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The Duty of the Moment

“Doing the duty of the moment means focusing our whole person – heart, soul, body, emotions, intellect, memory, imagination – on the job at hand!  The duty of the moment done for God is glamorous, exciting, wondrous…..” Catherine Doherty, Grace In Every Season, Madonna House Publications, Combermere, Ontario

Many years ago, when I was a younger mother juggling pregnancies, little children, hospital shifts and all the other aspects of my daily life, I came across the writing of Catherine Doherty,  in particular, her book, Grace in Every Season.  At the time, I was craving spiritual guidance to ground the different areas of my day, direction to make sense of my very full life.  I devoured Catherine’s practical, no-nonsense writing.  Her roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-on-with-it approach resonated with me.  Even in the midst of breast-feeding, meal preparation, and the professional demands of an acute-care unit, I sought out stolen moments where I could read a page or two that would give me clarity and motivation to keep going.

Catherine wrote extensively about the duty of the moment and for a busy, tired mom, her words were powerful.  She reminded me that God’s Will placed me in my bustling home with my husband and children and on the hospital unit where I worked part-time.  It was in my ordinary life that He wanted me to live the Gospel without compromise, by attending to the duty of the moment.  He called me to do each task well because it was in paying attention to the little details wholeheartedly that I served him best.  Amongst the diapers, potty training and carpooling, I was called to serve.  In the indescribable surge of maternal love as I held my newborns for the first time and never wanted to let them go, I lived His Will for me.  In my professional, compassionate approach to suffering patients and distraught families, I served God.

Life moves on.  As the children become older and the events of family life change, the duty of the moment evolves, but at the same time remains the same.  What is required of me changes as my children become more independent.   I am present to them in a different way than when they were babies, toddlers and young children.  As a working mom, everything from the care I give my patients to the mundane paper work and bookkeeping call me to continuous Gospel living in the duties of my work.

The duty of the moment, that which God expects of us in our present state of life, is different for everyone.  The priest and the single, lay person; the older widow, and the little child; the father of a family; all are admonished to live the Gospel differently than I am, but for all of us, living the Gospel is central and prayer is the root from which our lives unfold.  In whatever our day consists and wherever we find ourselves, living the Gospel without compromise means performing our duties well.  Catherine continues to teach us that “every task, routine or not, is of redeeming, supernatural value because we are united with Christ.”


Terry McDermott blogs at http://8kidsandabusiness.wordpress.com.  She has been married for 27 years to a man of great integrity and is the proud, tired mom of 6 young men and 2 beautiful young women, ages 24 – 10. She enjoys being her parish’s First Communion catechist. She is a Registered Nurse and a nurse-entrepreneur owner of a nursing foot care business.  St. Joseph, St. Therese, St. Gianna, St. Monica and St. Camillus de Lellis are her go-to saints, along with Our Blessed Mother. She tries to live a life centered on the Gospel through prayer and service. In all things, she strives to be grateful to God and reminds herself daily that “everything is grace” (St.Therese).


  • Christi D.

    Wisdom indeed! Thanks for the reminder – I needed to read this today!