By Amber Kinloch
“Exterior work should not only become an obstacle to man; on the contrary, it should help him to sanctification. The very fact that work takes up the larger portion of our life induces the thought that God could not arrange life in such a way that man has his back turned on Him for so long.”
So argues Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Sanctify Your Daily Life, a thought-provoking book that shows the reader how to sanctify work. His focus is not on quick, practical tips (that’s more in St. Josemaría Escrivá’s line), but on explaining the whys and hows of work.
Why do we work? How can we pray through work? Why is it difficult? How do we draw close to God and others through our work?
The Cardinal answers these questions in 22 short, substantial chapters that progress from examining the purposes of work and how it was meant to be, to how it is post-Original Sin and what we can do about it. He writes as a clergyman intimately interested in and appreciative of the layman and his work.
He explains high, intangible things like the virtues of patience and longanimity in an accessible way that makes you see the importance and relevance of them. Seeing how the matter of work troubles his fellow men, he enlightens them with insights like this:
“Almost every sort of work consists of the repetition of a long series of monotonous acts that make up one main activity or produce one result. There are almost no simple acts, complete in themselves; every act is composite, has its own physiology, its own set of actions and movements. And it is just this, the repetition of effort (even though it is a small effort) that is wearisome.”
Cardinal Wyszynski’s words constantly encourage the reader as he teaches them how to embrace their work and do it for God. To this soon-to-be-Blessed, work is not just drudgery or a way to pass the time. It is as necessary to man as sleep and nourishment. Nor does the Cardinal distinguish between different sorts of work. If it’s honest and good (yes, even down to cleaning the toilet), it has value in his eyes, for, “The value of a human act does not depend on what sort of work one does, but on how one does it, on the degree of one’s love and submission to God.”
Curl up with this book in a quiet corner and savor his words of wisdom and counsel. They will enrich both your work and your spiritual life.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.