world without event

Today is the feast of St. Alfonso Rodríguez, a Jesuit lay brother, who died after being the porter of the Jesuit College in Majorca for forty-five years.

I’m not sure if I could be a porter – and probably not for forty-five years. It seems so boring. the only challenges would probably be the beggar coming for help.

But in “the years and years” that went “by of world without event,” Alfonso lived in God’s love.

He inspired the young men who were in the college and became the spiritual director of not a few of them, including St. Pedro Claver who went to the New World and became the “slave of the slaves,” a life much more interesting than Alfonso’s.

Yet both of them saw the hand of God in the daily events of life, in the little details – Alfonso opening the door and greeting the visitors as well as attending to the young Jesuits, Pedro going down into the hold of the slave ships and bringing them medicine, food, lemons, and brandy.

Sometimes we want to do tremendous deeds that get recognized by the world (and by God, of course). But in the little things we find God and can respond to God’s call.

I think of the couple I know who care for their child with Downs syndrome, of the young man here in Honduras who cares for his grandmother and his aunt with Parkinson, and of so many who find God in the little things of life.

They seem to live in worlds without special events, but they find holiness – and challenges – in the daily deeds that call them to love.

Yet God (that hews mountains and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crown career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

“In Honour of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez”
by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

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