One of the commonest experiences we all undertake to have a living is that of going to work. In one of his speeches, precisely that of January 5 2013, Pope Francis said: Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, “anoints” us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, who always acts…
Speaking from my own Franciscan perspective I dare say that St Francis had a very positive outlook on work. In fact, Our Seraphic Father used to call work a grace. In his Testament the Poverello confesses: And I used to work with my hands, and I still desire to work; and I firmly wish that all my brothers give themselves to honest work. Let those who do not know how to work learn, not from desire of receiving wages for their work but as an example and in order to avoid idleness. And when we are not paid for our work, let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, seeking alms from door to door.
We, Franciscan Capuchins, took to heart what our Father St Francis taught us. And tried to live it in our day-to-day lives both fraternally and individually too. In the Eighth Plenary Council of the Order on the Grace of Working, which took place from October 26 to November 19, 2015, at our ‘San Lorenzo’ International College in Rome this theme was looked at closely. In number 6 of the final document we find:
We Capuchin friars are called to provide whatever is necessary for our support through our work and to share this with the poor. The grace of working is constitutive of our being Capuchin friars: it realizes our relationship with God and neighbor, becomes a prophetic announcement of the presence of God in the world and is a source of human and spiritual fulfillment. It is to be understood and lived according to our Capuchin Franciscan identity: in fraternity, minority, and in the spirit of service. The authenticity of work supposes an ongoing conversion to the Gospel that we have promised to live and to witness to prophetically among people.
Work is a grace! Work restores relationships because it brings them in harmony with God and our humanity! Work is holy because Our Creator and Saviour worked and is still working! Work is the holy place of encounter between God and humanity! Work helps us discover the Holy Spirit’s presence in us to be faithful, caring and supportive of others by the fruits of our labour! Work really can sanctify us because it helps us use wisely our time to develop ourselves, others and, in so doing, give glory to our Father in Heaven! Work reminds us to perform it in, with and through Christ the Worker! Work reminds us to allocate the day of rest, Sunday, the day where we are one with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Worker of Workers to worship, thank and adore Him for himself and by being close, particularly in this day, to those who suffer! Work makes us responsible for the well being of our families, communities, countries and the world at large! Work opens for us the horizon of loving in giving ourselves for others!
Hence, as you go to work, you can easily pray this prayer. In so doing you are reminded that work is a holy endeavor, a means of growing closer to God, to others and to yourself too in the process.
As I go to work, Be with me Lord.
Be the patience when I’m frustrated.
Be the endurance when I am tired.
Be with wisdom when I am uncertain.
Be the inspiration when I’m out of ideas.
Be the peacemaker when I feel hurt.
Be the comforter when I feel overwhelmed.
Be the energy when I am weary.
Be the guide when I am confused.
Be the forgiver when I get it wrong.
Be with me Lord, today.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap