Encouragement from Chaput on Daily Life

Encouragement from Chaput on Daily Life August 7, 2014

Recently, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, offered this address at a “Faith in the Public Square” symposium.  Far from being a lofty, academic, theoretical piece (which have a place and can certainly encourage as well), I found his comments to be poignantly practical and encouraging for even the mundane moments of my daily life.  I found his quote of Pope Benedict’s depiction of the original Benedictines to be particularly inspiring; I think of St. Benedict as a titan of a Saint: a hero of faith, builder of lives, and a preserver of peace and culture in his time.   Chaput quotes Pope Benedict XVI to say that for the original Benedict and his monks:

“Their motivation was much more basic. Their goal was: quaerere Deum [to seek God]. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential—to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. . . . What gave Europe’s culture its foundation—the search for God and the readiness to listen to him—remains today the basis of any genuine culture.”  ~Archbishop Charles Chaput, “How Christians Can Rebuild Our Culture”


So much of my day is devoted to the essential.  My days are not glamorous, exciting, novel or brilliant with originality.   I am not disparaging of originality or adventure; in fact, I am an admirer of both, provided they are directed toward goodness.  But, there was a time when I believed that in order to help change the world, my life had to be a glamorous, novel one, filled with originality and productivity.  Even still, I have days where I marvel that Our Lord spent 33 years of his life in relative anonymity as a carpenter.  Surely, there were more important places and ways for the Son of God to spend his time?  Surely, my life would have more power and meaning if I didn’t spend so much time cleaning, changing diapers, cooking meals, sitting in traffic, right?  Chaput argues that, “It’s in seeking Jesus Christ with all our hearts that culture is built and society is renewed. It’s in prayer, the sacraments, changing diapers, balancing budgets, preaching homilies, loving a spouse, forgiving and seeking forgiveness—all in the spirit of charity—that, brick by brick, we bring about the kingdom of God….”The Kingdom of God comes by way of a listening heart.”


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  • Katrina

    Beautiful, Queen B, and just what I needed this morning, thank you!
    Sometimes, when we look at the huge crises in our culture today, it is easy to feel like our role in healing society is so minimal, or like we can’t have any impact at all. This is so far from the truth, though – we know that one of the greatest ways to change our culture is to first change hearts. This is what the saints throughout the ages have always said, and it is still true today. Yes, we must also work at the macro level to make our legislation just and fair; however, what we are doing on a micro level is just as important, and it is what God has called us to at this moment in time as mothers of young children.
    I love the quote from Archbishop Chaput about the Benedictines: “They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential…” We can all relate to this, I’m sure! So often, we see how easy it is to get tangled up in the inessential, and we see others trapped by the inessential. The quest to go from what doesn’t matter to what really matters is a beautiful thing!

  • J’

    Agree, this is wonderful. Simple, beautiful reflection, and what I needed as well (and what I’ll need in the future too). I find myself butting my head up against all of this a lot. Thank goodness for God’s patience.