REFLECTION: Turning work into contemplation PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 12:00

We need to learn this skill of turning our work, both big and small, into prayer and an abiding conversation with God. If we are to be consistent to our faith that our life is supposed to be a life with God, then we have to know how to make our daily affairs an occasion for keeping a living relationship with God.

There should be a streaming awareness that we are with God even when we are doing the most mundane activities. This is the goal that we should try to reach, overcoming what separates our life from the life of God. While it’s true that there is distinction between the two, there’s supposed to be unity between them.

This affirmation has basis. It’s not gratuitous. It is founded on the truth that God made us his image and likeness, and children of his, meant to participate in his very own life. That’s his will. That’s the reality.

In the first place, God is everywhere. We don’t have to look far to find him, since he is at the very core of our being. If we keep ourselves humble and simple, allowing the faith to work in us, we will realize that even in our inmost thoughts and feelings, we will always find him. We may not totally understand him, but we know he is with us.

The big task we need to do is how to keep ourselves humble and simple, so that faith can work effectively in us. Our problem is that we tend to be proud, to be self-sufficient, to think that we ultimately are our own being. We tend to think that our relationships with others and with God, while convenient, are not necessary.

The task involves the constant effort to be humble and simple, allowing our faith to have full play in us, converting us into contemplatives, seeing God and being with him even while working, and even when we are immersed in the middle of our worldly affairs.

We would understand that God is also in our earthly and temporal concerns, since after all everything comes and belongs to him. Even if we mess up his work, and go against his providence, God always manages to be in everything, and does everything to bring us back to him.

But we need to cooperate, because as St. Augustine once said, while God created us without us, he cannot save us without us. We need to correspond to this will of God in freedom and love for us to return to him.

We just have to do everything to put ourselves into this dynamic orbit of God’s life and love. We need to be convinced of this truth of faith, and from there develop the necessary attitudes, skills and virtues to achieve the goal meant for us.

Since work is a daily activity for us, one major part of becoming contemplatives is to turn our work into prayer. This can happen if we develop the habit of doing mental prayer everyday, studying the doctrine of Christ and of the Church, especially about how work is vital link we have with God.

Mental prayer allows us to create the proper mind frame we need to sustain our effort to become contemplatives all throughout the day. In a manner of speaking, that’s where we see the relevant principles and helpful theories we need to put our desire into practice.

Relevant testimonies of saints are aplenty, giving us concrete examples of how to proceed in that plan to become contemplatives. In this regard, we can cite some words of saints that are derived from their own experiences.

St. Josemaria Escriva said: “We start with vocal prayers… First one brief aspiration, then another, and another…till our fervor seems insufficient, because words are too poor…then this gives way to intimacy with God, looking at God without needing rest or feeling tired.”

We also need to practice interior mortification, disciplining our mind, heart and senses, so they learn to be recollected and to focus their attention on God and the things of God.

Even in our intense work, we can still contemplate God, because if we offer that work to God, then it does not separate us from God. St. Thomas Aquinas said:

“When of two things the first is the reason for the second, the attention of the soul to the second does not hinder or lessen its attention to the first.” This is how we can turn our work, no matter how intense, into contemplation. --FR. ROY CIMAGALA