Apr. 22, 2016

Time, Work and God in the checklist

The New Evangelization invites each christian to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. The church calls the new evangelization "re-proposing" the gospel. Pope Benedict XVI demanded that the the Gospel be re-proposed "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization. The christian faith today is experiencing a crisis of faith still, a faith that is daily challenged by so many factors including the phenomenon of time. Today's men and women are consumed in social and economic activities that they are almost victims of time. Although there is time for work, time for sports, time for social activities there is apparently less or no time for spirituality.

Apparently, human being is originally subject of work. We gain fulfilment from work and through work explore creation. In the American society, work becomes so vital especially given the financial challenges and responsibilities facing the individual. That means that we have to work ordinarily, we have to pay our bills. Pope John Paul 11 gives the reasons why man has to work in the encyclical Laborem Exercens. He recognizes the ethical and social values of work when understood in relation to God. In that sense, everyone works. According to the encyclical, "Toil is something that is universally known, for it is universally experienced. It is familiar to those doing physical work under sometimes exceptionally laborious conditions. It is familiar not only to agricultural workers, who spend long days working the land, which sometimes "bears thorns and thistles", but also to those who work in mines and quarries, to steel-workers at their blast-furnaces, to those who work in builders' yards and in construction work, often in danger of injury or death. It is likewise familiar to those at an intellectual workbench; to scientists; to those who bear the burden of grave responsibility for decisions that will have a vast impact on society. It is familiar to doctors and nurses, who spend days and nights at their patients' bedside. It is familiar to women, who, sometimes without proper recognition on the part of society and even of their own families, bear the daily burden and responsibility for their homes and the upbringing of their children. It is familiar to all workers and, since work is a universal calling, it is familiar to everyone" (Laborem Exercens, no.9).

When I reflect on the creation account, I notice that man's desire to work stems from his creator God. In creating the earth, God initiated work as a means of production. God created the earth in six days, that means he worked all through the times of creation. In creating man, God gave him capacity to work when he said, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen.1:28). However, after creating man, God rested on the seventh day. This brings to mind the need to evaluate the work already done. Here I ask a funny question about God. Was he just resting, or could he have used the rest-moment to do a spiritual exercise of reflecting on the work he made? I think God took a break to pray over the things he has created, and for that reason he saw that all was good (Cf. Gen.1:31). This is what I describe as the spirituality of work. This spirituality of work connects man with the spirituality of rest both as an individual and members of family. And for that usually, we describe Sunday as the day of rest.

Back to "re-proposing" the gospel to the faithful and our our attitude towards work and time. It is clear that the mentality of work and payment of bills threaten the spiritual fabric of many individuals and families. Some of us work ourselves out and become increasingly fatigued from work. We wish to go to church but can't. We wish to pray but can't. We have every good intention towards prayer but lack the motivation and zeal. This is where the home blessings team re-proposes the gospel in a variety of ways. The home blessings take prayer to individuals and homes by way of motivation and connection. The home blessings team recognize the fact that individuals still need to connect spiritually irrespective of the fact that they are totally engrossed in work. The home blessings help the faithful to recognize that:

1. Prayer is part of our daily life: The old maxim that "To work is to pray" remains pertinent here. Every individual should recognize that she is primarily a spiritual entity created in the image and likeness of God. As such, every action of the human person should be motivated by consciousness of the goodness and love which are major attributes of God. Actions performed out of goodness and love form what we call prayer. So even while the individual sleeps, she prays. If domestic and family activities are performed with love and goodness, such family is already engaging in prayer at least in the loose sense of it.

2. Prayers can tap into technology: The home blessings help families to recognize the use of technological gadgets as means to improve God's presence in their homes. For instance, televisions, radios and DVDs are used regularly in the homes. The mobile phone is also common nowadays. These gadgets can connect families with the divine. Home blessings bring this awareness to families. While husbands, wives and children perform their chores at home, they can consciously decide to play spiritual tunes and prayers to form part of their living environment. Such creates and aura of prayer in the home, and when done together, becomes a conscious spiritual exercise.

3. Put God in the family schedule: Many families have schedules for everything. There is time for getting kids ready for school, dressing them up and taking them out. There is time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is time for home-work, sports and getting out together. The kids gradually pluck themselves into these scheules and sometimes help to remind parents of what should come next in their checklists. Why not put God in that tight schedule of yours as well? That is what the home blessings team does for families. It reminds families to make a slot for praying together no matter how short. Say the Grace before meals together. Join hands together as family and form a circle in the living room just for ten minutes and tell God to fill your day with his presence. Just do it before you run off for the day's work. It works! A family that unites in prayer struggles together. Such family prays for everything. It stays together in good times and in bad. When family's concerns are lifted up in prayer, every member of the family becomes aware of it. If it becomes tradition, children begin to remind parents of time for family prayer.

The home blessings is thus one great avenue to take the message of Christ in a unique way to the people of God. Gone are those days when pastors sat down and waited for the flock to come. Just as businesses conduct drives and fairs in search of their customers, the home blessings search for the flock and make them feel the presence of God in their homes.