Viva Las Vegas - Arwork by Thomas Kinkade
By: Kristin DeSutter
During my internship with an Illinois congressman nearly two summers ago (who happens to be Catholic and has 10 kids, btw :-), I became friends with other congressional interns from across the states - Arizona, Montana, and Pennsylvania - and a Florida intern I became friends with was actually Haitian. One muggy summer evening, he, my roommate Alissa, and I were traversing the historic war monuments when we began discussing how much wealth America has compared to other so many other nations.
"It's funny..." he said, "Most people in Haiti are much poorer than the poor in America - many have no electricity or running water, but they are not bitter - they are happy." My mind flashed back to a film I couldn't forget from several months before, one that had featured African tribal men and women singing and dancing... Yet despite their Pocahontas-style tepees in the background, they had the most radiant smiles and alive spirits I have ever seen.
So I asked my Haitian friend, "Do you think it's because your people don't really realize they are poor?" Maybe for most Haitians, not having iPhones, going to the movies, or traveling was a way of life. Maybe just working hard to harvest their crops and hang out with their family and friends was enough - maybe more than enough - for them.
He was silent for a moment. "I think so... In Haiti, all the poor people live in the valleys, while the rich live in the mountains, so they very rarely see one another. They really don't know what they are missing," he said. "But in America, people see so much wealth around them on TV and in movies, so they can become bitter."
So when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio selected the name "Francis" for his papacy on Wednesday to send a theological and political message in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor, I thought not only of the physical aspect of poverty... But of how fundamental it is to address the spiritual side as well, a poverty that is so prevalent in many of the wealthy Americans and Europeans. And while physical concerns are definitely one of the most critical, pervading issues across the globe, I have a hunch the name "Francis" is a call to address spiritual poverty just as much. Since I graduated from the University of Illinois last May and have had experiences such as my DC days, I know can be quite difficult to deliver (much of) the monetary aspect of Pope Francis' chosen name for not only college students, but also for recent grads, families, and grandparents too.
Yet battling spiritual poverty is a pretty cool call as well, as it is a way to live out our Catholic faith each day by being a resourceful light for Christ - for our family, friends, colleagues, and peers - even the randoms that we run into at the dentist, who really aren't random at all. So in being especially drawn to our new pope's chosen name in terms of spiritual poverty, I remembered an amazing passage I once read from Matthew Kelley's NY Times bestseller, The Rhythm of Life. Even though it starts off a bit depressing... It has a pretty powerful, absolutely awesome ending :-)
An excerpt from The Rhythm of Life - By: Matthew Kelly
A hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau left Concord, Massachusetts, because he believed it had become too noisy, too distracting, and too busy. He went off to Walden Pond to reconnect with himself and with nature. It took him only seven pages in his writings and reflections to conclude, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation."
During my short life, I have had the privilege of traveling in more than fifty countries, and I have seen nothing to make me believe that Thoreau would change his mind today. Most people are not thriving, most people are just surviving, just getting by, just hanging on. It is a rare and pleasant surprise to find someone who is truly thriving.
A friend recently drew my attention to a Time magazine article devoted to the question, "Why is everything getting better?" The article's author used economics as his sole measure and reason for life getting better. His only examination of our lives was economic. We are richer. We have more disposable income. We have more choices at the grocery store. We have more in our retirement accounts. We have more cars, and we can turn them in to the leasing agent every three years and get new ones. ...Is everything getting better? It's a good question, but one that needs to be assessed a little more seriously than solely from the perspective of the economic index of happiness.
Allow me to offer just a few brief thoughts for your consideration. We prescribe more medication for depression in America today than for any other illness. The suicide rate among teens and young adults has increased by 5,000 percent in the last 50 years, and it is becoming more apparent that suicide is directly proportional to wealth. A number of trends are emerging in our modern culture that are telltale signs that all is not well in the hearts and minds of the people. Depression and suicide rates nearing epidemic levels are certainly among them. But another emerging trend worth of our consideration is our modern inability to sustain relationships.
