Work ~ Beginning at Home (Part Two)


Part One is here.

by Mary Perkins, Beginning at Home

One of the deepest and most glorious truths of our faith certainly is that what is only waste and loss in terms of temporal value–mistakes, suffering, failure, and death itself–can, in Christ, have the greatest possible value, individual and social, for all eternity.

But our attempts to realize this should not make us forget that ordinary human work which does produce temporal results can also have, in Christ, its eternal value.

No normal man wants to spend his time and strength and energy on mere busy-work or boondoggling. And normal men resent, at least subconsciously, that so-called Christian view of work which would make of it only a punishment, or a kind of busy-work to keep us out of trouble during our earthly exile.

But this is, of course, nowhere near the glorious Christian truth. The fact is that all rightful human work duly satisfies a real God-given or God-permitted human need, has the eternal value of helping to build up the kingdom of God, the Body of Christ, to its full and everlasting perfection.

The City of God is “not made with hands,” the houses and statues we make will not last for eternity, neither will the books we write, the laws we frame, the institutions we establish. But the effects of all these things on the human beings who are to be the living stones of God’s eternal temple will last forever.

The way in which a man is fed, clothed and housed, the way in which he is taught, ruled, and entertained, given the tools and conditions under which he himself does his work–all this affects the quality of his human living (and so of the meritorious value of his actions); all this aids or hampers his achieving his final perfection as the unique member of Christ’s Body that God means him to be for all eternity.

When our Lord said: “Whatever you do to these My least brethren, you do to Me,” He meant it as a fact, not as a mere manner of speaking, for in feeding, clothing, comforting, advising, guiding one another, we are actually ‘edifying,’ that is, building up the members of Christ’s own Body.

Only God himself knows, of course, when and to what extent His grace makes up for our mistakes and failures and mistreatment in fulfilling each other’s needs, so that somehow in spite of all this, ‘all manner of things shall be well’ and the perfection of the mystical Body and each of its members finally and beautifully achieved.

But we do know that we shall be judged and given our place for all eternity on how we have tried to fulfill each other’s needs…”Come,” or “Go” as we fed, clothed, housed, comforted Him in His brethren.

We can easily see that a well-planned and well-built house, for instance, contributes to the possibility of men’s living a good and Christian life. The lack of proper housing is one of the chief occasions of sin and discouragement today a poorly planned and built house is a source of irritation; of waste of thought and energy that might have been put into prayer or study or needed relaxation or the fruitful service of others.

But a house planned for the needs of those who live in it and built as well as a house can be, conduces to contentment, to hospitality, to good human living and so to the more effective service of God and our neighbor.

Clearly, then, the work of the architect, of the contractor, of all the craftsmen who gave their time and strength and skill to building such a house, in actual fact contributes objectively to the building up of the kingdom of God. So too, for all other forms of work.

But if our work is to have such an everlasting value (as well as a real temporal value), it must satisfy duly a true human need. This means that it must be done both charitably and skillfully, so that we try to find out and satisfy our neighbor’s real needs rather than to seek our own gain, and that we try to satisfy these needs as well as possible, rather than try to get away with whatever a patron or customer will take.

For, obviously, if the work we do is actually for the purpose of pandering to our neighbor’s vices, of hindering him from leading a good life, it is serving not Christ, but the devil. And as we would certainly not offer careless, shoddy work to Christ Himself, so neither should we offer less than the best we can, or could learn to do, to Christ in our neighbor.

If we look at the list of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we see that it adds up to a summary catalogue of human needs in an acute form. The only difference, then, for a Christian between performing a work of mercy and doing the work by which he earns his daily bread should be that he expects no return from the work of mercy, while he expects, in justice, to receive from his daily work either enough of its products, or a fee, salary, or wage sufficient to enable him to continue to satisfy his neighbor’s need by means of his own particular skill, and to support his family and bring up his children to take their due part in the work of mankind, the work of Christ.

How fruitful and how wonderful, therefore, every rightful form of human work might be! As things are, few people besides priests and religious realize that they are co-workers with Christ and that their daily work has an eternal value of its own. And so the vast majority of Christians have lost the joy of this realization, and, what is worse, have lost the norms of what constitutes true and fruitful work.

Here is one of the chief causes for the desperate state of things in the world today. For the Christian truth is only the fulfillment and perfection of the true human idea of what work should be, and today we have almost completely lost both.

While, thank God, many a doctor, many a small-town storekeeper or banker, many a farmer and craftsman still works primarily for other people’s welfare, yet in general all kinds of vicious and artificial wants are mistaken for true “needs,” the efficiency of machines and not the true welfare of the worker or the customer is the norm for what should be made, keeping up with or getting ahead of other people are the norms for success, rather than the true service of others.

Now, surely, it is the full Christian truth about work that we must be ready to give to our children. For if they are called to any form of lay life, they will have the double vocation of carrying out their own daily work as Christians, and of doing whatever they can to re-establish their chosen profession or occupation “in Christ”; to make it easier for others to work as Christians and to produce the full effects of Christian work and so leaven the whole of society.

Or, if God calls our children to be His priests or religious, a part of their vocation will be to teach and lead and guide others by work and prayer toward the Christian idea of work.

And, of course, we are reminded, “A desire to be beautiful is not unwomanly. A woman who is not beautiful cannot properly fill her place. But, mark you, true beauty is not of the face, but of the soul. There is a beauty so deep and lasting that it will shine out of the homeliest face and make it comely. This is the beauty to be first sought and admired. It is a quality of the mind and heart and is manifested in word and deed. A happy heart, a smiling face, loving words and deeds, and a desire to be of service, will make any woman beautiful.” – Mable Hale, Beautiful Girlhood, Painting by Albert Lynch

This journal is for the single lady who is in the interim before finding her vocation in life. At this very important crossroad in life, this journal can help with discipline, inspiration and encouragement.

All of the quotes deal with a young lady’s time in life….whether it is courtship, religious vocations, modesty and just a better spiritual life in general. A form of Morning and Night Prayers that I have used personally through the years is included at the beginning of the Journal.

This 30~day journal is a tool that will help the young woman to be disciplined in the next 30 days to write down positive, thankful thoughts. It will help her focus on the true and lovely by thinking about good memories, special moments, things and people she is grateful for, etc., as she awaits the time her vocation is made manifest to her.

The journal will assist the young lady as she works on that inner happiness that needs to be developed before she finds her vocation.

NOW is the time to improve our lives!

Available here.

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