Is anyone not fired up about how to love and serve our neighbors after these past few weeks? It doesn’t matter which political leaning you have, I’m certain that you are worked up. And if you’re a regular Mass-going Catholic, then you also heard the Beatitudes proclaimed at Mass on Sunday, much like a huge nudge from the Holy Spirit to “wake up already and LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE AND SERVICE.”
Our pastor told us that “the thing about the Beatitudes is that you’ve got to do them.” (Imagine this spoken with a British accent. Our priests are all from England. The words sound much better in a British accent.)
Of course we do. Living the Beatitudes is about being holy as Christ is holy. The Beatitudes aren’t quite as simple as “don’t kill”. Nope. We have to put our hearts and souls into the Beatitudes (which we really ought to be doing with the Ten Commandments, also. . .). Be pure of heart. Comfort the mourning. Seek goodness and righteousness. Be a peacemaker.
Get out there and love.
Now I’m going to tell you that “getting out there” does not have to be “out there” where everyone else is at the airports, in the streets, and on social media, raising fists about political and social problems.
I cannot solve the refugee crisis, the injustices in our school systems, the problem of homeless veterans in our nation’s cities, or end hunger.
No, I cannot make a noticeable difference on my own for any these problems. It doesn’t happen to be what I am called to, since my vocation is primarily in the home. Home is my mission-field. Home is where I can love, every minute of every day, to the best of my ability, and make a difference in my corner of the world.
In my home, my mission-field, I must spread love and joy first, and then reach out to my other neighbors. This is how I believe change begins. This is where peace begins. Living the Beatitudes starts here, in my kitchen. I feed the hungry, I comfort the mourning, I work for peace among my children. We learn about Jesus’ call to love our neighbors, and we reach out to our neighbors in our town. We write letters to aging neighbors we haven’t seen in years since moving, we call relatives, and we write letters to children we sponsor in Mexico, Kenya, and India.
My husband and I pray nightly with our children, thanking God for our gifts and asking for the courage and generosity to reach out to those in need. We bring care packages for the homeless with us when running errands. We look people in the eye and offer kind words and a smile.
It continues all day and night, as I spent last night awake much of the night, soothing my sick toddler and wiping his nose. I prayed through the sleepless hours, offering for friends and family, for the refugees, for our leaders.
Every single moment of every single day, God calls me to love. If I fail to love my children, what will they have gained as a foundation in these years at home? If my husband and I fail to share love and God’s Truth with them at home, they will not have it to spread in the world as they grow up.
When I asked friends for more ideas of small acts of love, the response was great. Here I have collected them for you, and keep scrolling for a few free printables to use in your home.
- Spend each day connecting with God in prayer. True and lasting peace comes from God alone, and we must center ourselves in His love and His will before we hope to work for peace in our homes and community.
- Set a timer for specific times to pray, such as 3pm for the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
- Smile more at our children and spouses.
- Give hugs.
- Call, text, or email a family member or friend–every day.
- Send cards, photos, children’s artwork to friends and family.
- Look people in the eye, and smile.
- Greet cashiers and other people in service with kindness.
- Have a conversation with people in line.
- Sacrifice your lunch money for a homeless person. Offer your hunger pangs for that person.
- When offering something to the homeless, greet them and look them in the eye.
- Find a charity you can support all year long. Make your choice one that does good for the homeless, the hungry, the orphans, the pregnant mothers in crises, the refugees.
- Pray daily for a different group of people in need. Offer up annoyances and struggles of the day for that group.
- Stop in a church to pray.
- Drive patiently.
- Pray over your children each night.
- Send flowers to a family member or friend, just because.
- Hold the door for others.
- Offer to help carry bags.
- Fast and pray. Even small fasts, like not re-warming your coffee when it gets cold, can be offered with a heartfelt prayer for someone.
- Be extra kind to anyone we meet throughout the day.
- Pick up trash and keep the environment around you beautiful.
- Give compliments.
- Share affirmations with others. Build them up.
- Love your husbands! (and wives, for the men reading) Very often we focus on jobs and children and leave our spouses for last. Giving spouses priority builds a strong marriage and strong marriages are a gift to children and the world.
- Daily write a Bible verse and leave out for your family to see.
- Write love notes.
- Be on the lookout for ways to help a stranger while out and about. Say a prayer for the person you’ve helped.
- Work at being patient and calm around others. Take a deep breath before reacting and responding in tough situations.
- Offer to sit with an Alzheimer’s patient (or other person in need) to give their caregiver a break.
- Bring a meal to a family with a new baby.
- Welcome new neighbors.
- Invite people over for dinner, or for brunch after Mass.
- Thank people.
- Take food to the food bank.
- Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen.
- Pray for our government leaders.
- Forgive someone.
- Set the mood for kindness. Extend grace to others in place of an impatient, frustrated sigh or grumble.
- Take care of yourself–if our health suffers (mentally, physically, spiritually), so does our ability to love our families and set an example for them. Remember that second part to the Greatest Commandment? “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. We cannot neglect our basic needs and hope to change the world around us. Even Jesus rested.
True love–the kind of love that seeks the genuine good for others, the kind of love that seeks to serve selflessly–is universal. Love shared in our homes and in our communities will spread. When we each begin to serve more, forgive more, love more, we will see change happen. Let’s begin.
Click here for a calendar printable with groups of suffering people to pray for, click here for three pages of printables you can cut and put in a jar or basket. Each has extra space for adding your own groups or names.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.