The Duty of the Moment

February 4, 2016

I’m a dreamer. I have more plans and ideas than I can possibly execute. Ideas for apostolates, books, essays, blog posts, hobbies I want to pursue, and so much more. And I dream big. I read the writings of the saints who did heroic things, who wanted to conquer the world for Jesus Christ, and who set the world on fire with the love of God—and I want to do this as well.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with dreaming big. The apostles did. The martyrs did. The saints did. But there is a hidden danger in dreaming so big that we miss the often silent, subtle, and just as heroic duty of the present moment.

When one’s head is filled with grand plans, no matter how worthy, it is easy to think that the little things do not matter. But the constant witness of countless saints—such as St. Francis de Sales, St. Raphael Arnaiz Baron, St. Josemaria Escriva, and many more—is that heroism is very often found in the ordinary and mundane tasks that we would rather ignore.

The Will of God

Have you ever seen those “I’d rather be…” bumper stickers? I’d rather be fishing. I’d rather be flying. I’d rather be skiing. These stickers may be harmless, but the reveal a deep discontent with ordinary life. Souls are filled with what Thoreau described as a “quiet desperation.”  I have also seen a bumper sticker that is actually quite good: “I’d rather be right here.”

Heroic sanctity is all about fulfilling the will of God, especially when it is difficult and contrary to our nature. And honestly, ordinary life can be hard. It can be boring, tedious, and frustrating—most especially when we’d rather be doing something big or extraordinary or fun.

But it is exactly this banality that God often asks of us, and if we don’t embrace it with all the zeal of a saint, our Lord will never entrust us with anything greater or more significant.

Faithful over a Little

The report at work. The flat tire. The bills. The dirty diaper. Taxes. The traffic jam. The annoying and rude person. Screaming kids. Loneliness. Boredom.

All of these things are the little duties that God requires of us. They are his will, and we must embrace them as such, not grudgingly, but with zeal and love. This is the science of the saints. In this is holiness found.

God may exalt you in due time and fulfill your grand schemes. Then again, he may not. His glory, not yours, is the object, and he knows best how to put you to use. But remember this: If you never do anything in life but embrace the will of God revealed in the small and hidden duty of the moment, you can still be a saint, and a very great saint.

One day, the hidden things, the secret things will be made known to all. And in that moment, we will see that, if they were done for love, they were not so small or insignificant after all.

Sam Guzman


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Reader Interactions


  1. Mike says

    Acedia is such a modern problem with the constant distractions with which we are bombarded, and most are not even aware the difficulty in overcoming it. Thanks for the great article.

  2. henryjdaniels says

    Great Post. I have a calling to pray for some people and I go “why Lord I want to ‘Do something’ ! ” and I can lose perspective. This is a Keeper Post to hit that Little Reset button in our heads

  3. Peter Jensen says

    One of our parish priests likes to remind us that Jesus was a regular guy, just like us. He was the carpenter’s son who grew up with us. Who does he think he is telling us all of this stuff? He made the regular stuff holy: the water that he was baptized in, the wine that we drink, the bread and the fish that we eat. It’s just regular stuff, but it’s from God. Our priest tells us to expect to encounter Jesus in the regular stuff and people of life, like in each other. I read that Mother Seton said that we should do the will of God every day, and be happy doing it. Thank you for the reminder, Sam

  4. Steve says

    Needed so much to hear this today, to brush away the paralyzing dreams of greatness and to find the will (and courage!) to take hold of the duties at hand and just “get on with it.” I was struck and moved by your phrase, that we must embrace the seeming banality “with all the zeal of a saint.” I’ll be getting on with things now (at least for today)… Thanks brother!

  5. Robert says

    I just heard about this website last evening on EWTN and have enjoyed reading this post. I woke up this morning feeling a bit out of sorts thinking of a few issues my wife and I are facing right now; a disagreement between our son and daughter, an unexpected medical bill, a problem with an area of siding on the house that will need replacing and few other challenges with our jobs. But after a few moments of prayer I understood this is where God has me (and my wife) today and to your point; “All of these things are the little duties that God requires of us”, so thank you. I look forward to new posts from you and I appreciate the sharing of others here.

  6. Matthew says

    I am often consoled by the thought that the God of all creation willed to become flesh and dwell in mundane obscurity for most of his earthly life. Indeed, he sanctified all of it and bestowed upon it infinite value! Thank you for the enriching thoughts, Mr. Guzman.

  7. Leo says

    The present moment. It can affect your eternity; or it can be drowned out by the infinity of ever-passing moments. Routine tasks like brushing your teeth, and saying your prayers well.

  8. Dean says

    Indeed, our mundane duties are part of our calling. It may actually be easier to manage ourselves when the stakes are higher. For example, it may be easier to summon the necessary courage to act rightly in a disaster than it is to muster the gumption to take out the trash so other people in the house have to smell it all day.

    While we have an obligation to accept the work of the moment, even if that is waiting in a traffic jam, with grace, we don’t have to surrender to needless modern distractions or to go through life not planning for efficiency. We may have to wait in traffic jams, but we aren’t under any obligation to make one more run to the mall, for example.

    The truth is that by planning and setting the right priorities, we can reduce or eliminate a lot of the more unpleasant moments of life, and that planning is also a duty we must discharge.


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