A great purposelessness has descended upon modern civilizations. People at large have lost any sense of the meaning and purpose of life; and without an understanding of our own purpose, there can be no true commitment. Whether that commitment is to marriage, family, study, work, God, relationships, or the simple resolutions of our lives, it will be almost impossible to fulfill without a clear and practical understanding of our purpose. History is full of examples of great men and women, but we must be careful not to confuse greatness with fame or fortune. Fame and fortune are external qualities of a person's life. Greatness is an internal quality of a person's character, which emerges in his or her actions. Some examples that readily come to mind are people like Gandhi, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Jesus.
But most of the people who have developed and mastered this greatness of which we speak are not public figures or celebrities. They are mothers and fathers, teachers and doctors, preachers, rabbis, ministers, priests... They are people from all walks of life who turn their talents, efforts, and energies toward the uplifting of other people. They make a difference in other people's lives. When you meet such a person, you see a certain calm in her eyes and she seems to be unusually happy. She is quietly confident and occupied with a serene satisfaction.
There is no greater satisfaction than laying your head on the pillow at night knowing you have touched another person's life, made his burden lighter, taught her some infinite wisdom, made him laugh, allowed her to cry on your shoulder, lent him an understanding ear... Made a difference.
Make a difference. It is not that hard. Make a habit of making another person's day. Every day.
Do you remember the last time you received an unexpected letter? It was a wonderful experience, wasn't it? Do you remember the feeling? Did it make your day? It's a wonderful feeling to receive an unexpected letter - the excitement teetering on impatience as you open the envelope. Yet for most people, it is a rare joy. Or when was the last time you bought someone a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers? Not because it's someone's birthday or anniversary or for any reason other than to brighten up his or her day? When was the last time you told the people you love of your love for them?
These things may seem simple and external, but they reflect a much deeper quality in a person. Spiritually, we strive to be patient because God is patient, we seek to be kind because God is kind, we try to be humble and gentle because they are the ways of God, we seek to love and be loved because God is love. Yet above everything else, before everything else, God is a giver. God always gives. He never takes. He only gives. That is why to give a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers, or to take time to write a letter, is an act of greatness. It is an act of greatness because it is an act that emerges from the heart and mind of God. If all our actions could be performed with this disposition, we would be living life to the fullest.
I promise you with absolute certitude that there is no faster, surer way to share in the life, the power, and the infinite joy of God than to give. Give of your time, give of your talents, and give of your resources to make a difference in other people's lives. It is the way of greatness. This is the way of God. It is the way of legends, heroes, stars, champions, leaders, and saints. The good we do is never lost; it never dies. In other people, in other places, in other times - the good we do lives on forever. Be the difference that makes the difference!
Code name 'Jolanta' Irena Sendler in '44
By: Maggie Jones - The NY Times
Smuggling Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto was by necessity quiet work. It was invisible work. And it was largely women’s work. For Irena Sendler, a Catholic Pole in her 30s, and for the dozens of women in her underground network, gender was as crucial as code names, secret hand signals, safe houses and smuggling routes in a conspiracy that would save at least 2,500 young lives.
A woman in the underground could carry a swaddled baby from one safe house to another and look like any other mother with a child. She could board a train with a 5-year-old girl bearing forged identity papers, bound for a convent that hid hundreds of Jewish children, and claim they were heading to visit relatives in the countryside.
It was 1941, and the Nazis had forced more than 400,000 Jews behind the 10-foot-high walls of the Warsaw ghetto. Jews were dying by the thousands from starvation, from typhus, from Gestapo bullets. At first, Sendler, a social worker in Warsaw, smuggled in lard, meat and money beneath her clothes, using an ID from the city’s Health Department. But she soon realized it was meager aid. The only real lifeline for Jews was the one that led out.
For some, heroism is an instinct. Sendler, who stood shy of 5 feet, had bright blue eyes and the smooth, round cheeks of a schoolgirl, saved Jewish children, she later said, because “my heart told me to.” In the early 1900s, her father, her greatest influence, was the only doctor in their town who provided medical aid to patients with typhus, she explained to Mary Skinner, the producer of a coming documentary on Sendler. Before he died from the disease when Irena was 7 years old, he told her that if she saw someone drowning, she should not stop to ask questions. You just jump in, he said.
