This Week’s Message
The Spirituality of Work
By Kathy Coffey
Monday is the day of the week that many people dread. After the weekend, a collective sigh wafts across the world: “Ugh. Back to work.” The drill can be tedious, the routine exhausting, and the boss stupid. Work may appear to be a grubby girl cleaning the sooty fireplace, but beneath the ragged camouflage hides the beautiful Cinderella. How can we learn to see work as a productive outlet, a means of support, and God’s gift?
The problem may come from compartmentalizing our prayer and our work. Is Sunday the tidy hour given to God, separate from anything else we do? Or does our faith permeate every minute of every day, especially endless hours spent working? To resolve this dilemma, let’s look at our model, Jesus. He was surrounded by people who worked: fishermen, farmers, tax collectors, shepherds, and soldiers. He drew images from a woman baking, a farmer pruning vines. He worked hard, too.
Jesus’ first followers continued along that path. Paul, the tentmaker, wrote: “You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way, I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak (Acts 20:34-35).” The Benedictine abbeys of the Middle Ages were founded on two cornerstones: prayer and work. The Franciscan missions in California were beehives of activity: crops were grown, grain milled, wine made, furniture carved, cloth woven, paintings and sculptures created. Saint Therese of Lisieux fell asleep during formal prayer, but she found God in routine, daily occupations, her little way.
These examples show that we have always respected work; considering it essential to a full life. A subtle pecking order undercuts this respect, distinguishing the “more lofty” work done with clean hands from “lower” work. But healthy folks relax those distinctions. An earthy pastor drew protests when he pitched in to wash dishes after a potluck dinner. He pleaded with those who tried totake over: “Please let me finish. It is the only tangible thing I have accomplished all day…”
More dangerous than the hierarchy of work is the suggestion that somehow we taint our spirituality with drudgery. The teaching of Jesus about the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:28-29) prompts criticism of overwork and consumerism. We must understand that the paycheck fills the legitimate needs of providing education, shelter, and medical care for ourselves and our children. Furthermore, work provides creativity, social dimension, and a step beyond the self.
Anyone who has ever questioned work’s importance to the human spirit should watch preschool-ers at play. Many pretend to be firefighters, parents, doctors, or truck drives, modeling mysterious adult responsibilities. In Montessori schools, children was dishes that aren’t dirty for sensuous joy of the task: clean scent, warm water, popping bubbles.
We may have lost that first fascination with work through numbing repetition. But many recapture it through hobbies: working on a model railroad or a potter’s wheel seems more fun if it’s not for a paycheck. Our outlook thus colors our work. Seeing the potential to encounter God at every turn of the page or pour of the coffeepot enlivens repetitive processes. And, if we see a job done well as an opportunity to glorify God, then this attitude will add meaning to our work.
Note: Kathy Coffey is an award-winning author, educator, and retreat leader. She is also a regular contributor to “Bringing Home the Word.” A new edition of this resource for prayer and reflection at home is posted every weekend (see link below).
Summer Carillon Recitals
An Our Lady of Good Voyage Tradition
Saturday, August 31st
An annual tradition at Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish concludes this weekend! Once again, LuAnn Pallazola, our very talented organist-keyboardist has prepared programs for our carillon bells that include familiar classical and international pieces, popular hymns and songs, patriotic melodies, and even selections especially for kids! Installed in 1922, the carillon bells in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church were the first toned set of carillon bells in the United States. Although our bells can be heard from blocks away, the sound is best near the church. Our final carillon recital is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, August 31st at 5:15pm. For more information, please contact LuAnn Pallazola at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Labor Day 2019
A Call to Prayer
Monday, September 2nd
Labor Day is a national holiday that is celebrated on the first Monday of September in honor of the labor movement and all who work for the common good of our country. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to make it a public holiday. By 1894, when it was declared a national holiday by President Grover Cleveland, thirty states commemorated the contribution of workers in this way. For many people, especially for our summer friends and neighbors, Labor Day can also mark an unofficial end of the summer season. Either way, it is a good opportunity to pray for all people all around the world who work hard, play by the rules, and yearn for a better life for themselves, for their families, and for their neighbors. In this spirit, let us lift our hearts and voices in prayer:
We thank you, Lord
for the gift and opportunity of work;
may our efforts always be pure of heart,
for the good of others,
and for the glory of your name.
We lift up to you, Lord,
all who long for just employment
and those who work to defend
the rights and needs of workers everywhere.
May those of us
who are now retired always remember
that we still make a valuable contribution to the Church
and to the world through our prayers and good works.
May our working and our resting
always give praise to you until the day
we share together in eternal rest
with all of our departed brothers and sisters.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen!
Saint Ann, pray for us!
Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Anthony, pray for us!
Saint Peter, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Saint Joseph the Worker, pray for us!
Healing God’s Family & Rebuilding Our Church
An Evening of Prayer with Mychal Judge
Thursday, September 11th
More than eight centuries ago, the Crucified Christ called out to the young man who would become Saint Francis of Assisi: “Go! Rebuild my church which as you can see is falling into ruin!” Francis took the Lord’s command literally and set out to repair small chapels in and around his hometown. Over the years, however, Francis came to understand more fully that his vocation to live the Gospel and share God’s love was vital to rebuilding the Church all around our suffering world.
In this spirit and in appreciation for the ongoing crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church in our own time, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has gathered throughout this year on a regular basis in commemoration of various feast days and important memorials to pray for the healing of God’s family and for the courage to rebuild our wounded church. In addition, we have also begged the saints to pray for us and to guide us in the hard work of discipleship during these difficult times.
All are invited to join us for our next Evening of Prayer for the Healing of God’s Family on Wednesday, September 11th in commemoration of the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; and to reflect on the life and spirituality of Father Mychal Judge, who is recorded as the first official victim of those attacks. This special evening of prayer will begin at 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church with Evening Prayer and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At 6:30pm, we will pray the Holy Rosary for the healing of God’s family. And at 7:15pm, we will conclude with Night Prayer and Benediction.
During Evening Prayer, Cliff Garvey will offer a brief reflection on the life and legacy of Father Mychal Judge, who was a Franciscan Friar, the chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, and widely known for his boundless care and compassion for the poor, the sick, and the addicted. We hope and pray that you and your family will be able to join us for all or even just part of this special evening of prayer, reflection, and devotion. For more information about this special event, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Knights of Columbus
Annual Mass & Breakfast
Sunday, September 15th
The Knights of Columbus (Council 215) is a fraternal and charitable organization of Catholic men that serves the Catholic Community of Gloucester at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Since 1897, our award-winning council has sponsored countless good works of charity and community service. If you can spare just twenty-four hours this year to volunteer with us, we can transform that commitment into meaningful results for you, your family, and our community.
The Knights invite all members, friends, and fellow parishioners to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes in Saint Ann Church Hall immediately following our 8:15am Mass on Sunday, September 15th. A free will offering will be gratefully accepted and donated to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com; or visit our website (see link below). Please join us! Spread the word! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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