"Religion" is a much discussed subject in recent times - frequently for all the wrong reasons. The result is division and hate amongst people to the neglect of the good constantly being achieved in its name. I would like to single out the World Day of Youth, the Holy Father's Encyclical on "God is Love" as more recent events reflecting the ever present benefits being achieved by Families and Individuals throughout the world in the name of God.

They all bear witness to how much the ordinary is quite extraordinary. Pope Benedict XV1, in the short time that he has exercised Supreme Authority, has already impressed with his quiet diplomacy and down to earth contact with people, particularly the youth. Constantly drawing on the example of earlier witnesses of the Faith. he continues to remind people of their Christian heritage. Two such witnesses come readily to mind -

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recently declared Blessed, and St. Therese of Lizieux. They both bear witness to how much the ordinary is quiet extraordinary. Mother Teresa started in a very simple way gathering some Sisters around her to care for the poor, the sick, especially the dying. She and her sisters could offer most of these people no hope of extra life. She offered them the greatest gift of all, namely, the gift of love and compassion.

The ordinary gift of love made a powerful impact on the people themselves, on the country of India and on the world at large. She certainly brought them the love of Christ and at the same time saw Christ in each sick, poor and dying person. How truly she lived the gospel. Henri Nouwen put it in these words -"When the Christ in me needs the Christ in you, the ground between us is holy ground".

St. Therese didn'€™t do anything extraordinary but tried to do the many ordinary things of life extraordinarily. Like Mother Teresa, what enriched those ordinary actions was the love she put into them. She offered her life to God with great love. She offered her life lovingly also for the Church. The Church in australia recognised the value of her ordinary life by making her one of australia'€™s Patron Saints. Although St. Therese died at the age of 24 without stepping outside of Carmel, the Church affirmed the profound effect of her ordinary life well beyond the walls of the Monastery.

Family Life also highlights the value of the ordinary. It is generally in ordinary ways that members of families love one another. Mostly, families live out their lives doing ordinary things, yet families have a powerful influence on one another and on the development and qualities of the children. In one of their frequent exhortations for stronger family ties, the Australian Bishops challenged all families to make the most of the family meal. The power for the good of the family meal, especially on the children, can never be over-estimated. The family meal is a special time to bond together, to listen to one another and brief though it may be, to pray together.

What has given this value-added quality to Mother Teresa, St. Therese and to families? No action of any Christian, however simple and small, can ever be ordinary now, because it is done for Christ. No person can be ordinary having been created in God'€™s image and identified with and united to Jesus. It is Jesus Christ who gives added value to the Saints and to every person and action we perform.

Bp Justin Bianchini