So much for going green, I thought.
I’d just parked in front of my house after a long day at the office. The wind had knocked over my neighbor’s recycling bin, strewing pizza boxes and papers across my lawn.
I slammed the car door, marched over to the neighbor’s yard, and grabbed the bin. As I threw the trash back into the container, a gentle command prodded my heart:
Offer it up.
I wondered if my guardian angel had whispered that advice.
“Offer it up?” I silently retorted. “Guardian angel, I’m tired. Couldn’t you just flap your wings and blow away this mess?”
As I snatched a stray candy wrapper from my flower bed, I relented. “Fine,” I muttered. “I offer this up for my neighbor’s son. I know he’s going through a hard time.”
Somehow, the task at hand seemed less annoying. But I wasn’t exactly sure why.
I’d heard the phrase “offer it up” since childhood, and in response, I’d eaten unwanted vegetables, completed algebra assignments and scoured kitchen floors. My tongue was practically scarred from biting back quips when I’d been offended.
Could such mundane gestures have any merit? And if so, how?
“Pick up a pin from a motive of love, and you may thereby convert a soul,” St. Thérèse of Lisieux asserted. “Jesus alone can make our deeds of such worth.”
Known for her “little way” of spirituality, St. Thérèse viewed everyday acts “as a (means) of manifesting her love for God and for others,” writes Father John F. Russell, O.Carm.
St. Thérèse found sacrifice in the simple. “For a long time I had to kneel during meditation near a Sister who could not stop fidgeting,” St. Thérèse recalled in her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul.” “You have no idea how much it annoyed me.”
Rather than “turn around and glare at the culprit,” St. Thérèse chose “to put up with it patiently” and “spent the rest of the time offering it to Jesus.”
St. Paul rejoiced in his many sufferings, which “(completed) what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
But if the dying Christ declared “it is finished” (John 19:30), what more could be accomplished by forbearing with fidgeting or cleaning a messy yard?
“No man can add anything” to the salvation that Christ won for us, St. John Paul II affirmed. However, “in the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has … opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering” (Salvifici Doloris, 24).
So while we can’t increase the value of the redemption, we can share “in Christ’s sufferings — in any part of the world and at any time in history” (Salvifici Doloris, 24). In so doing, we extend the reach of the victory that Christ won for us.
Uniting our pain with Christ’s passion dispels “the sense of the uselessness of suffering,” St. John Paul II observed. “It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls” (Salvifici Doloris, 27).
When we offer up a burden — from an irritation to an agony — we provide “a special support for the powers of good” (Salvifici Doloris, 27).
Just as we recycle discarded items to make new products, we can give our trials to Christ, who refashions them into his “infinite treasure of the world’s redemption” (Salvifici Doloris, 27).
So much for going green after all.
Gina Christian is a writer in Philadelphia and a member of St. William Parish.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: The littlest acts of mercy might be the biggest
NEXT: Christ, and a priest, could help a person past purgatory
I think of two people. My Irish Grandmother and Saint Theresa of Avila.
Love and enjoy your Newsletter….
I’ve followed Archbishop Chaput since he was in Colorado, in fact one time I spoke to him over the phone for guidance, he suggested that I get his book, Render Unto Caesar, and I did … the problem has been my son. Came Christmas I gave it to my son as a gift (after I read it, of course) never heard a command from my son and didn’t expect one.
A very dear friend of mine from my parish gave me a soft cover of Render Unto Caesar the other day, I was so happy cause I did really wanted to have one of my own. Today I forwarded ‘Catholic Philly.com’ to my friend and told her about how I followed Archbishop Chaput for years then suggested to her to subscribe to ‘Catholic Philly.com’
God Bless Archbishop Chaput and our Blessed Mother be always at his side to guide him.
Witty as always. Your writing always makes me chuckle. I needed that after a day of trash strewn all over my life.