Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Work and Worry (August 13)

1. When we recite the Lord's Prayer, we say with confidence "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." This does not mean, however, that we renounce in a spirit of fatalism all right to action and initiative on our part.

Faith, says St. James, unless it has works, is dead in itself. (James 2: 17-26) The same applies to charity. (James 2: 13-17)

Faith and charity must be accompanied by action, which should always be inspired by the interior life. But our external activity should never be allowed to quench the flame of the divine life within us. If this should happen, our labour would grow sterile and would receive no blessing from God.

We should work hard, but should always act as if death might come at any moment. In other words, we should not become completely absorbed in our work, but should keep before our minds the ideals of the glory of God, our own sanctification, and the salvation of our neighbour. If our efforts seem to be successful, we should thank God. But if all our work appears to be in vain we should thank Him, just the, same, for such things happen with God's permission. Providence often guides events in its own way for the promotion of Gods's glory and for our greater good, which can be achieved through our humiliation as well as through our success.

If our spiritual outlook is in conformity with these principles, we shall be able to preserve our peace of mind, no matter how busy we may be.

2. There are many people who claim that they are working, for God and for souls. In fact, they do work hard and make great sacrifices, but at the first sign of failure they are disappointed and discouraged. Why is this? It is because they only believed that they were working for God and for His Church, whereas in their heart and soul they were more influenced by self-love and by a desire for the praise and approval of others. Their motives were not completely disinterested, and their sacrifices were not made entirely for God. Therefore they were disturbed by visions of success in human terms and were agitated at the prospect of failure.

The Saints worked hard also, but they never worried. They were always calm, because their attention was focused on Heaven rather than on themselves. As long as we work entirely for God and accept as His will the outcome of our efforts, everything will go well for us even when it seems to be going badly.

3. Some people imagine that they are not working properly unless they are worrying and fretting and attracting the attention of others. This kind of approach results in more agitation than action. These people are working more for worldly glory than for the glory of God, and their best efforts are ruined by self love. They have received their reward, (Mt. 6:2-5) and they cannot hope to be rewarded in the next life.

We should aim at a purity of intention which will inspire us to do everything for the love of God. We should rememberthat the internal action of grace is what matters most in the life of a Christian. If that is lacking, all our external activity is worthless in the sight of God.

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