And so she did — each time she helped another child escape the ghetto. By 1943, Sendler was running a network of dozens of women and a smaller number of men for the children’s division of Zegota, the underground organization financed by the Polish government in exile.
Imagine, for a moment, you were one of the Jewish mothers whom Irena Sendler visited. You would have known her by her code name, Jolanta. And she would have explained that while she could not save everyone, she could try to get your son or daughter to the other side, to the so-called Aryan side, where the child might live in a convent, or the home of a sympathizer, or an orphanage. She would write down the child’s name, along with a new Polish Christian name and an address, with the hope that the family would be reunited one day. Otherwise, she could promise nothing; she did not know if she would make it past the ghetto’s guards.
Wrenching discussions followed. Parents worried they would be the next ones sent to the Treblinka “work camp.” They worried, too, about their children surviving one more day in the ghetto. And yet. Do you trust your child’s life to a stranger?
Sendler recalled haunting exchanges. A mother said yes, but the father said no. A grandmother sobbed and clung to a child, refusing to let the baby go. Indecision became a decision: more than once, Sendler returned to the apartment of a wavering parent to discover the entire family had been deported.
Other parents — desperate, starving, fearing the worst — said yes. A mother handed over her 6-month-old baby, Elzbieta, with a memento of their short life together: a silver teaspoon with the baby’s name on one side, her birth date on the other. A salvaged item for a salvaged child, Elzbieta Ficowska would later recall. Like many babies, Elzbieta was drugged — Sendler’s co-conspirators often used the barbiturate Luminal — before being placed in a tiny wooden box and driven out of the ghetto in a truck loaded with bricks.
Once outside the walls, the hardest work began. Collaborators known as couriers, some of them teenage girls, took school-age children as well as babies to temporary housing. The children acquired new names and awaited fake baptismal certificates. Rachela became Marysia. A child with the last name Grinberg became Kowalska. Children were drilled in Polish songs, poems, Catholic prayers. Some children who looked too Semitic had their faces bandaged when they were moved from one safe house to another. Black hair was dyed blond. Boys were dressed as girls (the Gestapo might check to see if a boy was circumcised).
In 1943, the Gestapo arrested Sendler. The owner of a laundry that served as an underground meeting point named Sendler after being tortured. Sendler, for her part, revealed nothing, she told her biographer, Anna Mieszkowska. She spent three months in prison, during which the Gestapo interrogated and beat her, even breaking her legs. Finally, after Sendler was sentenced to death, a guard who received a bribe from Zegota freed her.
She spent the rest of war working for Zegota, under assumed names, and continued to help children and families as a social worker after the war. But it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that organizations, including the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, began giving awards and financial assistance to Sendler. Then, in 2000 a group of Kansas high-school girls wrote a play about Sendler called “Life in a Jar,” which they eventually performed all over United States and in Poland, where the girls visited Sendler.
The media leapt on the story of the friendship between rural American students and an elderly, unsung Polish heroine. Several newspapers portrayed Sendler as a kind of superhero, single-handedly saving some 2,500 children. It was untrue, Sendler insisted. Smuggling and then protecting children required a long chain of bravery that included couriers, nuns, priests, Polish families. But it was the first act of bravery that made the most heart-wrenching impression on Sendler. A moment of courage when Jewish mothers and fathers kissed their babies one last time in order to give them a chance to live.
Written by Elizabeth Hanna Pham. Posted to Young Catholic Women by Kate DeBrock.
Wikipedia describes Pinterest as: “a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more.” You may visit the website here: www.pinterest.com
But Pinterest is more than that. Like any social media, Pinterest is a place where people can feel a little more comfortable and safe expressing things they might not already express in person. Whether it’s online dating or blogging or chatting—it’s easier to expose the piece of yourself you’re embarrassed about, or the piece of yourself you’re scared might get rejected, if you have the screen to hide behind. And we kneel behind that screen to confess what we’re most scared to confess.
