By Fr Nicholas Pearce
In a sense, the final word of the Gospel on this matter as on others is found in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. It is here that we must seek an answer to these problems so important for the spirituality of human work. The Paschal Mystery contains the Cross of Christ and his obedience unto death, which the Apostle contrasts with the disobedience which from the beginning has burdened man's history on earth. It also contains the elevation of Christ, who by means of death on a Cross returns to his disciples in the Resurrection with the power of the Holy Spirit.Sweat and toil, which work necessarily involves the present condition of the human race, present the Christian and everyone who is called to follow Christ with the possibility of sharing lovingly in the work that Christ came to do. This work of salvation came about through suffering and death on a Cross. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform. - St John Paul II Laborem Exercens
The work we do, is not just a means to an end, but is an important way that we can collaborate with Jesus, in his saving act on the Cross. Rather than seeing work as mere toil, our Christian tradition teaches us that we can unite our daily work, with the work of Christ, and thus sanctify our daily activity. With so many of us socially distancing (or in quarantine) and thus working or studying from home, our work takes on new challenges, and also provides new opportunities to grow in holiness. here are some tips from the saints and a few other heavy hitters on how to effectively work from home, and grow in holiness at the same time.
Turn off the TV, and stop the social-media scrolling. With so much beyond our control, its time to focus on what is within our realm of influence. Your next project or essay, your next report or meeting, these are the things the Lord has placed within your control. If yesterday was not so good, don't worry, today is a new day. Be willing to start again and take each day as the new opportunity the Lord gives you to move forward and grow in holiness.
Whether we like it or not, our lives just got a lot simpler. It will not be possible to do at home everything we were able to do at work or school. What is important is focusing on we can achieve, and focus on doing what those things well. Entrust your day to the Lord, asking him what he wants you to achieve each day.
Just because you can stay in your PJ's till midday does not mean you should. Make sure you get up each morning and get dressed for action, have a good breakfast and then get to work. It is important that although you are now working from home, you set yourself a plan for action, and goals .that you wish to achieve, the first of which should be getting dressed
Having a dedicated space to work is essential, and will help to eliminate distractions. Busyness and clutter lead to chaos and anxiety. Find an area of your home where you can create a space that is clear and free of distraction. This becomes the place where you 'go to work' and where equally you can walk away from and leave behind when it is time to relax.Turn your desk into an Altar"Great holiness consists in carrying out the little duties of each moment." - St. Josemaria EscrivaWith the shutting of churches and the subsequent Eucharistic fast for the lay faithful, your desk becomes your altar. It is here where you can offer sacrifice each and every day. It is at your desk, where your commitment to the 'little duties' of study or work provides you with the opportunity to grow in holiness and grace.
Sometimes it is helpful to offer periods of work or study for others. Write the name of someone you love onto a post-it note and stick it to the screen of the computer or the desk in front of who you as a reminder of who you are offering this hour of work or study for. Don't forget to offer an hour of work for our doctors and nurses, and for our civil leaders during this time.
Be kind to yourself. Make sure you schedule in time for breaks, prayer, exercise, and time to connect with those in your home. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint, so looking after yourself is vital. Don't forget to find ways to reach out to friends and colleagues, making time to connect via facetime or zoom for a virtual coffee and chat.
Life, while becoming a whole lot simpler, has also become a whole lot more complicated as we navigate what it means to be working and studying from home, surrounded by our family members or housemates. Whatever you gave up for Lent this year…. don't worry about that now, your new penance is being faithful to your work or study while remaining patient with those whom you live.
*While I know these two are not saints......here's hoping.