The ‘meaning of work’ at heart of day for lay ministers

| April 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

The ‘meaning of work’ at heart of day for lay ministers

Deborah Savage

Deborah Savage

Wherever Catholics work is where they are doing the “work of the Church,” where people are coming to know God and taking part in the salvation process, a seminary professor told a crowd April 14.

It is why “the work of human hands” — the phrase spoken by the priest on behalf of all as he offers God the community’s gifts and sacrifices at Mass — should take on great meaning for everyone, Deborah Savage said.

Savage, who teaches theology and philosophy at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, put the concept of human work in context for an audience of people who work at parishes and ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Although her talk was part of Spring Formation Day for some 200 people employed by the Church, Savage broadly defined work beyond what earns a paycheck to include daily tasks.

Her presentation was the first of a three-part series sponsored by the Coalition of Ministry Associations and the archdiocese. The second part, scheduled for Nov. 5 at Guardian Angels in Oakdale, will feature Sherry Weddell, author of “Forming Intentional Disciples.”

Savage, a St. John Paul II scholar, mined the late pope’s 1981 encyclical “Laborem Exercens” (“On Human Work”) and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the role of the laity in describing the relationship between human work and Christian faith.

What follows are takeaways from Savage’s talk:

  • Work can be a job to put food on the table, a fulfilling career or a vocation, a response to a call to put one’s talents in service to one’s family and community. Work is an answer to a call to serve.
  • Church ministers’ task is to help others discover their vocation —
    in some cases in the work they are already doing.
  • Since people spend 60 to 70 percent of our lives in one place, what possibilities exist in that sphere that advance a relationship with God?
  • There is a temptation for fragmentation, to separate faith from life itself. That gap can become a way of life, the trap of a divided self. But the work of a Christian disciple is a 24/7 occupation.
  • There is no gap between faith and work. Faith is to be lived in and lived out in whatever world people live it.
  • Forget balance. People have to ask, how can I find a way to integrate my most deepest longings with what I do? The key to unlocking that door may be to understand the meaning of work.
  • The vineyard that Christ talks of as described in Matthew 21-22 is the whole world, which is to be transformed into his kingdom.
  • The worst sin in our society is not sexism or racism, but classism. Cleaning ladies and gardeners have as much dignity as the people who hire them.
  • Work is the place to acquire and practice the virtues.
  • A job well done is a form of beauty.
  • Whatever gifts a person is given, he or she is to put them to work in transforming the world and returning all things to Christ.
  • To save the world is not the dream of an idealist, that’s our job.
  • The priests’ job is to nourish people and to encourage them to give it their best shot.
  • A person’s work is a means of coming to know God.
  • Our days are defined by work. If you don’t work, you won’t be happy.
  • Work is a fundamental dimension of human existence. It is in work that we carry out the ongoing work of human existence.
  • Work is the key to the social question: How do you live in peace and justice? St. John Paul II says the key is to understand work.
  • The value of work is found in the fact that the one doing it is a person.

Tags: , ,

Category: Local News