The Activism of the Ordinary

[ 8 ] December 21, AD 2011 |

One of my heroes had a motto “Do the ordinary things extraordinarily” or something to that effect and gosh darn it if we as a community of Catholics don’t have to remember that. In an age where to be heard is to be successful, we think that to evangelize and promote the Good True and Beautiful, we must go out into the world and make some noise. We must have rallies, flash-mobs, concerts, talks, Youth Days, protests, yardsign campaigns, etc. etc etc. We must constantly be getting the message out there that this is true and that isn’t. This is what we stand for and That is what we stand against. We must enter the political arena, we must enter the blogosphere, we must enter the music industry, we must invade the realms of art, architecture, literature and science. We must form independent schools that teach the Truth. We must, in short, do.

Do I condemn these practices? No. What I wish to point out is that just because something is a good, it is not everyone’s responsibility to see to that good. I have not covered all the goods that Catholics can do in my long ramble about activism. Not nearly everything. I have however given a pretty comprehensive list of what is expected of faithful Catholics by other faithful Catholics in this time of secularization and atheistic materialism. I want to delve into whether this is a good expectation or whether it is, in fact, harmful.

Disclaimer: I am very much an activist and a revolutionary. I like protests, inspiring rallies etc. etc. etc. I am that type of person. However, I have noticed, as I hinted, that there is a trend among Catholics to say to one another “Oh, you’re not participating in the Mass for Peace that we’re having? Why not?” Which in essence means “Don’t you care? Do you like war or something?” Or, “You don’t go to the March for Life? Why not?” Which in essence means “Don’t you care enough about the cause of the unborn to sacrifice a little bit of your time to march on Washington?” Both these responses are wrongheaded because they don’t take into account on individual paths to holiness and evangelization. While one may be called to call out over a loud-speaker that our politicians don’t care about the rights of the unborn and that we have to let them know how we really feel, another may be called to  wash his socks in reparation for the sins of humanity. I’m serious.

We forget that our normal everyday duties are what bring us closer to God. We don’t have to participate in the next rally to support the Cause. It may end up giving us a big head and causing us to think about what great progress we’ve made. We maybe have to humbly stay at home and wash dishes, or change diapers. We may have to, God forbid, vacuum the house! We may have to work our rears off on the 22nd of January or the 22 of April in order to pay the mortgage. We may, in short have normal familial duties that don’t allow us to be the Great Activist of the New Evangelization. And that, my friends, is not a problem.

I see this in myself. I come up with a pet Cause (say, Catholic Education, Distributism, Good Art, what have you) and when I bring it up, I think to myself “Why aren’t they excited about this? Do they not care? Are they just Bad People?” Ok, so that last one doesn’t really happen, but it could. Because I can see it in myself, I can see it in others. We as bloggers certainly usually have a pet Cause whether the Liturgy, Getting Rid of Contraception, Conservative Politics etc. We think it is our duty (and it sometimes is) to spout off on these issues relentlessly and get miffed when we seem to be speaking to a void. But we have to remember that not everyone is called to be blogger. Not everyone is called to be a political analyst. Not everyone is called to be a liturgist or musician or writer. Some folks are just called to have families, raise them the best they can and grow and help their children grow in the love of God, neighbor and self.

And the thing is, this is no less activism than the way we usually think about activism. God is said, by famous theologians over the years, to be perfect Act and that our fallen nature is one of more or less Passiveness. If we are called to activism, this then could mean that we are called to be like God. Some ways of doing this is through “activism” how we normally think of it, but other ways are through, as I said, the normal everyday activities of raising a family. We support the culture of life through supporting our families. We support the promotion of peace by creating a culture of peace, respect and love within our families. We support the proper stewardship of creation through examining the world through the wonder of a child’s eyes. We don’t always need to carry signs and shout slogans. We sometimes need to settle down and live our lives, praying, fasting and giving alms in whatever way we find ourselves called within the context of our families.

You’re right. I’m just telling you that you should be doing something that you aren’t doing and are bad people for not doing it. Call me a hypocrite.

Cheers!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Photo-185-e1313860561659.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Nathaniel Gotcher is a 19 year old architecture student at the University of Notre Dame. His architectural preference is the Gothic and also listens to anonymous 12th Century polyphony. However his listening habits are not merely medieval. He also enjoys Baroque music, 60s Rock and Christian Punk Pop. He is also an avid reader and a part-time philosopher. He is an idealist and also occasionally gives into his monarchist tendencies. He reflects on life at The Third Order and blathers on about important irrelevancies at The American Commoner.[/author_info] [/author]

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Category: Family, Life, Vocations

About the Author ()

is a 20 year old architecture student at the University of Notre Dame. His architectural preference is the Gothic and also listens to anonymous 12th Century polyphony. However his listening habits are not merely medieval. He also enjoys Baroque music, 60s Rock and Christian Punk Pop. He is also an avid reader and a part-time philosopher. He is an idealist and also occasionally gives into his monarchist tendencies. He reflects on life at holyintheworld.blogspot.com and blathers on about important irrelevancies at theamericancommoner.blogspot.com
  • Ink and Quill

    Washing socks for the reparation of humanity? Nah. Sorting and folding a whole basket of white socks… now THAT is penance. =P
    ~Ink

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Nathaniel Gotcher

    Sine dubito, that is the worst. This is why I a) don’t have white socks and b) all my socks are identical.

    But believe me, washing socks can be ordered to Salvation…..:)

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Rachel Howell

    I second how annoying folding socks can be… I certainly hope doing it patiently will take many years off my time in Purgatory! :)

  • Ink and Quill

    Rachel,
    Agreed. With three younger sisters and all four of us in Catholic school for many many years (the SAME school for some time) I discovered the true bane of my existence was having to sort out four different sets of white socks and pray I had them right. I think it’s a penance worthy of offering for the Holy Souls in Purgatory…
    ~Ink

  • Robert Gotcher

    Oh good. We can count on you to sort the socks when you get home.

  • http://thecornerwithaview.blogspot.com Julie Robison

    This is SUCH an awesome post. Great job, Nate!

    Although sorting socks is in a level of Hell as a punishment. I’m positive!

  • http://www.thecatholiccouponer.com Beth Anne @ The Catholic Couponer Blog

    Your SO right! People think b/c you don’t go to “pro life rallies/events” that means your not pro-life. No I am pro-life! I just am not into some of those “rally” things.

  • enness

    Thanks for taking the pressure off…I want to do everything and, when that becomes an overwhelming thought, often end up doing nothing.