The Holiness of the Ordinary


“The Angelus” by Jean-François Millet (1814 – 1875)

After listening to a comment made by Archbishop Gustavo as he reflected upon his recent visit with Pope Francis, the following question stuck in my mind, “Is a Pope or a Saint an extraordinary person or a person who does small things extraordinarily well?

There are extraordinary moments scattered throughout my life – a moment of great clarity, an elevated sense of gratitude, a point in time when the most seemingly impossible circumstances come together in the most extraordinary way. However, the truth is most of my life is made up of just ordinary moments. Most days are ordinary. Most weeks are routine.

The word “routine” comes from a Latin root which means “a beaten path”; thus we also get the word “route” from the same root. And so is much of our lives. It is the beaten path of doing common, every day, run-of-the-mill things over and over again: washing the dishes, brushing our teeth, mowing the lawn, making dinner, paying bills, etc. Even when the doing of these things does not seem to make any real spiritual difference. What can possibly be significant about these things?

It seems to me that God calls us, not to avoid ordinariness, but to infuse it with new meaning – to recognize that the ordinary has extraordinary ramifications and possibilities. The real question is, how can we interject the glory of God’s grace into life’s seemingly ordinary and insignificant tasks?

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Cor. 10:31)

It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we do not. We are called to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people like you and me. The seemingly small things in life do matter. Let’s not forget that Our Lord was a carpenter for six times as many years as He was a rabbi. He understands and appreciates the common task, and will reward it.


About Pamela Mandeville

Pam is the Administrative Assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. She moved from Houston with the specific intention of becoming Catholic and getting involved in the Catholic community of San Antonio. Pam says, "Serving in this ministry of evangelization is a dream come true." The Pilgrim Log is the blog of the Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry, providing weekly spiritual reflections to help you journey toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Learn more about the Pilgrim Center of Hope by visiting

One response »

  1. I’m no longer a theist, but I can appreciate your emphasis here on the goodness of the ordinary. Saints and other elevated humans can be a great distraction from the simple goodness of everyday life.

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