Over a lifetime, work is the single most energy- and time-consuming pursuit of most adults today, for both men and women. Work, whether paid or unpaid, is also a source of identity, community, creativity and meaning for many. The phrase meaningful work has been used to describe socially redemptive jobs like social work, church work and health care, as well as government, science and engineering jobs that attempt to solve social problems. But the term can be misleading. For honest work itself has meanings that go beyond the economic necessity to support oneself, one’s family and the local economy. Work develops and hones skills, builds character, frames time and sets up a public rhythm. Work challenges assumptions and faith.
How, exactly, does work intersect with faith? The particularities may depend on the work itself.
We have asked practicing Catholics across a variety of fields to describe briefly how they regard their faith and their work when they consider them together. What is the interplay between the two? In what ways has their faith influenced their work—perhaps strengthened certain decisions they have made, governed relationships with clients or co-workers, been instrumental in their very choice of what work to do, given them tenacity and hope, shaped their positive view of the work they do? Just as important is this twin consideration: In what ways has their work influenced their faith—perhaps caused them to understand some particular tennet, sparked certain questions or reflections, enabled them to see in their very own lives some contemporary application of biblical truths or ancient Christian wisdom?
In this, America’s annual vocation issue, we present the first in an occasional series of short pieces that will feature workers’ thoughtful reflections. We invite readers to tell us about their own experiences of faith and work.
"Broadcasting Faith," William F. Baker
"Business Plan," Kerry Robinson
"Character Driven," Peter A. Quinn
"Full Disclosure," Terrence Berg
"Faith Healing," Allan Woods
"All God's Children," Agnes Nixon
"A Matter of Faith," Thomas A. Cahill
"Late-Night Catechism," Mary Lynn Hendrickson
"Union Made," Clayton Sinyai