affectionate-couple-335One of my favorite quotes from St. Augustine  is not all that well known. Here it is in Latin and then my own translation:

  • Quod Minimum, minimum est,
  • Sed in minimo fidelem esse,
  • magnum est.
  • St. Augustine – De Doctrina Christiana, IV,35
  •  
  • What is a little thing,  is (just) a little thing.
  • But to be faithful in a little thing
  • is a great thing.
  •  

I first saw this quote on the frontispiece of a book by Adrian Fortescue et al. describing the intricate details of celebrating the Old Latin Mass. That form of the Mass has an enormous amount of detail to learn. Things like how exactly to hold the hands, when and how to bow, what tone of voice to use, what fingers should be used to pick up the host, and on and on. Some might see these details as overwhelming and picky. But as the quote above states and  Fortescue apparently wanted us to think, love is often shown in reverence for the little things.

It’s so easy to become lazy, even about sacred things like saying Mass. I often have to remind myself about little things like the condition of my shoes. Are my vestments clean? How about the altar linens, are they properly cared for? Do I bow and pause at Mass when I should. How is my tone of voice? Do I walk reverently in the sanctuary? Am I careful to pronounce the sacred words of the liturgy with care and a prayerful spirit? Some my find such questions tedious and borderline scrupulous. But when you love, little things are often important.

Married couples may also struggle to remember the little things that show love. A kind remark, a simple thank you. Flowers brought home for no particular reason. A simple look. The gift of listening attentively. Cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen. Just a simple reassurance, “I’m glad I married you” or “You’re a great Father to our children.”  Maybe it’s just a quick phone call from or to work saying, “I love you and was thinking about you.”

Just little things. But to be faithful in little things is a great thing. A Gospel comes to mind:

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!  (Matt 25:21)

And Again:

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10).

Little things? Who cares!? God does. Little things are great things to those who love.

This song says, “You must be faithful over a few things to be ruler over many things. Be thou faithful unto death and God will give you a crown of life.” It ends in a rousing chorus: “Well done good and faithful servant, well done!”

7 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    Mary, Mother of God of priests, pray for your consecrated sons, that they might do all things in love and in truth.

  2. Paul Hughes says:

    Monsignor,

    That generic photo bank shot is a bust. Only one graf in your post is about marriage, and that photo, of necessity, is too vague and general to be meaningful. Better a collage of “little things” or maybe an awesome, beautiful shot of Mass being celebrated in a small Roman Catholic parish church?

    Best,

    paul hughes

  3. susan s. says:

    Love the quote. Good little lesson. Thank you.
    Don’t like picture too much.
    Great chorus!!!!! :0

    shoot, I give the whole thing an “A”

  4. luzvimindarp says:

    Good day Msgr. Pope, i missed your site and topic for the past few days because i was busy. But i like the little things that is quoted above and it is really true that being faithful to that little thing is the greatest. In fact it just happened to me. I have a little gift which i treasured and that is “faith in God to His church and community” and would you believed how great our God is. It is really awesome..on the last day of filing a certificate of candidacy for president of our land, me, His simple servant and bare from any treasure in life, was able to come to Manila at the last minute to file my candidacy..Application #84 and i was questioned by the comelec officer who endorsed me? I told her a very simple thing…I am coming in the name of my Faith-Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I belong to the Church of the Poor and I am with my Parish Renewal movement in the Basic Ecclesial Community and that is why i applied for this presidentiable position in our country to answer and implement the things that is best for my people..the church of the poor. I am waiting for the notice and defend my stand when the time comes. Please do pray for me and my country. Thank you so much Msgr. Pope have a blessed day to all of us..servant of the Living God., may His love remain always with us all.

  5. Cynthia BC says:

    Once many years ago I was at a Mass in which the priest zipped through the Eucharistic liturgy so fast my head spun! I was mentally on “…broke it, and…” while HE was lifting the cup and “..thusdoinremembranceofMe.”

  6. Rich says:

    Augustine, is one of those Church Fathers that I can never get enough of. His thoughts are still some of the most relevant to todays life issues. Everytime I read him I am just amazed and in awe of his thought process. If I ever get to heaven I hope I get to meet him.

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