This is a part of a series of meditations on St. Josemaria Escriva's seminal work The Way.
I. Examination of Conscience
III. 1% Better
IV. The Plague of Social Media
V. Artificial Neediness
817. “Great” holiness consists in carrying out the “little” duties of each moment.
818. Great souls pay much attention to little things.
822. […] Are you seriously trying to convince me… that you will be able to win in the supernatural olympics without daily preparation, without training?
– St. Josemaria Escriva
Whether you know it or not, your life is saturated with the superhuman. You probably have watched the Marvel and DC movies of the past decade, weaving tales of supernatural abilities. Your social media feeds are perhaps filled with stories of amazing feats of heroism, kindness or generosity. Or, for that matter, great evil – the superhuman can flow both ways.
Even if you are not a comic book fan, you may find yourself attracted to tales of apparent superhuman feats. The hagiography of the saints, for instance, can appear to be one filled with unnatural displays of virtue and godliness. Yet while God is evident with His working through their lives, it is clear if you read the lives of the saints that these men and women did not stumble into greatness in a single moment.
Instead, what if I told you that this inundation to the “behind the scenes” work is damaging you and sapping your ability to emulate these great things?
So many of us fall directly into the trap St. Josemaria warns us about in his 822nd saying; essentially, we overestimate our abilities. We believe we are stronger or holier than we actually are. We want to believe that if calamity strikes, we will be able to endure it with grace and stoicism. We brush off the daily deeds that make us stronger, smarter, humbler, more virtuous. Why should we pursue them, after all, if we can channel a still dormant inner strength when the time comes?
These people are the most deluded when it comes to personal growth. When the time comes to call on that “hidden strength,” they falter, smacked in the face by the reality of their own weaknesses.
In order to remedy this, it is essential that we pay attention to the little things we can do every day, with regularity, to keep us on the path. Regular prayer, fasting, exercise, sleep, reflection, and deprivation of pleasures is a great thing to do consistently and with great perseverance. If you must converse with your impatient nature, show it the results of continuous improvement. Remind yourself that behind all great men is great labor, great love, great reliance on God.
So what do you do if you want to grow? A few tips:
- Write down and track your goals.
- Create small steps you can do with consistency that enable you to reach your goals.
- Reflect each day on your successes and failures.
- Be grateful for your progress, current station in life, and failures.
This is the surefire way to self-improvement. Do not let yourself be lulled into complacency by superhuman tales; rather, seek to become 1% better each and every day.