catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 9 :: 2010.04.30 — 2010.05.13


The best part...may it overflow!

You’ve probably heard the commercial jingle, “The best part of waking up, is…” Let me guess — you’ve already sung the rest of that little ditty in your own head!  Yes, it’s a catchy tune. But have you ever really thought about what it implies? Sweet aromas, scintillating pleasure, enticing you to greet the day — and to something you just can’t do without!  But, why, oh why, do we need to be enticed to get out of bed in the morning? How many of us really like to wake up? Do we “rise and shine” or more often "roll over and whine? " Oh, just a few minutes more, then we can pry open our eyelids to enter the shock of modern living!

Regardless of whether you are a night or a morning person, if you don’t like getting out of bed to start your day (whether that’s for first, second or third shift), you’ve got a problem — and a serious one for a Christian. Let me guess what you’re thinking: SLOTH. No, not sloth. It’s much worse, actually. What we have here is a crisis — a crisis of vocation. We are suffering from a malingering malaise resulting from successive reductionism in the pursuit of meaningful work. “Vocations,” genuine calls from God, have been reduced to mere “professions.” Professions were even once upon a time understood to be public proclamation, with passion and religious fervor, for the contributions we could and would make to the world to serve God and mankind.  But alas, now, even professions have been further reduced to being “jobs” — banal four-letter epithets representing demeaning drudgery, agony and sorrow. Where is the joy in that? (Pardon that rhetorical question, but you get my point!)  And, pray tell, who is responsible?

We are. We all are. We, ourselves, have abdicated our Christian duty to be cheerful in our other duties (2 Cor. 9:7; 1 Peter 4:9; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11), and to acknowledge that our purpose, our fulfillment is only found in following Christ, and His Plan for our lives. Too many of us, as Christians, have become faithless — not in trusting Christ as our Savior, but in trusting Him as the Lord of our Lives.  We profess very little in the workplace. We have misplaced our passion. We have believed the lies of this world. Many of us are caffeine junkies, running on empty, thrust ahead by greed, speed and illusory need, whipped into a frenzy, seeking after the instant frappe’ of attainment, only to create a harried concoction of dark bittersweet resentment for that which should bring us genuine fulfillment.

It’s time for us to wake up and smell the triple mochaccino max café’ latte meant to jostle the sleepy brain. We are not the gods of our own little universes. If we have distaste for waking up because it means going to work, we are in collusion with a hidden enemy — the self. Deigning to avoid work is a cruel hoax. All work is valuable, all work is sacred and all work can be vocation, when we realize that Almighty God has invited us to join Him in the work of creation. He wants each and every one of us to engage in co-creation (no — that’s not a typo, for those of you out there who really enjoy the divine work of procreation), so that we may experience abundant life, for ourselves and for those around us (John 10:10). The joy to be found in career, in work (yes, there’s that four-letter word again!) is not found solely within, but in reaching out. We were created to serve.

Some of you cradle Catholics out there may remember the old Baltimore Catechism. Part I Question 6 asks, “Why did God make you?” The answer is “to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.”  Amen.   It does indeed take a child-like faith to entrust the entirety of one’s future to God, and to accept that God needs the work-a-day worldly contributions of dog-catchers as much as doctors and laundresses as much as lawyers.  Case-in-point:  Audrey!

Audrey, I miss you — and how you made my life so much easier!  I knew that when I brought my clothes to you to be cleaned and pressed, you’d put your whole heart into it! You always smiled and had a word of encouragement when I came into your shop. You even took a few moments to pray — for people either of us knew, and other customers, too! Your place wasn’t just a drycleaner’s shop, it was an oasis of excellence, a place where I could hang my troubles as you would hang those clothes.  It was like a little piece of Heaven on Earth. Some folks may prefer hanging out in an expensive coffee shop, but I liked hanging out at your place, amidst the steam, the starch, and yes, all those hangers!   I cried the day I learned you were closing up shop — for good. How could that be good?  Who would make sure that my hand-washed at home delicates would be pressed with precision, to keep me looking as pert and sharp as the creases you put in my trousers? It may seem like a little thing, but it was a BIG thing to me! You served us, Audrey, and communicated the love of God in doing so. Did you know that caring for clients’ clothes was your ministry? How can we ever thank you?

Doing all for the glory of God, and performing our tasks of daily living “as unto God,” is meant to cause a cascade of praise and thanksgiving that reverberates through the unseen atmosphere, with the power to “renew the face of the Earth” (2 Cor. 9) and to bring forth the kingdom of God. The joy to be found in career is not about what’s in it for us, but all in the serving.  When we serve, with an open and generous heart, we find purpose, renewal and calling.  In this world, we need carnival barkers and baristas, bankers, band leaders and baby sitters. We need every kind of person to do every kind of work, and to do that work with GUSTO — generosity, understanding, sensitivity, truth and obedience to God. 

Ordinary human effort, powered by deliberate following of the Holy Spirit and performed expressly for the love of God and other people, has mighty supernatural transformative power. It’s not only pastors, priests, nuns and nurses who must understand that their career is experienced as a direct call from God. We all do.  When we regard our work as being in mission — no matter where we are sent — we have something to look forward to every day. We can look forward to the privilege of being invited to help renew the face of the Earth. We can experience the best part of waking up — greeting God with thanksgiving for a brand new day, and for a cup that overflows.  Make mine caramel cappuccino, please!

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