“Do the Small Things” Sub-Pages:
Start by Doing What is Necessary…
Small Things Are Not Small
Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could. -St. Gregory Nazianzen
Each moment has so much possibility and so much power. A kind word at the right time, even a smile can change a life forever. A tiny act of love can reverse the course of history. But most of us don’t have the strength to endure focusing on those small things for long. I know I spend a lot of time wallowing around in all that potential!
One thing we do in our family to emphasize this concept of “Small things are not small” is a Lent/Easter tradition. All during Lent, everyone in the family puts a little dry bean in a jar to represent a good deed they did. On Easter morning, all of the beans have been replaced by big colorful jelly beans. It’s a great illustration of how Jesus takes the tiny things we do and makes them into something great and beautiful. Of course the perfect biblical example of this is the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. A little boy brings five loaves and two fish to Jesus, who uses them to feed an enormous crowd. (You can read the whole story beginning at Mark 6:34).
Do the good you are able to do. Expect to plant many small seeds and generally not to know how they turn out in the end.
Also read this: “There is No Such Thing as a Small Act of Love” by Simcha Fisher
A Theology of Littleness
Pope Benedict XVI and G.K. Chesterton are two authors whose writings always seem to “feed” me – they’re uplifting, encouraging, and remind me not to take myself too seriously.
Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, is a book-length interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger by author Peter Seewald dating from 1996…
Q. “Whoever can be as small as this child”, it says in the New Testament in Matthew, “is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
A. The theology of littleness is a basic category of Christianity. After all, the tenor of our faith is that God’s distinctive greatness is revealed precisely in powerlessness. That in the long run, the strength of history is precisely in those who love, which is to say, in a strength that, properly speaking, cannot be measured according to categories of power. So in order to show who he is, God consciously revealed himself in the powerlessness of Nazareth and Golgotha. Thus, it is not the one who can destroy the most who is the most powerful…but, on the contrary, the least power of love is already greater than the greatest power of destruction.
And here are a few related excerpts from G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man…
A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded…
Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars.
It might be suggested, in a somewhat violent image, that nothing had happened in that fold or crack in the great grey hills except that the whole universe had been turned inside out. I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were now turned inward to the smallest.
…it is true in a sense that God who had been only a circumference was seen as a centre; and a centre is infinitely small. It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripical and not centrifugal. The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things.
Pope Benedict, in his great work Jesus of Nazareth, equates “littleness” with “purity of heart” (pgs. 342-343). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2517-2533) expounds on this, but at its essence says “’Pure of heart’ refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.” #2518
“Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3-4). This saying is a particularly compact expression of a whole theology of littleness, of the little ones, and of childhood that we find in Jesus. It ultimately has – like this entire series of words – a christological content pointing to the inner biography of Jesus himself. It is Jesus who became totally small. – Cardinal Ratzinger, Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism
Littleness also implies a certain patience with ourselves, as St. Francis de Sales said “Those who aspire to the pure love of God have not so much need of patience with others as with themselves.”
*The quote from St. John Paul the Great at the top of the page is from his General Audience of April 8, 1992.