In the case of Pinterest the confession is most frequently:I want to be a woman.
Let me explain. First of all, the overwhelming majority of Pinterest users are female.
Secondly, these female users “pin” about things that are very much in line with the “traditional” woman, not the modern progressive woman who wants to be seen as no different from a man.
You see, on Pinterest, the women who would generally speak all about their BS degree are pinning as if they’re getting their MRS degree (you might as well assume that every woman on Pinterest is engaged.) The women who swear that they will never be housewives are filling their pages with recipes and cleaning tips. The women who hate the idea of settling down have boards devoted to their dream home, picket fence included. The women who say they want to put off having children can’t seem to resist the cute little girl’s room ideas or the viral pin of the sweet suggestion for how to tell your children the truth about Santa. We say we’re liberated from the sweeping, the cooking, the diaper changing, and the marrying. But Pinterest clearly says otherwise. So what’s the deal? Why the discrepancy?
The problem is, as much as we talk about being liberated from these things, most of us can’t help but want them deep down. We’re just scared that nobody will listen to us if we do. Or that we won’t be accepted. Or we won’t be supported.
Because in the post-feminism era, women are encouraged to go out into the world and do big things to change it—but they are rarely encouraged to stay where they are and do little things to change their world in a big way. We look down on the twenty two year old who doesn’t want to get her masters or doesn’t want to get a corporate job. We look down on the newly married couple who would like to start a family. We look down on the woman who may not travel the world to feed the hungry, but feeds her friends and family with love-infused cookies. Women, nowadays, are supposed to be independent, rich, intellectual, ambitious, and restless. If they don’t happen to be these things, we act like something is wrong with them. And what do they do? Well, they either have to take the heat of being treated like an airhead, or they go on to something that doesn’t fulfill them, and we’re short another wonderful wife and mother. We’re short another beautiful home. We’re short more homemade cookies.
And isn’t this the stuff that means the most
to us? The stuff of Pinterest? Our mothers taught us love. They taught us how to love. Motherhood (along with fatherhood) is the only “career choice” that keeps the human race going. The things closest to our hearts, the things that truly make the world go round—they are the things of home and hearth and Christmas and babies and unconditional love—even through the diapers and the spilled milk and the broken ornaments. We don’t want to lose the stuff of Pinterest or we would be a very empty and unhappy world.So let’s listen to the cries in that confessional.
Sometimes it’s I want to wear pretty dresses. And I like pretty dresses better than this pants suit I have to wear to work.
Sometimes it’s I’m terrified of marriage. Every marriage I’ve ever seen has failed. And every guy I’ve ever dated has failed me and wounded me. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces. But I have this fantasy deep down that I can’t seem to get rid of. So I’m going to plan my dream wedding on here.
Let’s listen to these cries and let’s let them be heard. Mothers and fathers, encourage your daughters. Brothers, encourage your sisters. Boyfriends, fiancés, husbands, encourage your women. And women, encourage each other. Don’t be afraid that you’ll lose your worth. You’ve already got your worth. By suppressing it, you’re merely hiding it from those who would be ready and willing to recognize it (and I promise
there are guys out there who would.) We all know how beautiful womanhood is. So don’t be afraid. As most fashionista women know well, there are things that are trends and there are things that are timeless. And the type of womanhood we’re talking about here is one of those timeless things. It may not be popular, but it will always
be beautiful and desirable. And if we learn how to let it speak up, outside of Pinterest, we will find much fulfillment.Source: http://www.newfeminism.co/2012/04/inside-the-confessional-of-pinterest/
By: Kevin LowryFaith at Work
encourages Catholics – and all Christians – to fully integrate faith into our everyday work lives. By doing so, we are able to find new meaning as our work experiences to draw us closer to Christ, while sanctifying each work day and acting as a source of grace for others. In today’s work environments, we have an unparalleled opportunity to reflect Christ’s light in practical ways, such as treating others with dignity, handling adversity with grace, and applying a long-term (eternal!) perspective to everyday situations. Through our faithfulness in even small matters (for example, commenting positively about our spouse to a co-worker) the Holy Spirit can use our daily work to transform lives.
