d. Spaces to experience the faith in businesses and organizations
The absence of God from public life cannot bring positive results. I already mentioned that society nowadays is living a kind of schizophrenia. The great majority of the population is religious, believes in God, and refers to God in the important moments of their lives. But, when they arrive to the workplace, they find that God disappears totally.
Another step to evangelize the workplace is for those who work in a business or organization to be able to experience and live out their faith. I do not see how the presence of God could offend anyone. To me, it seems normal and good for a business to be able to give public expression to the most important religious celebrations of the most represented religions. On some particularly important occasion, the business could even organize a religious service such as a Mass or some other type of celebration.
e. Creation of communities to evangelize the world of work: associations, groups, etc.
The final step of evangelization is to help Catholic organizations and groups so that their action of being leaven in the world is not limited to the specific business where they work, but so that it reaches all of society. Creating associations is something proper to the lay faithful. It is an exceptional way to form communities that are made to suit the needs of people. These communities help Christians to grow in their faith, find material and spiritual support, and have a place for formation, as well as influencing society in a positive way.
Here I also want to refer to the urgent need to promote and extend the movements and new groups of lay faithful which are dedicated specifically to evangelizing the workplace. The prejudices of the past, which have created a certain tension between parishes and movements, must stop. The mission of the Church cannot wait. Now more than ever, the world needs all our resources and energies to launch the New Evangelization.
Attitudes and ways of acting that are contrary to the Gospel are multiplying strongly and quickly. As Christians, we cannot present a disunited front. Christ prayed for all of us to be one (Jn 17:21) and not to live in communion is unchristian. It would show that we have not grasped the principle of charity, the only instrument by which we evangelize. Our testimony is not credible if we do not live fraternal charity among ourselves. We are facing a great task that is all the more necessary in a world that hears less and less of Christ.
f. Giving meaning to work
Carrying out these actions will not be sufficient if the people who spend their lives working lose sight of what they are working for, what meaning their work has, and what they are achieving. If they see that work is just a kind of punishment imposed on them, something necessary for their daily sustenance, they cannot evangelize, since they will have divided their will from their action. Work should be understood as part of life, as the place where God calls us to relate to men and to reach him; it is also the place where we can make the Kingdom of Christ a reality through our effort to evangelize and foster true progress, full of supernatural charity.
Evangelization reaches its zenith when everything about work takes on a more human character. Human Resource departments strive to bring people in line with the ideals of the business, but they often forget to integrate people with the fact that work is a path of self-fulfillment and personal enrichment, because it is the sphere where man realizes the vocation God has given him to dominate the earth and preach the Gospel (Gen 1:28 and Mk 16:15).
Work that is done well, starting off on the right foundations, is able to bring together both the body and the soul, matter and spirit, and man and his eternal destiny. In addition to being the ideal of every Christian, it should be the ideal of every business if it wants to withstand the test of time.
Catholics, by their faith in Christ and their commitment to charity, justice and truth, should carry out their work with a spirit of excellence, standing out for their professionalism, and strive honorably to achieve their goals and fulfill their commitments. Nothing is further from the Catholic ideal than mismanagement and irresponsibility. When we look at work that way, the employer-employee relationship that has caused so much tension in the past can be renewed and put in its proper place. There will no longer be a dialectical opposition. Both sides will work together for the good of the business and for the common good, since the business seeks to offer products and services that meet the needs of people and help them on their way to eternity.
Pope John Paul II encouraged us in his encyclical Laborem
Exercens, citing Gaudium et Spes:
"Especially in the modern age, the spirituality of work should show the maturity called for by the tensions and restlessness of mind and heart. ‘Far from thinking that works produced by man's own talent and energy are in opposition to God's power, and that the rational creature exists as a kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God's greatness and the flowering of his own mysterious design. For the greater man's power becomes, the farther his individual and community responsibility extends. ... People are not deterred by the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows. They are, rather, more stringently bound to do these very things.'" (from paragraph 25)
I wrote this essay about bringing the Gospel to the world of work so as to find an answer to the question that my father asked me many years ago: What can lay people do in the Church?
However, besides giving an answer to a question that could have been purely academic and speculative, I cannot refrain from pointing out various reasons why this task is more urgent now than ever. A large percentage of humanity has a job and works. They cannot continue thinking that work is the result of the curse of original sin, and they cannot continue with the idea that their action as Christians is limited to the parish. Christians dedicate the majority of their time to work, and work has a very important influence on their lives, habits, and behaviors. The progress that the Church makes in souls can be lost in the factory, and pastors cannot solidify their people's virtues and appreciation for religion when the daily influences and stimuli of life in the world have nothing to do with the life of the spirit. If we are not able to evangelize the workplace, we will see men continue to distance themselves from the faith, and grow ever more pagan.
The dehumanization of work due to lack of transcendent meaning is leaving societies empty and thirsty for the absolute. Souls' search for meaning can be perceived more and more. The challenges are true opportunities. The harvest is ready, and we need workers. In the past, it was thought that the workers of the Gospel were the pastors or consecrated people. Today, as we look out at this harvest, we see the need of lay faithful guided by the Holy Spirit who will carry out the Church's desires, which are the same as Christ's.
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