The early Christians made love the essence of holiness, and practicing it in community meant there were almost unlimited ways to express love to others: gestures, facial expressions, simple acts of charity–what Brother Lawrence would later call “little things for God.” And with the dawn of each new day, they had the opportunity to do it all over again.
It is no accident that the longest season in the Christian Year is Ordinary Time. It is the way we remind ourselves that the measure of our love is seen in how we speak and act toward one another every day. In terms of holiness, Brother Lawrence said he came to the place where removing a stick from the path so someone did not trip over it was as much a sacred act as receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
The way of love is not limited to the prayer room. Its presence–or absence–is evaluated by what happens in the Board room and the back room. Love is verified not only in our worship, but also in our work.
The holiness of love is made real in the ordinariness of our lives because that is how we live most of the time. The reality of love is determined here…and…now, because this where we live all the time.
In the deserts of early Christianity, all the virtues were defined and tested in relation to simplicity, because in the desert we are stripped of ornateness, complexity, and showmanship. To be a loving person was to be so imperceptibly most of the time. Still today, we love truly by living simply, and the simplest way we can do that is to love the next person we meet, and to love the person without knowing anything about him/her that would become a temptation to qualify our love.