The book uses anecdotes and examples of the faith being applied to work situations, highlighting opportunities for us to excel in both spiritual and practical terms. Topics include finding meaning in our work, building solid teams, overcoming interpersonal strife, flourishing through adversity and living the beatitudes. Have you ever experienced workplace attitudes or practices that don’t square with your faith? Need some encouragement with a difficult relationship at work? Want to turn your work into prayer? This book is for you!
A truly successful career consists not only of earning a paycheck, it also helps us to achieve the ultimate purpose: to become saints through holiness in our daily lives, and lead others to Christ. Through being faithful Catholics, and with the strength of the sacraments, we bring Christ to others in the workplace and participate in God’s plan of salvation for our lives. Check out the following book reviews! Zenit Interview Lisa Hendey on Catholicmom.com Sarah Reinhard on Catholicmom.com Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle Hallie Lord from Betty Beguiles Legatus Magazine Randy Hain from The Integrated Catholic Life Kevin O’Brien from Theater of the Word Dan Burke from RC Spiritual Direction Brandon Vogt from The Thin Veil Shane Kapler from Catholic Exchange Rita Hernandez from Rita Reviews Trisha Niermeyer Potter from Prints of Grace
James 2:26 - Faith without works is dead
One of the best ways to show faith throughout your career is through your quality of work and attitude... and when you do good works, you will have a much greater chance of receiving a promotion and being regarded as a leader. So here are a few tips on how to take your faith to the next level at work!
By: Dawn Klingensmith
- CTW Features
The nonstop worker who seldom leaves her desk is not the sort of person who gets promoted. But neither is the constant campaigner. Besides working hard and staying visible, what can young professionals do to position themselves for a promotion?
Dress and act the part. “Image and posturing can sound trivial. However, perception does become reality, and so appearing in a way that matches the desired role makes sense,” says executive coach Pamela Garber, New York City.
Lift up the entire team. “Companies want team players. Promotion is a team sport, although most people are too busy competing against colleagues to realize it,” says Sarah Hathorn, CEO, Illustra Consulting, Duluth, Ga. By praising and helping others, “you’ll be promoted faster and more frequently because every company wants that kind of team player who can develop raw talent with a selfless attitude.”
Don’t aim straight up. “Progressive organizations promote people who accept lateral and diagonal positions in the company, so zigzag your way to the top” Hathorn says, adding that zigzagging results in a fuller understanding of how the company functions as a whole.
Take on more responsibility before it is offered. “Voluntarily take some tasks off your boss’s plate,” Hathorn suggests.
Keep better company. “Use positive peer pressure by surrounding yourself with hard-working coworkers and friends who share your career goals,” says Joseph Grenny, co-author of “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” (Business Plus, 2012). “Distance yourself from the office slackers.”
Seek new and better ways of conducting business, and apply them. “All business today revolves around innovation – not just products, but go-to-market strategies, customer service, supply-chain management, business model efficiencies, and on and on,” says Brian McGowan, managing partner, Aquinas Search Partners, Atlanta.
Beef up credentials and credibility. “If by serving on committees and taking on key roles in associations you become known as a thought leader or expert in your field, management is sure to take notice,” says Michelle Coussens, dean of the School of Business at Kendall College in Chicago. Besides visibility, this kind of involvement ensures joiners are up on the latest industry news and developments.
Throw your hat in the ring. “Don’t just assume because you do good work you’re automatically in the running for a promotion,” Coussens says. “Put the buzz in people’s ear, and when the time comes, make the ask.”
For more information, visit: http://www.roanoke.com/job/careerCenter/wb/307750
I cannot tell you how many times I see an article on Yahoo detailing the most “applicable” degrees or the most in demand jobs so young people can make the most economically sound decision for their future. So much of our culture engrains in us a sense of practicality and pragmatism that it can deter us from taking out time to spend with our Lord. Much of what our culture teaches us to do is to focus on the worldly aspects of our lives and then, when we have time, address our spiritual needs. Our culture demands that our relationship with Christ take the backseat to all the “little things” that take up our time as students, parents, and working men and women.
