Ordinary Tasks Are Perhaps Not So Ordinary!
What does my Faith mean to me? This is a question that I don’t think I could have answered until just a few years ago. How is it possible that over 50 years into practicing my Faith, I was unable to easily articulate an answer? For so long, I considered myself too busy with my family, career, and other responsibilities to see myself as someone who was living a faith-filled life. While I was not sitting still praying the Rosary, performing great works of charity, or participating in committees at the Parish, through my Faith, I have gained the perspective that my life was, and is, marked by performing daily Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
This perspective was gleaned from one particular homily a few years ago and was the catalyst for a seismic shift in how I view my life and daily tasks. It shed great light and planted new seeds of self-respect in my work and life as a mother, wife, public-school teacher, daughter, sister, niece, and daughter-in-law. Thank you, Father Thomas Fusco, for opening my eyes to the holy nature of what often felt simply like the daily grind of life.
Never before had I considered that cooking dinner for 6 every night, was, in fact, feeding the hungry. The nature and goodness of the act, feeding the hungry, is in no way diminished because those hungry people were mine to feed! I had long admired the men and women out working in the food pantry and soup kitchens, thinking that theirs was the true work of God, and mine less so because I was “only” serving my family. Along with those meals feeding the hungry were the drinks provided, dishes washed, lunch boxes made, and snacks packed. My work as a mother was exhausting and fulfilling, but once I understood and acknowledged the Holy nature of my work, I treated this often times droll work with new dignity.
Facing her final days, my Aunt Grace asked me to accompany and assist her in her death at home. Our final visits were filled with many conversations as her beautiful portrait of Jesus overlooked her bed. On her final night, as she grappled with death throes and I literally wrestled to keep her up on her bed, I understood that this was a work of Mercy. I knew that Jesus called me to visit the sick and that I would soon bury the dead. Why is this realization important? Because it gives me space to let go of the disappointment I felt towards the rest of my siblings who were unavailable and unconcerned with my aunt’s reality. My Faith and understanding of my place in Jesus’ plan transformed those human, ugly feelings into gratitude to God for the strength to be present for her at that most critical time.
As a high school English teacher for NYC students who have been remote all year, Spiritual Works of Mercy are the most important tasks not noted in my job description. While my day is spent instructing (chapter 11 of The Catcher in the Rye today!), more time than ever has been devoted to counseling and comforting uneasy adolescents. I take my job teaching English content seriously while being mindful of Jesus’ call to be a source of light, optimism, and hope for 160 special people.
My life has been a busy one marked by years of simple acts of service to my family, my students, and my community. My Faith is what opened my eyes to see that these simple acts are, in fact, extraordinary. Please join our community on March 11 as we celebrate the lives of women of our parish, some of whom, like me, lead lives of extraordinary simple service.
– Virginia Coyne, Parishioner