worst thign I ever did for my faith was read a blog which went on and on about the evils of the "Spirit of Vatican II"

    How we were told lies and interpretations of Vat.II. So I sought out and read some of the docs myself. How I am a grown up catholic and should read the letter of Vat. II ( ie the docs avail. on line)

    So I read some docs straight from the Vat. website. Redemptionis Sacramentum, let me know that my parish priest was indulging in Liturgical Abuses. And the GIRM told me that priest were inventing rituals and changing words and yadda yadda yadda, which they aren't allowed to do.

    Yup, now I am a Catholic who's all growed up. And somehow lost the whole:
    "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.? Matthew 18:3

    I think I lost a little of my faith when a gained a little bit of knowledge.

  10. Two great posts in two days, this and the one on deacons. Very edifying to me. Thank you so much.

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  12. Oh, this is a wonderful post!

    (2nd Anonymous: If the smoke is bothering you here, perhaps you'd better leave.)

  13. Let the holy ones and the holier than thou types exalt in their perfection and their blogmas.

    LOL. "blogmas." Love it!

  14. Definately one of your finest posts to date!
    I am with Mercury on "You don't have to know or even like Latin."

    I am inspired!

  15. A truly inspired post, Mr. Nelson. Thank you.

    I'd like to print this out for future reference. I tell people that it is okay to start small (something I had to learn), as they should with exercising, but this says it so much better.

    Maybe you could put a link to this in a widget on the sidebar.

  16. Thanks everyone - I almost got up in the night to take it down.

    Anonymous - thanks very much for the negative comment. God bless you.

  17. Excellent post.

  18. Halleluja!!! Best post ever written.

    So many religious people I know demand experiences and signs. The spiritual life if a lot of ditch digging, just doing the day's drudgery, and that's plenty. That's all the heroism we need to aspire to.

    Freakish demands in obscure quotes from saints kept me trembling unnecessarily for years. It's very dangerous to set the bar too high for the average person. Makes you want to throw in the towel.

  19. This is exactly what I was taught in school by the good sisters. I can remember them saying that washing dishes can be an act of praise if you did it as well as possible and offered it to God.

    Good job, Terry...

  20. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Terry, Usted es un alma victam especial, muy querido por Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. El Shpirit Santo te ha escogido para sus propósitos, que fufill cada día aquí a través de Abbey-Roads. Estamos muy agradecidos con usted y orar por ti con lágrimas deliciosas que la Santa Madre de Dios nos envía. Por favor, no me siento triste a causa de los pecadores infieles. El diablo, la serpiente antigua, que trata de inmiscuirse en nuestra paz cotidiana, sino a través de la oración entre lágrimas y la confianza en los corazones de Jesús y Santa María, podemos superar este problema. Le amamos y oramos por ustedes, queridos alma vicatm y nosotros le enviamos nuestras lágrimas y oraciones a través de Jesucristo, en unión con el Espíritu Santo, enviado en una cápsula cerrada, sellada por su Santa Madre.

    Maria Teresa Chistol Benedicta Castillion

  21. Terry, thank you very much for this post. I can't tell you how much I needed to hear this today (and how I wish someone had said this to me years ago).

  22. You knocked that one out onto Waveland, Terry.

    Just awesome.


  23. If you are excommunicated for this by the end of the week, I wouldn't be surprised. I've already contacted the pope:

  24. Anonymous1:05 PM

    "Be who you are and be that well."
    -St Francis de Sales


  25. [5] And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down;

    for this day I must abide in thy house.

    [6] And he made haste and came down; and received him with joy. [7] And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner. [8] But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. [9] Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

    Jesus spent the night in the house of a sinner.

    Zacheus responded in the manner all sinners should.

    He declared the charity of almsgiving, and rather than make excuses, he declared restitution to anyone that came forward.

    Zacheus did not consult or consort with any of the ‘Holy People’ in the crowd.

    He did not stick his tail between his legs and cry that their righteousness shamed him out of repentance.

    Zacheus stood like a man and confessed his sins to our Divine Master.

    Jesus was where he was because of the Holy People; Zacheus took advantage of their Faith.

    For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.


