The Holiness of Ordinary People


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"There are some people whom God takes and sets apart," observes Venerable Madeleine Delbrêl (1904–1964), but "there are others whom he leaves in the masses and whom he does not withdraw from the world. These are people who do ordinary jobs, who have an ordinary household or an ordinary single life. . . . We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our might that this street, that this world where God has placed us, is, for us, the site of our holiness."

French poet, social worker, and lay missionary Madeleine Delbrêl knew that Christ's unspeakable goodness touches the smallest, most forgotten corners of our everyday world—the laundry, the checkout counter, the commute. His word shines before us "while we walk in the street, while we do our work, while we peel our vegetables, while we wait for a phone call, while we sweep our floors. We see it glow between two of our neighbor's sentences and between two letters to write, when we wake up and when we go to sleep." Yet prayer alone gives us the eyes to see it.

This book gathers together essays and notes written by Delbrêl during her most active years, giving peerless insights into the distinctive lay vocation in the Church. All men and women—married and unmarried—must follow the Holy Spirit into all that is true in this world, from the small talk around the coffeepot to the great silence of the Holy Eucharist.

"The holy Church expects saints," she tells us, "and saints are those who love."

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