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Sunday, October 23, 2016
A spirituality of work
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¬†From the Catholic Media Office Today, the Committee for the World of Work of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales publish 'A Spirituality of Work', which brings together prayers and Church teachings on work. In his foreword, Bishop John Jukes OFMConv, chairman of the Committee for the World of Work, offers the booklet 'as a contribution to the awakening of the Catholic Church to the blessing given the human race by God by the gift of work. '[It] will serve to remind those who use this booklet in a spirit of discovery and reflection that work is part of the mystery of God's loving will for the human race' (p3). Chapter 1, 'Work in the sacred scriptures', examines the place of human work in God's plan since the beginning. 'Though the Bible does not develop a systematic treatment of work as part of the divine plan for humankind, it presents a broad picture that clearly demonstrates how work is a constitutive part of God's purpose for our race' (p5). Although modern life is 2000 years away from the New Testament, 'the Gospel of Work flows as a direct consequence of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ' (p10). Chapter 2, 'The Church's teaching on work', follows the scriptural presentation with an outline of how the Church's teaching on work has developed, particularly as expressed in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and in the writings of the modern popes. 'Because work is a human activity, so closely a part of this world, it is crucial to never lose sight of how work itself also relates to God and how it must be directed towards him' (p19). In creating wealth, work can also be dangerous, and so 'a spirituality of work is vital' (p. 21). Chapter 3, 'Human dignity and the value of work', explores this further, in the context of human dignity and the wider society. 'Work gives a person the means to become an active member and stakeholder of the society in which he or she lives' (p25). Particular reference is made to the examples of Catholic workers such as George Woodcock (former General Secretary of the TUC), Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) and Lech Walesa. 'The workplace gives Christians the opportunity to spread the Church's social doctrine through the service of justice and the common good, the cultivation of the virtues, a life of active charity, and a commitment to ordering all material goods and human activities to the glory of God and the common good' (p37). The fourth chapter provides prayers and meditations for individuals and for use in groups and church services. 'Prayer for work and in work starts from the conviction that work is God's good gift to us as human beings commissioned by him to carry out the task of shaping and adorning his creation. Prayer helps us to focus and reflect on this task' (p39). A final section provides a list of further Catholic resources. 'A Spirituality of Work' is available for £2.50 per copy from the Catholic Media Office, 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX; cheques payable to 'Catholic Media Trust'.
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