Holy work

At the start of a diocese class I’m taking was a prayer attributed to St. Augustine. The lines that captured my attention were “Act in me, O Holy Spirit, That my work, too, may be holy.” Work and holy seemed to be a bit oxymoronic to me and it made me think a bit deeper.

I have heard previously that if people are having issues with their job, they should think of God as their boss rather than their actual manager, and consider themselves as really working for God. While the theory sounds great, when you do have issues with your manager, it’s really hard to get beyond the human factor, especially when you need your supervisor to give you direction. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes the decisions you make, while they seem reasonable and logical, are not always appreciated by your management. Yet, if you turn the thought that what you are doing is holy, how does that change your attitude? Can you find the patience to explain for the tenth time the process to another co-worker? Is your smile a bit more genuine when you talk to your colleagues — even if it’s only over the phone? If you approached every task with the reverence and respect as approaching the Eucharist, both you and your job would be transformed.

Work is not just what we do to earn a paycheck. It is also all the little things that keep life running: laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. What if you applied the same holy attitude towards these tasks? What would happen? I do enjoy cooking & baking and often listen to Christian pop music while I’m in the kitchen, so it’s not a stretch for me to think of that in an elevated mindset. However, activities like taking out the trash, cleaning the toilet, or scooping out the litter box are a bit harder for me to think of as holy activities. Yet we know God is with us always, even in the midst of these less than glamorous chores, which means that even those can be thought of as holy. 

If we treat every action we do as holy, does that take away from those activities that are truly sacred? Perhaps the question should really be, if earth was heaven (and everything is holy in heaven), wouldn’t we treat everything with sacred respect? As Christians, our goal is to bring the light and life of Jesus to those around us; to bring heaven on earth. Should we start living as if we are in heaven instead of waiting to get there? If we start living and treating, not just people but the whole of our lives as holy, we are reflecting the light of Jesus, that same light that radiated from His simple manger, through His Passion and Death on the Holy Cross, and exploded from the tomb that could not contain His Resurrection. 

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.

— Attributed to St. Augustine

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