Monday, November 29, 2010

In the fullness of time

This evening's vespers, prayed at nearby St. James parish, included the following lines from Ephesians 1:

God has given us the widsom
To understand fully the mystery
The plan he was pleased
To decree in Christ

A plan to be carried out
In Christ, in the fullness of time,
To bring all things into one in him,
In the heavens and on earth.
Sometimes, it seems as though my efforts to share Christ in the workplace are a complete mystery. I may think, "How do they all fit together? When will they bear fruit? Are they really doing any good at all?"

But I am encouraged to think that these efforts will reach their completeness in Christ. Even the efforts that seem to be incomplete now will be carried out by Him "in the fullness of time."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"You're wearing red too!"

Last Friday, the Washington DC archdiocesan young adult office suggested that folks should wear red in salute to Donald Wuerl's appointment as cardinal. So I wore my reddest plaid button-down shirt, which still is not very red, but I think fit within the spirit of the suggestion.

That afternoon, I ran saw a man at the bathroom sink wearing a very bright red shirt. His shirt was at least as red as Cardinal Wuerl's new hat. Was he part of the archdiocesan salute as well? Was he excited about having a local bishop appointed to be cardinal? Or was the bright red shirt the last clean one that he'd had in his closet at the end of the week?

I considered exclaiming, "Hey, you're wearing red too! Is your shirt for Cardinal Wuerl?" Ecclesial appointments are not part of the usual office bathroom chit-chat and he might have been completely clueless. But connecting with colleagues about Church news might help bring to the front the Gospel that the Church wishes to share.

I'd never spoken with this red-shirt man before nor even seen him. If I had known him or even known that he was a fellow Catholic, could or should that have affected what I might have said to him? Are there good ways to bring up Church news with colleagues? What other "in the news" events might allow such topics to be prudently introduced? (For the record, I kept all of these questions to myself and didn't say anything at all. Did I miss an opportunity?)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quietly evoking curiosity

This Norman Rockwell painting caught my attention because it is printed on the top of a picnic basket owned by my parents. But I think that it may also brilliantly capture the spirit of office missionary work.

The two men on the left exhibit obvious curiosity. What has evoked it? The woman and boy are not speaking to the men. They are not doing anything with fast movements or energetic outbursts. But by their actions, they have put forth something unexpected in the restaurant. They have made their faith attractive. They have not thrust it upon anyone. But by their example, they have offered it for others to see and consider.

This painting reminds me of St. Francis' familiar emphasis on the power of one's example. "Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words." But it also reminds me of one of my favorite's exhortations of Pope John Paul II. "We must never impose, but always propose Christ."

By praying for their food, by quietly but distinctly allowing their faith to be seen, have this boy and woman not proposed Christ to whom they are praying?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saints of the desk

Today is the feast day of St. Martin de Porres, a 16th-century Dominican friar from Peru. St. Martin is primarily renowned for his humility and selflessness. But he was also a diligent worker.
One biography tells the story of how at a young age, he became a servant in the Dominican priory and worked so diligently that he became known as the "Saint of the broom."

For those of us who work in an office, may we follow St. Martin's example and work with such great diligence and selflessness that perhaps we will one day be known as "Saints of the desk."

(I obtained St. Martin's picture from this site.)