We all experience from burnout, lack of motivation, meaningful interactions, and a lack of time for other important ventures such as family time because of our work-lives. But we were not meant to live this way! In his book Sanctify Your Daily Life: How to Transform Work Into a Source of Strength, Holiness,& Joy, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski offers inspiration for turning your work-life into a source of joy and holiness.
1. The use of the fruits of work
“The principle of the common usage of good and of work for the benefit of our neighbors is not new, as many passages of Holy Scripture show. We are struck by two duties that we find there: almsgiving and work done that there may be something to give to the poor. First of all, there is the duty of almsgiving out of the goods that we possess. Of necessity, it follows that with private possession goes the duty of using good in common through almsgiving. But more noteworthy still is the duty of work itself to multiply good for our neighbors; needs, so that we have more to share with them. The Mosaic Law plainly set out that the poor must eat from the work of our hands. ‘Six years thou shalt sow thy ground, and shalt gather the corn thereof. But the seventh year thou shalt let it alone, and suffer it to rest, that the poor of thy people may eat, and whatsoever shall be left, let the beasts of the field eat it’ (Exod. 23:10-11). This regulation is peculiar, and offends our economic calculations. Man has a duty to work, but out of this work he has to share with his neighbors and even with animals. This also helps us to understand the spirit of common usage.”
2. Human work as cooperation with God
“Now our work does not belong to us wholly. For even in the most personal work we use powers and strength that are given to us by God, the Creator of nature. This work does not belong to us, for its character is not only personal but social as well. Neither can we wholly divert our work toward ourselves. So when we speak of ‘our work’ we are allowing ourselves some exaggeration. It is rather a simplification of our thought than a literal expression of the truth. The following words recall this fact: ‘Work at all your tasks with a will, reminding yourselves that you are doing it for the Lord, not for men; and you may be sure that the Lord will give the portion He has allotted you in return’ (Col. 3:23-24). God is the cause of all creation and the giver of strength and energy for work. He also directs human energies toward the plan He had established in the act of creation. God has called us to cooperate with Him, and granted us appropriate powers, abilities, and the initial preparation for work. He still governs the world that He has created, and carries out part of His government with the help of man.”
3. Prayer through work
“If work leads us to the love of God and one’s neighbor, there are certain obvious consequences. The first is that if we love God in work, it is impossible not to tell Him so. It is hard to practice love in the silence of one’s heart and thoughts. We cannot keep it a secret from God. Love must have its great avowal. And what is such an avowal but prayer? The second consequence is that if we love God, we long to please Him by yielding to His will. And this is also inevitable. Besides, it is impossible to love by word and tongue. We love by deed and truth. We give evidence of our love in that we try to please God by our submission. For in work there is also great humility, compliance, and love. In the heavy toil of work we say to God, ‘This is how God is loved!’ The third consequence is that if we love God, interiorly we want to submit our life to Him completely. We want to do what He has in mind, to seek what He seeks, to perform what He wants, to feel oneself part of His plan and intention, to subordinate fully one’s thoughts, feelings, strength, and human will to the commands of His will, and to act as He wishes! This, indeed, forms us inwardly in the image of God’s activity to the fullest extent possible. Finally, the fourth consequence is that if we love God, we wish to have the same intention in our work as He has. To God’s summons to ‘subdue the earth’ (Gen. 1:28), we reply, ‘Not mine, but Thy will be done’ (Luke 22:42). This intention of our work becomes its moral core. It give to it its supernatural value. By our intentions, we sanctify our ordinary, everyday activities. ‘Whatsoever you do, do it rom the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men’ (Col. 3:23)”
4. The mystery of redemption in work
“It can be seen from this that work is not the curse of man and that toil is not humiliating, for it contains hope. The sweat of one’s brow and the 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.”
5. Conscientiousness and diligence
“With conscientiousness goes diligence, which is the zealous performance of one’s duties. It arms us against the tendency to dawdle over our work, or to postpone it without proper reason. Diligence is also closely allied to long-suffering. The former stimulates to activity, the latter moderates; and this has a good effect on the work being done. Diligence performs this brotherly service for long-suffering by rousing it from any stagnation that might occur. These are the things that oppose diligence: delay through laziness, a dawdling attitude to work, failure to do it by the promised time, giving in to discouragement and dejection, and everything that makes our work drag endlessly. Diligence is supported by punctuality, the daughter of order and harmony, who’s rule is to do everything at the right time and according to a definite plan. Closely allied to diligence are integrity and reliability, the outward sign and the fruit of diligent work. Then we reach the stage of attaching such value to our promises that to say ‘I promise’ is as good as saying ‘it’s done.’ Knowing the value of our word, we are careful in making promises and undertaking obligations. This is a very beautiful virtue, and one that wards off many illusions. Indeed, it is greatly needed by all those people of ‘good will’ who bind themselves before they have fully understood what is involved and without thinking at all of the importance of keeping their word. Fidelity to one’s promises will result from the proper appreciation of what it is to give one’s word seriously.”k
For more insight and inspiration of how to sanctify your work, whether it be simple daily tasks or a toil and burden of jobs and careers, Cardinal Wyszynski gives a refreshing look at the goodnesses of work in his book Sanctify Your Daily Life: How to Transform Work Into a Source of Strength, Holiness, & Joy.