Making Our Daily Actions a Form of Prayer

The performance of daily tasks with supernatural bearing undoubtedly constitutes an act of a religious character.

Newsroom (10/08/2021 10:15,Gaudium Press) The gestures, attitudes, dress, and objects used in celebrations form a fundamental part of the Liturgy. Each of them has a specific role in being a “visible sign of the communion between God and men through Christ.”

We can, however, also speak of a liturgy of daily life, liturgy with a small “l” which consists of gestures and attitudes that, without having a religious character, are nevertheless performed with a view to raising the soul to God.

There is nothing more natural than to behave in this elevated manner if we consider that Baptism makes us “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people chosen for God” (1 Pet 2:9) and makes the baptized one “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19).

The dignity of being children of God invites us to “liturgize” our daily lives following the Apostle’s advice: “Whether you eat, drink or do anything else, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).

Our words, tone, attitude, posture, composure, and manner of dressing must respect this dignity at all times, even in our solitude, for indeed we are not temples of the Holy Spirit only at Mass on Sunday…

State and religion in the ancient worship

The notion we have today of Liturgy began with the concept expressed in the Greek word λειτουργία, which meant public service. In classical Greece, as in all the peoples of antiquity, the sense of the supernatural was ingrained in life to the point that there was practically no daily activity disconnected from religion.

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“State and religion were so closely united, that it was not possible to have any idea of a conflict between them, nor even to distinguish them from each other,” writes Fustel de Coulanges.

Thus, for example, “to conclude a peace treaty, a religious ceremony had to be performed”.

Importance of intention in human acts

This principle applies even to the smallest actions in our daily lives. Thus, dressing and combing one’s hair with care and composure desiring to reflect one’s dignity as a Christian becomes a worthy act from a moral point of view.

The same could be said of something as common as washing our hands when it is also done united to the desire to purify ourselves from any stain that may exist in our spirit.

Our Lady gives us an unsurpassable example of the importance of intention in daily acts. At every moment of Her life, She sought to adore God so perfectly that the smallest of Her actions had more merit before the Creator than the sufferings of a martyr.

“She gave more glory to God with the smallest of Her actions, for example, working on the spinning-rod or making a stitch with a needle, than St. Lawrence on the grill with his cruel martyrdom” – explains one of the most celebrated Mariologists, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.

We can imagine Our Lady, in the gentle solitude of the house of Nazareth, preparing a meal for the Child Jesus and Saint Joseph while waiting for their return from work.

Or imagine Mary Most Holy asking St Joseph, during an absence of Her Son, what dish would please Him most for dinner. And, we could continue to conjure up a prodigious sequence of marvelous acts that in their domestic simplicity could have more unction than the most solemn ceremonies.

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Infusing daily actions with faith

In the heart of a Catholic home, good manners and the care taken with everyday gestures can recreate an atmosphere permeated with the beautiful ambiance of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Sometimes saying “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” with the intention of showing our love for others is enough to bring them closer to God.

When the home is pervaded by a constellation of attitudes like these, a kind of unique ceremonial is consolidated, particular to each family, which as a whole ends up constituting a “liturgy” proper to what the Council and St. John Paul II called the “domestic church”.

The performance of daily tasks in the manner of an invisible ritual, the most important element of which is the supernatural imposition with which all the activities are carried out, undoubtedly constitutes an act of a religious character.

When, in this way, daily actions in a family acquire the value of prayer and become a habit, an atmosphere of tranquility and peace, marked by Christian charity, is consolidated in this “domestic church”.

Thus, a particular spirit develops within the family which is unique and “so permeated with religion that when the family goes to church, the predominant notion is not that it is leaving home to go to church”, but of a respectful and harmonious continuity of their home life.

On returning from church, the family is also more Catholic than before it left. Then, when the supreme moment comes for one of its members to receive the last blessing on the way to Heaven, the definitive, respectful, and solemn transition takes place: from the earthly home to the glorious and perfect “church” in which the most beautiful and sublime of liturgies unfolds without ceasing.

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Text extracted, with adaptations, from the magazine Heralds of the Gospel n. 147, August 2015.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

 

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