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finding God in the ordinary

…When people tell me that they find Mass boring, I want to say to them: it’s supposed to be boring, or at least seriously underwhelming. It’s a long-term education in becoming un-excited, since only that will enable us to dwell in a quiet bliss which doesn’t abstract from our present or our surroundings or our neighbor, but which increases our attention, our presence, and our appreciation for what is around us…

a quote from James Alison.

On page 861 of the BCP (TEC), the catechism asks:

Q. Is God’s activity limited to these rites?
A. God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.

Is God’s activity limited to these rites – Is God’s activity limited to eucharist and baptism and so on? And the official answer of the church is, “no”. God does not limit himself to these; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.

God does not limit himself to eucharist and baptism and so on; eucharist and baptism and so on are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.

What we do in church is practising for the ordinary everyday lives we live outside of the church service.

In the sixth century Rule of St Benedict (Chapter 31) it says that we should treat everything “as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar”. We should have the same reverence for everything as we have reverence in church for the bread and wine, the chalice and altar. Everything in the world, in our lives, may look ordinary – but everything is shot through with the sacred, with meaning.

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7 thoughts on “finding God in the ordinary”

  1. God’s Grandeur

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

    Pied Beauty

    Glory be to God for dappled things—
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise him.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)

    Dear Fr. Bosco,

    I found very elucidating your post on catholic spirituality as sacramental and incarnational, pointing to and celebrating the immanence of God in all of creation.



    1. Thanks everyone, for the helpful, insightful contributions. Brian, the first quote I only stumbled on recently. The rest of my post is actually adapted from a small segment out of a sermon I preached. In that sermon, you won’t be surprised, I quoted Hopkins’ God’s Grandeur – I was tempted to put that in my post – I’m pleased you’ve added it 🙂

  2. For a moment, I thought you were referring to a Bishop. then I realized that you really meant ordinary. I agree everything is sacred.

  3. Well frankly I think that often the church has become so comfortable with this tradition that it becomes a rote exercise. Yes, as a child I thought services were extremely boring. Only recently, as I have discovered the history of the liturgy, has the Eucharist begun to take on new meaning. Rather that looking at liturgy as old, dead and boring, now I think of the history behind it, I search for the different meanings AND I think about how liturgy can come alive, be new, be different, be relevant to this day and age. But we must continue to engage with the liturgy, to ask questions and to teach others how to engage with it for it to continue the rich tradition. I agree, we should treat everything with reverence but that has to be a conscious practice.

  4. A very wise Bishop I know describes Spirituality as “living the ordinary life with an awareness of God’s presence within us” – quite a beautiful description, I think. The sense of finding God within the ordinary can also mean a deeper faith than some who can only feel ‘spiritual’ in a worship service or when they are feeling good!

  5. Bosco, you just blew my mind. Boredom has been on my mind a lot lately. Sitting with is it terribly difficult.

  6. It’s true that spirit can be found in the most mundane things like gardening, or doing dishes. Spirit is everywhere, all the time – just because WE are not ‘present’ to it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. 🙂

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