“Living the Divine Life: Bringing Holiness into the Day-to-Day”
Session 4 of 4: “Dignity of Work and Necessity of Leisure”
St. Vincent de Paul Parish
Sunday 15, 2013
1. Dignity of Work: Work as part of the Christian Vocation, ergo a means of holiness
a. Scripture: Genesis 1-3
i. Work is now the means by which we achieve those fruits promised to us, that fruit ultimately being eternal life with God.
ii. If we know that we are achieving this goal by the holiness we live our lives—holiness being a manifestation of our living a life worthy of God—then work is now a condition or part of our call to live holy lives; we must sanctify our work.
b. St. Josemaria Scriva, Furrow
1. “Sanctifying one’s work is no fantastic dream, but the mission of every Christian — yours and mine.” (517)
2. “That is one of the battles of peace we have to win: to find God in our work and, with Him and like Him, serve others.” (520)
ii. How one sanctifies his work
1. “I have seen many people live heroic lives for God without leaving their own place of work, and I have come to this conclusion: for a Catholic work is not just a matter of fulfilling a duty — it is to love: to excel oneself gladly in duty and in sacrifice.” (527)
2. “Have you tried following the Apostle’s advice: “let all things be done decently and according to order”? That means, in the presence of God, with Him, through Him, and only for Him.” (512)
3. What does it look like? “You are writing to me in the kitchen, by the stove. It is early afternoon. It is cold. By your side, your younger sister — the last one to discover the divine folly of living her Christian vocation to the full — is peeling potatoes. To all appearances — you think — her work is the same as before. And yet, what a difference there is!—It is true: before she only peeled potatoes, now, she is sanctifying herself peeling potatoes.” (498)
iii. Obstacles or Difficulties to sanctifying one’s work
1. Ordinary or mundane aspect of work
a. “Jesus’ thirty-three years!...: thirty were spent in silence and obscurity; in submission and work...”(485)
b. “Before God, no occupation is in itself great or small. Everything gains the value of the Love with which it is done.” (487)
c. “Here is a mission for ordinary Christians which is heroic and will always be relevant to the present day: to carry out in a holy way all different kinds of occupations even those that might seem least promising.” (496)
d. “When you started your ordinary work again, something like a groan of complaint escaped you: ‘It’s always the same!’ And I told you: ‘Yes, it’s always the same. But that ordinary job —which is the same one your fellow workers do — has to be a constant prayer for you. It has the same lovable words, but a different tune each day.’” (500)
2. Witnessing to our coworkers
a. “Your work has become disagreeable, especially when you see how little your colleagues love God and at the same time flee from grace and the good services you want to render them. You have to try to make up for all that they leave out. You must give yourself to God in work too, as you have done up to now, and convert it into prayer that rises to Heaven for all mankind.” (518)
b. “You too have a professional vocation which spurs you on. Well, that spur is the hook to fish for men. Rectify your intention, then, and be sure you acquire all the professional prestige you can for the service of God and of souls. The Lord counts on this too.” (491)
2. Necessity of Leisure: The norm of the Christian life
a. Scripture: God lives at leisure, so should we.
i. Ps 46:11: “Wait quietly [be at leisure], and you shall have proof that I am God”
ii. Prov. 8:30-31: “I was at his side, a master-workman, my delight increasing with each day, as I made play before him all the while; made play in this world of dust, with the sons of Adam for my play-fellows.”
b. Josef Pieper, Leisure: the basis for culture
1. The Greek word for leisure is σχολη which through the Latin we get schola or School (Cf. 4).
2. Work in both Greek and Latin is merely the negative form of leisure: ασχολη and neg-otium. Both literally mean “not-leisure” (Cf. 5).
3. Aristotle affirms this relationship saying: “We are not-at-leisure in order to be-at-leisure (Cf. 4).
ii. Three ways of considering Work and Leisure
1. Work as ActivityàLeisure as “Non-Activity”
a. Leisure is “an inner absence of preoccupation, a calm, an ability to let things go, to be quiet” (31).
2. Work as EffortàLeisure as condition of considering things in a celebrating spirit
a. “The inner joyfulness of the person who is celebrating belongs to the very core of what we mean by leisure…includes within itself a celebratory, approving, lingering gaze of the inner eye on the reality of creation” (33).
3. Work as Social FunctionàLeisure as oriented towards the whole of existence.
a. “Leisure is not justified in making the functionary as ‘trouble-free’ in operation as possible, with minimum ‘downtime,’ but rather in keeping the functionary human [or gentleman]; and this means that the human being does not disappear into the parceled-out world of his limited work-a-day function, but instead remains capable of taking in the world as a whole, and thereby to realize himself as a being who is oriented toward the whole of existence” (35).