Hey, Fr. Bill, come to the baseball game with us!” “Sorry, I got to work and finish writing this article. The Lugnuts will have to wait.” Some of us have a hard time breaking away from work. Work plays a serious and central role in the lives of most Americans. Thank God, most Americans are able to work. On the practical side, work allows us to feed our families and buy things. Jesus said, “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.” The same could be said of work. Man was not made for work, but work is a gift from God to man. A danger of work is when we become so united to work that our identity is completely caught up in it. If we lose our work, then, we lose ourselves.
Are you “living to work”? Take an Examination of “Work” Conscience 1What is my approach to work? 2 Is there a balance between work, play, prayer, and relationships? 3 Since work takes up a major portion of my life, how do I integrate my faith with my work? 4 What is God asking of me in my work?
There is no question that work is an important part of God’s plan for us. The book of Genesis reminds us that even God worked! What was the point of God’s work? Love. In a wonderful way, God’s work in creation has brought the many forces and creatures together in a system where one depends on the other. Our work can do this, too! It can become the means for us to offer ourselves and our love to the world. Our work can help us grow in self-knowledge as the demands of our work stretch us beyond ourselves. Our work moves us to consider in humility the importance of our roles in the larger picture of things. Our work can help order this world’s resources for the good of all creatures. Our work can ultimately prepare us and others for meeting God. In this sense it is sacramental. Here is the essence of the spirituality of the workplace: integration of faith and work. That is difficult! But spiritual fitness requires us not to be schizophrenic in terms of our faith. We do not just practice our faith on the weekends! The pope encourages us by having us recall that Jesus worked and prayed in anonymity for 30 years. He was in the world working like everyone else. Our faith tells us to make ourselves a sacrifice of praise to God. By offering ourselves well at work, embracing the virtues of honesty, integrity, generosity, and respect, we are uniting ourselves to Christ. These sacrifices are brought to the Lord’s table each week (or even daily for some!) at Mass. This is where integration occurs, when people recognize that their work is related to the Eucharist we celebrate. 3 Ways to Integrate Work with Spreading the Gospel I started out by talking about baseball, and the Lord gave me an idea. If you cannot go to the baseball game because of work, play baseball while you work by making RBIs for God’s Kingdom. • Remember the value of the work you do. Its value is related to the inestimable value of your own being! • Balance work with prayer, leisure, recreation, and relationships. • Integrate your faith with your work through virtuous behavior and recognize the self-offering of work is united to the self-offering of Christ in the Eucharist.