“Most of us lead rather unexciting lives. From childhood on, through high school and perhaps through college, we have followed a pretty conventional path. We have settled into a job or profession, sometimes without too much choice in the matter. We have married, bought a home, founded a family and are tied to a routine in which every day is quite like every other day.
‘WE HAVE FOLLOWED A PRETTY CONVENTIONAL PATH’
We are neither rich nor famous. Nothing very thrilling ever happens to us. Life is just a continuing round of work, bill-paying, minor crises and moderate pleasures. We read about other people whose names make the news, people who are doing important things, and we feel vaguely dissatisfied. Our own life seems drab and insignificant by comparison.
‘NOTHING VERY THRILLING EVER HAPPENS TO US’
We can see nothing in our future except more of what we have in our present. We wonder whether we have somehow missed the boat. Perhaps we were meant for greater things than this rut of mediocrity in which we seem to be imprisoned. It is all very discouraging.
‘WE WONDER WHETHER WE HAVE SOMEHOW MISSED THE BOAT’
There are very few of us who wholly escape such jaundiced moments of self-depreciation. They may not occur often, but we do encounter periods when we feel disheartened at what appears to be the pointlessness of our life.
‘WE DO ENCOUNTER PERIODS WHEN WE FEEL DISHEARTENED’
It seems that we need to remind ourselves of our essential importance in God’s scheme of things. Each of us is a key figure in God’s plan; otherwise He would not have created us. And our importance, in God’s eyes, is not to be measured by spectacular achievements, but precisely by the day-to-day fulfilment of the duties which we sometimes find so deadly dull.
GLORY ENOUGH FOR ALL
It is a fruitless undertaking to attempt to evaluate the comparative value of human accomplishments. It does seem obvious, however, that some of the achievements which rate high in news value may be scaled pretty low by God’s standards. The first men to land on the moon will have demonstrated a high degree of courage and of physical stamina, but they will not necessarily have added much to the sum of total human happiness.
ADDING TO THE SUM OF TOTAL HUMAN HAPPINESS
Moreover, there is no man (or woman) who can with honesty preen himself upon the success of his endeavours, whether he be the President of the United States or the world’s greatest artist. He never can say, ‘I did it all by myself.’ Too many other people have had a part in his making.
WE CANNOT TAKE ALL THE CREDIT
His parents have transmitted to him his brains and his talents and have formed his character and implanted ideals. Selfless and dedicated teachers have cultivated his mind and have imparted knowledge. Numberless friends and acquaintances along the way have bestowed encouragement and support.
LIKE A GREAT RIVER IS FORMED BY THE CONFLUENCE OF TRIBUTARY STREAMS…
Like a great river which is formed by the confluence of many tributary streams, a ‘great’ man is the fortunate focus of the contribution of many people. He has added his own bit to the total, unquestionably. He has used his assets well. But he has not arrived at his objective alone and unaided.
NOT ALONE AND UNAIDED
God’s plan for the universe undoubtedly calls periodically for men and women of beyond-average talent and accomplishment. This is true even on the natural level and aside from the heroism of the saints. When such men and women are needed, God can be depended upon to see that they are produced.
However, when it comes to the assignment of merit, God has only one rule: the ultimate glory goes to him who does the best he can with such abilities and opportunities as he possesses, however humble that ‘best’ may be.
A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE
By the usual standards of money, power, romance, fame and success, ours may be a very undistinguished life. Yet, to God and to the final realisation of His plan, ours may be a very important role. We cannot measure or even know the eventual effect of our influence upon our fellows. But we do know that our day-to-day relationships with family, friends, co-workers and even casual acquaintances, can constitute a vocation of a very high order.
The simple kindness and considerateness which we show toward others, may, in the end, be of greater consequence for humanity than the conquest of space.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966