This sense of pragmatism and our inner struggle with it really reminded me of Christ’s friends, Martha and Mary. I firmly believe that each of us has a Martha side and a Mary side that influences the way we act and make decisions and it is important that we find a way to balance these two, sometimes conflicting, world views if we are to live a full life for Christ!
Martha and Mary were two sisters whom Christ visited. During this visit Mary sat and chatted and listened to Christ as Martha hustled around the house preparing the meal and fussing over all the little details. She even went so far as to chastise her sister for not helping her with the arrangements. To this Christ simply responds, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” The implications of Christ’s words here are significant for our lives as a whole. How often do we find ourselves stressed out by the menial tasks of the day? How often do we find ourselves letting our unsettled state distract us from spending time with Christ or contemplating him throughout the course of the day?
I know that for me this is something I am always struggling against. Too often I allow myself to become overly focused on one thing that I lose sight of the bigger picture. Mary, on the other hand, saw the bigger picture. She understood that spending time with Christ, especially while He was physically there with them, was of the utmost importance.
However, it is important not to write off Martha completely. One of the main reasons she chastised her sister was probably because she herself wished to be spending her time with Christ, but felt that she should serve Him before she could be with Him. She saw her duties as being separate from being with Christ.
Looking into the future it is easy to see how easy it is to become like Martha. When you have a family, a job, ailing parents, or just a busy life in general it will be hard for you to still focus on developing your relationship with Christ. God is not calling us to shirk our duties to the people in our lives, but is rather calling us to bring Him into all the aspects of our life so that we do not have to compromise our interior life. It is important to remember how important it is to dedicate our daily work and sufferings up to our Lord. You do not need to be sitting in front of our Lord during Adoration in order to talk to him. Make it a point to have little conversations with Him throughout your day. Tell Him about your work projects, your career aspirations, and ask Him to be present with you as you work so that He may show Himself to others through the good work that you do.
When you have a family one-day, make it a point to teach your children that part of being a family means praying together. Integrate it into your family life so that your children will learn that prayer does not just have to be done in the chapel or when you are on your knees. At the same time it is of critical importance that while teaching our children how to pray outside of the chapel that we instill in them the necessity of being physically near our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Without understanding the importance of praying in front of our Lord, it will be impossible to ever integrate prayer seamlessly into the rest of our day. But by accepting our work as coming from Christ and doing it in order to intentionally serve Him, we can make our work itself a means of uniting ourselves with Christ. Then, when we come before Him in silence and sit at His feet, we can better appreciate the presence of the One we have been seeking all day. In this way it is possible to become both Martha and Mary by doing our work with a salvific intention so that we are better able to put aside our concerns when it is time to sit at His feet.
Something that has really struck me recently is the amount of zeal that the youth in the Church has today. This zeal inspires amazing movements and makes us ambitious for how we live our lives for Christ. However, sometimes when I talk to my friends and other acquaintances, it troubles me to see a narrow-minded view on what it means to live an authentic Christian life outside of college.
Many people I have spoken with seem unhappy with the prospect of working a 9 to 5 job in a cubicle. In fact, whenever I tell someone that I am excited to start work as a tax consultant I usually get the look that says, “Well have fun with being a machine for the rest of your life.” I believe something that has led to this negative perception of a traditional or mundane job is the “follow your dream” culture we have in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong; it is not bad to have ambitions and to pursue them. The problem with this western ideal of pursuing your dream at all costs is that it can result in us ignoring or resisting God’s calling for us.
It seems that many young Catholics feel that they must do something extraordinary in order to be living a life for Christ. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently misguided about wanting to do something extraordinary for Christ. My problem is that it sometimes seems that people are narrowing down what they consider living a Christ-like life to just the extraordinary. It is this narrow view on how we can serve Christ that worries me. Some people may feel that in some way they are not doing enough for Christ by working an ordinary, mundane job and that they need to be founding the next amazing evangelical organization or must be super-involved at their parish. I have to reemphasize that there is nothing wrong for having those kinds of ambitions. However, when we narrow our sight so that we see those extraordinary callings as the only possibility for us, that is where we must check ourselves and make sure that we are open to whatever God is calling us to do.