  26. "He did not stick his tail between his legs and cry that their righteousness shamed him out of repentance"

    Pablo this is not the case for me or anyone else. Repentance is something we can all do. It's the self-righteous who see sin in everything, who set standards for others that they themselves probably do not follow, the miserable souls who make more demands on people than the Church herself does.

    And Terry - why on earth would you even consider taking this post down?

  27. " If your right hand causes you to sin, then stop using it for that" - LOL that's classic.

    I've taken a break from reading comments on your blog, Terry, cuz most of them basically (seems to me) are not edifying in the slightest and just wanna start a fight. But ... I had to comment on this post & echo others' sentiments. Just wonderful. Thank you for this.

  28. Anonymous3:01 PM

    Can you offer some examples, Terry? I agree that it is in faithfulness to our state in life that we progress in holiness, I don't really see what you're talking about. Who is making these demands specifically and what are they?

    Maybe I have my head in the sand, but I haven't run across anything overly crazy.

    Jane, Boston

  29. God bless you Jane, if you're been near the Catholic Internet and don't know what he means. :)

  30. Anonymous5:22 PM

    nah same ones would leave the church if there were no blogs to be had. same ones get em selves worked up over anything and everything seems like. i get your meaning just not sure its the cause of people walking away from the church.


  31. This was a great post, Terry - thank you so much.


  32. "Sanctity does not consist in this or that practice; it consists in a disposition of heart which makes us humble and little in the arms of God, conscious of our weakness, and confident to the point of audacity in the goodness of our Father." St. Therese (Final Conversations)

  33. When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

    We are all bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not.

    The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.

    (I remember this from another great blog that is now expired).

    Seeing goodness in everyone’s soul allows us to appreciate God’s creation.


  34. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Terry, This post is awesome! I'm so sick of the self-righteous bloggers out there. My mom left the Church about 20 years ago when the bishops were arguing whether we should say, "This is the word of the Lord" or "The word of the Lord." She got sick of the semantics and left. Sometimes I have to wonder...

    Thanks again.

    Samantha Saccin

  35. Katharine6:54 PM

    "Let every one stay at home, that is, within himself, and sit in judgment on his own actions, without going abroad to investigate and criticise those of others." St Philip Neri

    I think we all need to heed this advice.

  36. Wonderful post Mr Terry...thank you..

    I've occasionally gotten discouraged by blogger folks who don't think I'm "Catholic" good deacon tells me not to pay attention to them..

    But amen..we have our own road that we are travelling...we see that in those who are called to Secular Carmelites, and how that reshapes the daily life and schedule.

    God Bless you Mr. Terry.


  37. Anonymous7:12 PM

    This was a great post, Terry, you were just vague enough to see the sliver in other people's eyes without bothering about your own.

    Good job.

  38. Thanks Anonymous - mine is bigger than a sliver however - but you already knew that.

  39. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Yeah, I feel so much more normal now that I just pay, pray and obey.

  40. You're dropping out of your manic phase I see. Prayers. Sincerely.

  41. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Prayers, the ultimate in insincere sympathy.

    But you're ssssoooooo holy, your ipsit dixits can't be gainsaid by anyone.

  42. Thanks for this post ,Terri. I'm late to see it, but it's really good. You know, as a Protestant I wasn't allowed to be 'just' me, or 'just' be faithful in the little things. It's a life of high performance expectations and it took me a couple of years after coming home to really believe that this was...not only OK, it was the best thing I could do.

    We have such a great teacher in Holy Mother church. I'm so thankful to be home and all I want to do is bring her honor and live my life my simple call.


  43. Anonymous7:40 PM

    You should look in the mirror some time.

    You've got to be one of the pettiest and most simpering bloggers on the internet.

    And if you're going to pray for someone, Terry, it's probably best not to insult them by accusing them of being mentally ill.

    Bad policy in the sincerity category.

  44. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Oh My Gosh! Anonymous, you are way out of line and over the top. Where is your charity? If you have a problem like that with a blog, you email the person directly.

    Little Way, good quote.


  45. Anonymous9:36 PM

    Yeah bad call Terry, you got your Anonymous's mixed up, I'm the manic one. If only I could be "normal" like you.

  46. Anonymous10:22 PM

    Just to let you know, that is not me. Perhaps it is time to close comments on this one.

