In the morality of my station and duties (i.e., of the moral code) the station presents us with the duty, and we say yes or no, “I will” or “I will not.” We choose between obeying or disobeying a given command. In the morality of challenge of grace, the situation says, “Here is a mess, a crying evil, a need! What can you do about it?” We are asked not to say “Yes” or “No” or “I will” or “I will not,” but to be inventive, to create, to discover something new. The difference between ordinary people and saints is not that saints fulfill the plain duties that ordinary men neglect. The things saints do have not usually occurred to ordinary people at all… “Gracious” conduct is somehow like the work of an artist. It needs imagination and spontaneity. It is not a choice between presented alternatives but the creation of something new.
-Dorothy Sayers, from the essay Problem Picture
What a fabulous passage. Take a moment to read that again if you can.
The saint imitates Christ. But he or she does so not in being imitative, but strikingly original. They are not using a measuring rod to compare their work to others or to derive their work from others. They are hopelessly lost in their subject and it becomes their joy to give themselves to it’s nurture. St. Patrick did not pray on the hill a thousand times in a cold and calculating manner. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did not closely study other hospice programs to hone her methods. These were discovering something new, just like a true artist.