Christ is calling us to be saints through and through. However, sanctity is something that is achieved through the ordinary, day to day, humdrum activities of everyday life. Christ calls us to take part in ordinary/common activities. It is the way in which we do these common activities that must be extraordinary. St. Josemaria Escriva really emphasized the sanctity of your everyday work, making it one of his hallmark teachings. We can glorify God by doing our work, no matter how cool or ordinary, for Him. By uniting our mental or physical labor with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our work can take on a salvific nature. It is in this way that we can more readily bring Christ into the workplace and show Him to our co-workers. By offering our work up to our Lord, we participate in both the salvation of ourselves as well as those around us. Many of us will be in workplaces where we will not necessarily have the opportunity to bring up Christ and our faith in conversation…but we can always show Christ to our co-workers through our work and demeanor.
So, let us not be afraid to work in occupations that we might consider “too ordinary” or do not seem to be directly contributing to the Church’s mission. The truth is that God is calling the vast majority of us to work in the secular workplace and to bring Him into the midst of it. Think of all the good we could do and souls we could bring to Christ if we do our work with the same fervor with which we pray or try to evangelize others.
I will wrap this short little post up with some words from Pope John Paul I: “There, nel bel mezzo della strada (in the middle of the street), in the office, in the factory, we can be holy provided we do our job competently, for love of God, and cheerfully, so that everyday work does not become a ‘daily tragedy’, but rather ‘a daily smile’”.
Hello everyone, here is an interesting and thought provoking article that a friend sent me:
As I've watched college students graduate recently, I've noticed a distressing trend. Campus ministries are becoming better, teaching orthodoxy without hesitation. Genuinely Catholic colleges are brimming over with zealous young people.
There is a harshness, a sort of snobbery happening. I watch in not a little horror and listen to what they are saying, as they measure other people by their overt acts of piety, while they size people up and discard them like the stuff of yesterday's recycling bin because they don't fit the new collegiate image of perfect holiness.
And I can just imagine that several years hence, they will go together with their young children to a playdate. They will meet another young mom at the park. They will inquire as to how many children she has. And when they discover that she has two, four years apart, they will say something sanctimonious about how they are open to God's plan for having children and has she ever heard of NFP? She will sit and wonder briefly whether she should tell them about the two years of cancer between the first birth and the second, about how desperately she prayed for this second child, about what a miracle he is. That young mom, with the two children widely spaced, will have just learned how some people of faith can judge one another. Litmus tests. Checklists. As she raises a family in the real world, she will see that attitude given voice over and over and over again, while Jesus weeps for his Church, broken and divided.
What's the opposite of gentleness? Harshness. Hard lines. Brittle rules.
So there you are, you all grown up and graduated and out in the real world! You've come so far. You've left behind the safety of campus life, the happy campus ministry, the structure of academia. You've gone and gotten yourself a real job in the real world. With a real cubicle and a good excuse to shop at that very fine career wear store. Good for you!
You have a zeal for the faith that can be spotted a mile away. You wear it proudly splashed across your chest on more than a dozen t-shirts collected over the years of vibrant Catholic education. And you've come to embrace all those devotions of our faith as you've learned of them in your coming-of-age. You are on fire for your faith and you are eager to go out there into the real world and tell everyone just how Catholic you are.
May I whisper a word or two to you? Gentleness. Humility
Out there, in the real world, be mindful of gentleness. Don't beat people over the head with your religion. Really. You don't win souls for Christ that way. Actually, come to think of it, you
don't win souls for Christ at all. The Holy Spirit does. You just listen--quietly--for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. You just pray--fervently--that you can be His instrument. And please don't think for one moment that you are better than the guy who goes to lunch at lunchtime instead of going to Mass. You're not. You are broken and messy and in need of a savior just like he is. You have been given the extraordinary gift of grace and the blessing of faith. Given it. God gave it to you.
