Our extraordinary story


In order to tell a good story, a novelist has to be a keen observer of people.

I, in fact, hardly ever read novels because one ordinary day in Manhattan is more riveting than the greatest of romance or adventure books. It is just a matter of observing carefully. A maxim, said one way or another, holds that everyone has a photographic memory, but few have the film.

The Ordinary Time of the Church's year follows upon the most extraordinary account of the Magi. They are honored as Wise Men because that is a harder thing to be than Smart Men. They observed the stars with their minds, but they then acted upon what they had seen, and that brought them to Christ. Then they went back to their own country. The novelist said "You can't go home again." And it is true that time takes its toll, and those who once were at table are no longer there, but "if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). After the romance of the Magi's caravans and glittering gifts, their going back home would seem a disappointing end for a novel, but that very ordinary conclusion was even more wonderful than their journey, for they went home "by another way" (Matthew 2:12). They were changed by what they had worshiped. That is the secret to the extraordinary in the ordinary. St. Matthew does not say that they stared at the Holy Child like another specimen in their encyclopedia of curiosities. Prosekunesan means that they fell down before Him in adoration.

As a man, this Infant will say that wildflowers in their ordinary array are more splendid than Solomon in all his glory. That is how our Creator observes us, and He can enter our intellect and will by sanctifying grace. So the most ordinary people can be more heroic than any character in a novel: "When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you visit him? You have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8: 4-6).

Real star power is to be found neither in the planets nor in Hollywood. The saints are the stars, and Christians are not mere stargazers, for "the true Light, which lights every man" (John 1:9) is available to all who worship the Author who has given each of us a life more extraordinary than any novel.

"I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and my soul knows very well" (Psalm 139:14).




Father George William Rutler. "Our extraordinary story." From the Pastor (January 15, 2012).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2012 Father George W. Rutler

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