Here is something that I find heartening, and very telling, about the whole organic food movement. It seems to me that the organic food movement is a secular, concrete and very natural manifestation for our modern society’s hunger for harmony. We’re waking up to the damage we’ve done to our bodies and our social fabric through the over industrialized, quick profit-driven, pesticide-ridden, faceless corporation of agribusiness. Something in us, in many of us, is telling us to turn back to the harmony that our bodies and communities once knew, or perhaps better said, turning us forward towards a greater harmony than we now know, than we have ever known.
To me, this hunger for harmony is one those signs “written on our hearts.” We can’t just forget it or ignore it. The inner pull is persistent. It’s one small piece of the trail of bread crumbs that God has laid out for us, to lead us slowly back to His loving arms.
I have often heard a favorite spiritual teacher of mine, Fr Joseph Kentenich, talk about this harmony as holiness, the holiness of “the other six days, when humdrum occupations are upon us and we are engrossed in our usual daily work.” And not just any holiness, but the very kind of holiness that our world needs today, that very kind of holiness which means, simply, joy. He described it as the “divinely willed harmony between wholehearted attachment to God, to work, and to our fellowman in every circumstance of life.**” He said the person who lives out this type of holiness every day we could call the “everyday saint.”
The everyday saint “considers the natural and supernatural life not as two separate worlds but sees both as one organic whole.” There are not two separate worlds! There is not church and non-church, weekdays and Sunday, Christian bubbles and secular spheres, mind separate from heart separate from body. Rather, for the everyday saint, the organic saint if you will, “nature is the foundation and basis of supernature, he uses all creation to lead him heavenwards, for nature is a bridge and pointer to God.”
To really believe and understand this changes everything. If nature is the basis and foundation of everything supernatural, if we understand that nature is elevated by grace, that nature and grace are meant for a completely harmonious union – then the way we interact with nature, with others, with the world, with our selves, would change. We wouldn’t mistreat or devalue creation. We wouldn’t hate on our bodies or physical nature and drives (overly devaluing nature) or run away into esoteric superficial spiritualism (overly devaluing the supernatural). We would see that both nature and the supernatural are meant for perfect harmony in God. That when we submit our nature to God, He fills our souls and brings mind, heart, body and spirit into a fullness that we could never know otherwise.
What changes could that mean in daily life? What might that look like? Fr Kentenich continues:
“Whenever [the everyday saint] sees the will of God expressed in his life, he puts it into practice, and in every observation and experience of life he raises his eyes to heaven in order to learn the will of God. His thoughts, desires and deeds are in harmony. Therefore he is a true artist and master of life, a rare gift of God to the present age. “One teacher of life,” said Master Eckehardt, “is better than a thousand lecturers.”
In every experience of life he raises his eyes to heaven! How often during the day do I raise my eyes to heaven?? Do I open my heart to let God even be a part of my daily life? What might that feel like, what might that look like? “Our joys and sorrows, our work and recreation, our prayer and speech, our comings and goings — all things are done extraordinarily well out of love, i.e., in a saintly manner.”
And a true artist of life! Not a cold person who lives a removed, exclusive, elitist or purely intellectual idea of holiness – an artist of life! Something else Fr Kentenich once said – the most supernatural person must be the most natural! The most holy must also be the most natural. The most in touch with LIFE! Now that’s an organic saint!
Here is one small but efficacious practice I’ve adopted in my own personal study and growth towards realizing this harmony in my life: praying in the car. It’s simple, but revolutionizing in a gradual way. In my “comings and goings,” whenever I get in the car I pray a few short prayers. Nothing fancy, just a few Hail Mary’s or something like that. I consecrate wherever I’m going to God, or wherever I’ve just been, the people I’ve talked to or the people I’m going to meet. I can’t tell you how such a little thing, this small moment of intentional openness to God, makes such a huge difference. It naturally reorients my body, mind and heart back towards the harmony that my soul craves, that all souls crave. The daily humdrum of natural life is lifted into the reality of the supernatural love that is always surrounding me, surrounding each one of us.
Dear Blessed Mother, you more than any other can teach us to live this way. You know the harmony our hearts desire! Let us lift our eyes to heaven, and continue to follow this trail of breadcrumbs, reading the signs of our inner longings and the world around us, into a deeper harmony of a life lived with God. Amen.
** All quotes from page 1 of Everyday Sanctity, a collection of talks from retreats given by Fr Kentenich in the early 1930s in Germany