Rod Dreher opens his book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, with this quote from St. Therese of Lisieux: “What matters in life are not great deeds, but great love.”
It is so easy to lose my way when I am constantly surrounded by co-workers, clients and advisors working on “important projects” with “hundreds of millions of dollars” at stake. It is so easy to think what I do is “very important” simply because so many big companies, big banks, big law firms and big industry players are hyper-focused on, and negotiate tooth and nail over, every detail of the project. It is so easy to convince myself that I am doing “great deeds.”
That’s nonsense in every way.
Especially, if I don’t do any of it with “great love.”
“I understand a little the tortures of hell — without God. I have no words to express what I want to say, and yet last Friday — knowingly and willingly I offered to the Sacred Heart to pass even eternity in this terrible suffering, if this would give Him now a little more pleasure — or the love of a single soul.” — Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.
This is what Mother Teresa says to her confessor in a private correspondence after nearly 10 years of experiencing the “dark night of the soul” following the founding of the Missionaries of Charity. If there ever was a person convinced of her being called by God in the modern times, she was that person.
I do not often see this type of unshakable sense of calling around me. And when I see or hear about something like it, though not with the same intensity as Mother Teresa’s, it tends to be about “religious” endeavors — e.g., to attend a seminary, to be a pastor, or to be a missionary (in order of increasing “unshakable-ness” reinforcing yet again certain notion of hierarchy of occupations).
Is this how God intends it?
Or, are there people in “non-religious” or “secular” work who nonetheless possess a type of unshakable sense of calling to such work in the way Mother Teresa did to her work?