Greetings my sisters and brothers,
The first Monday of September is Labor Day, a celebration and recognition of the importance of work. This day marks the unofficial end of summer and the return to the day to day routine of most of the year: studies for students, work for workers, ministry for ministers…you get the picture. While taking a break, a vacation, is good and healthy, there is need to get back to the work of our day to day lives and making our world a better place.
St. Joseph Marello recognized the importance of the apostolate, work within the church, to build up the kingdom of God and make the world a better place. Writing to one of his classmates from seminary who was sharing his lack of time to fulfill all of his pastoral commitments, Marello, after asking him how he spends his twenty-four hours a day, states: “Prayer comes before anything else… So then there must be constant, lively, unremitting prayer: constant in all periods of the day.” At another time, he had written: Prayer has become the most important apostolate.” We are not to see work and prayer has opponents for our time, but as complementary and necessary for a proper use of our time and for work that will truly be of benefit.
We are to see prayers as our most important duty because without connecting to God, all of our efforts are in vain and will lead to nothing. God is the source of all good and if we wish to do good then we must connect to the source. In this context we can understand better St. Paul’s exhortation: “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thess. 5:17). Not to constantly be on our knees and in church (though we need those times for sure!), but to seek constantly to connect to God to ensure we are doing his will and building his kingdome.
Consider: when you take up a new project at work, or at home, or wherever, do you take the time to ask God if this is what he wants? To ask God to guide you in the work? To ask God to give you the strength and perseverance to carry it to conclusion? To be honest, I do not always do this and when I do not, the work often does not bear the best fruit!
For vocation discernment, the importance of prayer is certainly clear. However, our work is also part of the process. That is, how I spend my time and effort day to day can reveal who God has created me to be and what he has created me to do…though only if done under his inspiration and guidance, and so in the context of prayer.
Let me end with more words from St. Joseph Marello to his friend: “Let me again urge you to pray and pray very much without worrying about anything else. He who is worried and full of anxiety in his work does an offense to God and does not say the Our Father from the heart.” After all, if what I am doing is from God, then why worry? Surely God will bring it to a successful conclusion.
St. Joseph the Worker and model of trust, pray for us.
Fr. Brian, OSJ