You didn't earn it. You don't deserve it.
Humility. You know God in the Eucharist. You are blessed. He blesses you. Now, go bless someone else.
You are going to meet so many new people in the next few years. No matter how high-powered your job, no matter how life and death your decisions, you are still and always a woman of God. You are called to be as gentle as the Blessed Mother. Here's a hint towards beginning relationships and continuing relationships with gentleness: Be the girl who walks into a room--any room, every room-- and says, "There you are! How are you?" Don't be the girl who bursts onto the scene and shouts, "Here I am! Be like me!" It's not about you. It's never about you. You are a servant of God. Serve.
I know how dearly you hope to find a Godly man who will sweep you off your feet and be the husband to the wife and the mother you feel called to be. I know you want him to be as committed to the faith as you think you are. Don't judge every person you meet with a checklist in hand. Whether it's the girl you keep bumping into in the cafeteria, or the guy who seems to ride the same bus route on your commute, don't issue litmus tests.
Here's the thing: you're going to miss a lot of good people if you make up checklists like that. And you might just miss God's plan for you, both in terms of men and real, good girlfriends. Some of the best husbands and fathers I know couldn't have checked off more than one or two things on that video when they were fresh out of college. They grew into good, holy men, often because of girls who loved them, believed in them, and shared the grace of Jesus with them. And I know people who can check off everything on the video list and, sadly, they aren't very good husbands and fathers. While lots of people can follow the rules and lots of people can do numerous acts of piety and devotion, they aren't necessarily people after God's own heart. Following the rules does not automatically equal holiness.
And isn't it interesting how in that whole long list, not one act of mercy is mentioned? You want a good husband and father? Find a merciful one. Here's a far better checklist:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
In the real world, those acts of mercy can take many, many forms. Perhaps you'll find him ladling soup in a homeless shelter. That would be an easy one to spot. Or maybe he's the young medical student who circles back after a long day of work to read stories to the pediatric patients. Maybe he's the guy who listens patiently as his grandfather goes on and on about a distant memory not quite still within his reach. Or maybe he's the one who's working full-time and getting his degree because he dreams of a large family and wants the means with which to support them. Is he the guy next door? The one who "only" goes to Sunday Mass, but who also cheerfully picks up two young soccer players and drives them to practice three times a week because their mom is bedridden? And all the while, in the car, he is their friend. Their real friend. A strong shoulder to lean on in a time of crisis at home. Just a real good guy. Look for a real good guy. Someone who will journey with
Don't dismiss someone just because they aren't as outwardly pious as you are. Don't dismiss people at all. There's a big world of people out there. And some of those people are people from whom God intends you to learn. Even if, at first glance, it looks as if they aren't nearly as holy or smart or good as you are. Even if they aren't as holy or smart or pious as you are. They, too, were created in His image and each person--each and every one--is valuable. And worth your time. Don't discount someone because they aren't as up on theology as you are or because they don't "have religion."
Remember "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthinians 8:1)
And, to make it all trickier, zealous people have to guard carefully against Pharasaical sins and scrupulosity.
Whether we are growing closer to God or growing closer to people, it's not about checklists. It's about relationships.
Relationships beg coming alongside, walking together.
School is finished. Now begins the real work of cultivating a teachable spirit.
It's about listening.
It's about serving.
It's about nurturing.
It's about loving.
It's about a gentle spirit.
All the time.
It won't be easy. The gentleness thing. Pray for the grace to be gentle. We're all human, remember? As you go about your day in your busy real life world, you will brush up against broken, hurting, sinful real life human beings. They are just like you. And when you know that you are broken, too, saved by grace and gifted with faith, you will be genuinely gentle.You will look to people and assume that there is something to be learned from them, something good in them. You won't assume that because you are more pious, more obviously active in your faith, that you are closer to God. Instead, you will see Jesus in the poor, in the ordinary, even in the partier in the apartment next door. "This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so He bade us to be gentle and humble of heart."
-- St John Bosco
And in the end, He won their souls.
Go gently into that real world. Grow gently into a woman of genuine faith.
And God go with you.