Ordinary Things

We often use the term ordinary as a way to mark something that doesn’t matter very much. Ordinary things don’t stand out, they don’t attract our attention. We look for things to be special, to be extraordinary.

But for Catholics, ordinary is not something to ignore. As George Weigel wrote in The Truth of Catholicism: Ten Controversies Explored,

In the Catholic imagination, the extraordinary lies just on the far side of the ordinary. Through the ordinary things of this world…God makes himself and his grace available to us in what Catholics call ‘sacraments.’…Inside that distinctive way of looking at things, what the world often things of as ordinary and mundane becomes an experience of the extraordinary and divine.

Water baptizes us into Christ. Bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. Through the ordinary we experience the divine.

Our challenge is to recognize the divine through the ordinary. Not just in the bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Christ, but in all of our everyday experiences. We can experience the transcendent in all sorts of ordinary activities. For some it is through music. For others, nature – the ocean, a river, a mountain. It might be seeing the face of a loved one. The important thing is to be open to the fact that we can experience the divine in everything and everywhere, to allow God to breakthrough our everyday, ordinary lives.

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