I’d like to introduce you to a new saint, or, share some nuggets from a familiar one. I believe everyone can relate to him because he teaches seeking holiness in our everyday lives, especially at work, whatever our tasks may be. We each do some sort of work, either at a place of employment or at home, and we can grow closer to and honor God simply by our ordinary tasks.
St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975) was a Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei (“Work of God”); its message is “Work, family life, and the ordinary events of each day are opportunities for drawing close to Christ, and making Him known to others” (opusdei.org). He wrote much on various topics related to holiness in everyday life. I find many of his reflections inspiring as I’m in the “trenches of life.” He says, “Your ordinary contact with God takes place where your fellow men, your yearnings, your work and your affections are. There you have your daily encounter with Christ. It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind” (Conversations with Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, No. 113).
This sounds like great news to me. As powerful as the Mass, adoration, the sacraments, retreats, and faith gatherings are, St. Josemaria tells us that in times of ordinary activities, amidst material things, we can encounter God. In fact, he says “we must sanctify ourselves” in these things and during these times. He encourages us to use the sacraments and prayer as well as a crucifix and picture of Our Lady to help keep our mind focused throughout the day.
St. Josemaria emphasizes that love should propel us, and we should do all for love. “Before God, no occupation is in itself great or small. Everything acquires the value of the Love with which it is done” (Furrow, No. 487). It doesn’t matter if we’re the CEO of a business or doing laundry at home. All work can help us grow closer to the Lord and serve Him. That’s one of my favorite parts of the Christian life: God calls every one of us to holiness, in the unique aspects of our lives. I’m thankful for St. Josemaria’s words and encouragement as I strive for holiness. “Just live your normal life; work at your job, striving to fulfill the duties of your state in life, growing, improving each day” (Friends of God, No. 273).