I know the featured image doesn’t exactly fit with the theme, but come on, it’s gorgeous!
Anyway, this week I started working as a lifeguard at a local water park. Until Monday, I’d been living the classic armchair philosopher life: spending my days cooking, reading, praying, and taking long walks. I had my whole daily routine laid out, which I fastidiously followed. Wake up at 5:30. Pray Laudes and Prima and the Regina Caeli. Cook breakfast. Etc. Rinse and repeat.
However, starting a job obviously threw all that out the window (or off the water slide, if you will). My first two days of work, I got slammed with double shifts. I was unable to cook. True Devotion to Mary and my daily chunk of the Bible didn’t get read. All I could pray was Prima, Tertia, and the Rosary. I couldn’t even sip my after-dinner tea or call a friend or write a poem. It seemed like this was sounding the death knell for aspirations of growth in the interior life.
But the world’s still turning. And I figured out something important.
We’ve all heard that there’s a “universal call to holiness” for us as Christians. You, me, everyone. Priests and nuns, mothers and fathers, construction workers and baristas. Of course, I had always believed that, but I kind of just swallowed it without really thinking about it or even understanding its significance. Luckily, God used this new job of mine to finally get through to His little daughter, which is no small feat.
On one hand, holiness does entail some parameters. E.g. “Thou shalt not steal.” On the other hand, holiness looks different for different people. Take St. Therese, for example. For her, holiness was found primarily in living the Carmelite Rule, a rigorous, extremely consistent regimen of prayer, fasting, and work. The arduous task of facing whatever trials awaited her in her own interior desert was built into her routine. Now contrast that with St. Paul. He woke up every day not knowing where he’d have to go next, what dangers he’d face, or how many souls God would save through him that day. He was surrounded by the noise and distraction of active missionary life. But both of them became great saints. They were both called to holiness, and the fact that they had to follow different ways to get there was irrelevant.
The same holds true for us. It doesn’t matter what path God chooses to set us on to achieve holiness; it only matters whether we accept the grace He offers along the way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a path of following the full breviary and doing lots of reading and mental prayer and the like, or if it’s simply striving to remain mindful of God’s presence while making sure nobody drowns and collapsing into bed that night grateful for every blessing.