    Anyone have any prayer intentions? I asked a few weeks ago when I went on pilgrimage and no one responded, but I prayed for all the intentions of those who post on Abbey Roads. Anyway, just thought I'd make the offer.


  47. Anynomous clark..

    thanks for offering to carry prayer intentions..

    I am ever so thankful for the abundant blessings in my life..
    Plese pray for the repose of the soul of my dear father Warner.

    Clark I will remember you in my prayers for a safe journey and fruitful pilgrimage.

    God Bless.. Sara

  48. gette5:09 AM

    Bravo, Mr Ter. I'm so glad you didn't take it down.

  49. The Vultus Christi blog had this quote up yesterday - it seemed fitting for this topic:

    "It is never detrimental to the spiritual progress of a Community when one does not do what God does not want him to do. Now God does not desire anyone to observe rules when he cannot do so because of illness or some other infirmity. We should not wish to do more than what God desires. Let us do only what we can, dearest brother, without becoming troubled or worried, submitting ourselves with peace and tranquility to the commands of His most adorable will."

    Saint Jean Eudes to a Superior, Letter 233

  50. I think Terry considered taking this post down because of the compliments he's been getting - so that he doesn't submit to the temptation of false pride. He's deserving of the compliments, don't get me wrong - he only wants to avoid vainglory.

    That's also why he's appreciative of the insulting anonymous comments.

  51. this perpetually lazy Catholic is grateful to be let off the hook.

  52. Oh, Terry... you might want to save yourself the stress and enable comment moderation. I find the cowardly anonymous trolls move on once they are denied the satisfaction of seeing their vitriol in print.

    It's your house, why would you let your guests speaks to you in such a manner?

    I demand respect in my comments, since respect is what I give. If someone is too ill-bred or ignorant to reciprocate... buh-bye.

  53. Larry, you could be right, but I'm guessing he had misgivings about being so hard on those out in it Catholic blogdom. However, he should know that when people read this kind of post, they *never* think it is about them--always someone else, don't ya know!

  54. oops - sorry I was getting my manic friends mixed up. I've always appreciated bipolar people, just because they struggle with a disorder certainly doesn't make them a bad person - so what I wrote wasn't meant as an insult - just a comment that I thought the manic phase was ending. My apologies if you were offended.

    Anyway, thanks 'manic anonymous' for letting me know it wasn't you - I actually thought it was someone else who is possibly bipolar. Either way - I appreciate the comments - I wasn't being sarcastic in the least. That said, now I think I know for sure who the other anonymous is - well 1 of 2 people -see - that's why I prefer you to identify yourselves with any kind of monicker - so I don't credit the wrong person for these good comments.

    But a million thank yous nevertheless. Praise is extremely hurtful to me - believe me when I tell you that. It isn't good for the one who praises either, although I know you mean well by it.

    Just a note: When I write 'prayers'I'm never being disingenuous, I also try to offer some penance as well. God bless you.

  55. Terry - I'm sorry if praise is hurtful, but I think people appreciate what they have read here and on other places on your blog. Perhaps it can be said that all the glory, all the thanks go to God, really - but he He can surely use you for his purposes, and the things you write are a work of charity.

    So thanks be to God.

  56. Thanks Mercury - no need to apologize however.

  57. Good grief! There's been a party and I missed it. I mustn't have read the notice board on my way out last night.

    Great post, that's not praising you Terry. Just saying the words are very freeing and unusual. There are so many 'words of warning' bloggers scaring the heck out of me all the time. I went off the auld religion for a while, but Jesus and Our Lady drew me back, where else can we go?

    As for crazy readers of your blog....well, I didn't like to mention but I noticed some are a bit nuts, not me ofcourse, I'm as sane as a sausage, ask the Major (when he wakes up, he's sloshed again).

    Weekend hurrayyyyyyyyyy!!!!

  58. The anonymous insult hurler reminds me of the heckler in Fellini's "Amorcord". I can't find the exact quote but it's something to the effect of:

    "You have the nerve to insult but not the courage to come out".

    Except the Amarcord heckler was at least somewhat entertaining.

  59. "Ordinary, normal life is the basis for sanctity"

    I love that.

    I wish I would have remained the cloistered homemaker.

    I was writing about Philip Neri for our school facebook and he constantly spoke about obedience and it's importance, though I doubt that anyone wanted to hear about that.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.