Whether you are a priest or a preschool teacher, whether you clean houses or crime scenes, you can transform your work into a source of strength, holiness and joy (yes, joy!). In the pages of Sanctify Your Life, written by Saint Pope John Paul II’s mentor, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, you’ll find out how to transform even the worst job situation into an opportunity to grow in holiness. No matter where you work or what you do, Cardinal Wyszvnski’s words can be transformative.
Thanks to his advice, you don’t have to struggle for holiness at work anymore! Here are five pieces of advice from Cardinal Wyszvnski’s book that you can implement today at work!
See God’s will at work even in the small tasks
“Every man who is performing useful and purposeful work is appointed to it by God,” writes Cardinal Wyszynski. “God calls us by a vocation or an inclination, a fancy or a sense of mission, or through compliance and obedience to our superiors. Man is appointed by different methods, so that his labor may bear fruit.”
What we do during our work hours – at home or at the work place – should be regarded as doing God’s will. “We must be faithful even in small matters,” the cardinal explains, “the great God ordained them and by faithfulness to God and love for Him, everything becomes great. For these little things are bound up in the plan and order of the world; they are included in God’s thoughts and commands. God foresaw these things, gave the energy for them, allotted them a time and place, and appointed their goal and executor. Man, by his submission, is the executor of God’s universal plan in its details.”
Praying through work
The Benedictine rule of ‘pray and work’ is something that Catholics are familiar with. We’re told to wash dishes for the Lord, and offer up even the most menial tasks for him. “But this is a difficult thing to accomplish,” writes Cardinal Wyszynski. “For conscientiousness in work and the turning of our attention to God are at odds with one another. When we are fully absorbed in our work, we forget about everything, about the external world, and all the more about prayer.” So how is praying through work possible?
To solve the problem, Cardinal Wyszynski urges us to recall that work is a cooperation with God. “Every activity brings us directly back to God’s activity. This is what is common both to work and to prayer, in which we also meet God. Furthermore, to work is to enter into God’s work, into the work of His creation” he explains. “Work and prayer are not alien to each other, therefore, even at the outset. In fact, prayer in work will only be a conclusion drawn from these truths; it will be bot the necessity of work and at the same time its joy.”
Look at work through the lens of redemption
On our journey to Heaven, we can’t skip over any opportunity that offers us grace and salvation. Work is no different, Cardinal Wyszynski writes. “The toil of daily work is not hopeless. It can become the medicine of corrupted human nature. With the help of toil, we can struggle against the corruption brought about in us both by Original Sin and by our own sin.”
Even though work can be challenging sometimes, it offers us hope. “The sweat of one’s brow and labor of one’s hands do not debase; they raise up and exalt. Work becomes an instrument, one of the means of salvation. The toil of work is linked with the joy of victory over matter and over oneself. It is therefore a double joy. To the natural joy of a new task completed there is added a supernatural joy that the work is, in every respect, well done, since it brings us even further on our road to eternal life,” he writes.
Grow in virtues at work
There are numerous virtues that are associated with our daily work. “But there are a special group of virtues, which might be called ‘the virtues of work’ because they are seen most clearly in the work and because they are so necessary that without them it would be difficult to perform any work at all,” Cardinal Wyszynski writes.
What are these virtues of work that the cardinal is writing about? He goes on to describe the virtues of patience, longanimity (or forbearance), perseverance, constancy, mildness, and conscientiousness. The virtue of patience plays a special role in the workplace. It diminishes sadness from arising at work, and makes us better at our job.
Take time for silence at work
Our world is screaming with sound. “The whole world becomes more and more one great factory, Cardinal Wyszynski comments. “The streets of a city draw man into a vortex no less than the factory’s snake pit of conveyor belts. Within the city’s order there is a sort of disorder, a lack of harmony that attracts but fatigues.”
How can we take time for silence during the work day and escape the clamoring world around us? We don’t have to become a Benedictine or Trappist to experience silence, nor do we have to go off into the coat closet at work, or escape to the bathroom for a minute of peace.
Instead, Cardinal Wyszynski encourages his readers to seek inner quiet first. “The great silence out to be accomplished no only around us, but within us,” he writes, quoting the monastic custom from the Rule of Saint Benedict. “Being quiet is born not so much around us as within ourselves. To be quiet and concentrated does not mean one has to be in a peaceful, cloister-like, deserted place, far from all tumult. To say this would be an oversimplification and would not solve the problem at all.” Perfect quiet and solitude doesn’t depend on our earthly surroundings, but the state of our interior life at work.
Want to learn how to avoid burnout and home or in the office? Do you want to be able to transform your life and learn from your failures at work? Needing encouragement on how to hang in there during hard times? Pick up a copy of Sanctify Your Daily Life by Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski at your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute.