Work and Pray!

Sit down and listen

Mary and Martha are the two realities of the Christian life, work and prayer. Like Martha we too have earthly work to do, we are busy be it in school, in the family or elsewhere, most importantly we are distracted from our heavenly duties, that of praying. Having said that I think everyone agrees that work is important, even Jesus agrees with us after all he spent most of His life working with his father Joseph in a carpenter’s shop. So what did Jesus mean when he said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” In the above mentioned quote we can see that Christ is not against work in fact he referred to Mary’s action (listening to him) as better, that means that working is good). All that Jesus is asking of us is that we learn how to set our priorities right.

Creating a Balance

Although prayer is important and good, a balance needs to be found in order to have a good Christian life and continue to live. If we look at the history of the Catholic Church we find that the first monastic orders particularly the Benedictine monks had something to say about such work and prayer balance. In fact the Benedictine rule written by St Benedict, who was the founder and the mentor behind such a great order, wrote: “Idleness is the enemy of the soul, and therefore the brethren ought to divide their time between manual labor and devout reading. In the summer then, they should go out at dawn for four hours, to do the necessary work, and then spend two hours reading. Then, after lunch, let them rest in bed in complete silence — or if anyone wants to read for himself, let him read quietly enough not to disturb others. [Reading silently to oneself was almost unheard of.] If, however, the needs of the place, or poverty should require them to do the work of gathering the harvest themselves, let them not be downcast, for then they will be true monks, living by the work of their hands as our forefathers and the Apostles did. However, on account of the faint—hearten let all things be done with moderation. Above all, let one or two of the senior monks be appointed to go about the monastery during the reading time, and look out for any lazy brother giving himself over to idleness or vain talk, being unprofitable to himself and disturbing others. If — God forbid — such a monk is found, let him be punished on the first and second occasions. If he does not change, let him come under the correction of the Rule in such a way that others may fear.” In the above we have a perfect example of a monastic work and life balance. Having said that not all of us are called monks, but all of us are called to be part of God’s most holy Church, a Church whose membership must not be taken lightly, on the contrary it must be taken seriously.

Suggestions

  1. Everyday, if you have chance make sure to attend the most Holy Mass and pray for all, be it family, friends or strangers.
  2. At morning, midday and before you sleep try and pray the Angelus, which is a prayer meant to help us reflect better on the most holy Incarnation of our Lord. Every Sunday at noon, one can also join the Pope in reciting this precious prayer.
  3. One must try and make time to pray the rosary, which helps us reflect better on the Most Holy Mysteries of our Faith.
  4. Pray in your own style but pray!

Being the Good Samaritan

In today’s world where sometimes everyone seems to go about their business, without caring for the needs of others it is easy for us to be like the Levite or the priest in today’s parable. Speed is vital, be it wi-fi speed or athletic speed, but so is calm and attention for the needs of others.
The Good Samaritan might be seen as a parable, one of the many, in fact it is not. It is a way of life as Pope Francis said in today’s Angelus. The 266th pontiff continued to say: “What does it mean to ignore man’s suffering? It means to ignore God! If I do not approach that man, or that woman, that child, that elderly man or woman that is suffering, I do not come close to God.” In agreement with our dear Holy Father I would like to say that as much as God is found in the church, He is also found in our suffering brothers and sisters. As I write today’s reading, I can’t help but feel sad as South Sudan is back to war once again. South Sudan isn’t the only case, there are many unfortunate events in today’s world. In such situations where man is in control, the parable of the Good Samaritan might be the way of life that ought to be suggested.
As history shows us the Samaritans and the Jews were not the best of friends. The conflict began after the Jews returned from their exile and found that their fellow Jews had settled in the neighbouring land of Samaria, while they were exiled in Babylon. Thus the Jews and the Samaritans were sworn enemies. This parable is an answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor and to whom I must show as much love as to myself?” The answer Christ gives is simple; everyone without exception, even to one’s sworn enemies.

St Maria Goretti

As we celebrate the Year of Mercy it makes perfect sense to look back at St Maria Goretti as an Angel of Mercy, a forgiver to the man who killed her. So how did Maria, the daughter of Luigi and Assunta Goretti, become a saint and why?
Maria Goretti lived with her family in the Province of Ancona, first at Corinaldo and later at Colle Gianturco, after her family was forced to sell the farm and live with the Serenelli family. So, for 12 years Maria lived a simple life, farming together with her family. On July 5, 1902, while the rest of the family was away, Alessandro approached Maria with a 10 inch knife, threatening to kill her if she did not do what he said. He intended to rape her, and it came out later that he had tried twice before. Maria refused and began to fight him off. In a rage, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times. Until this point there is nothing special, except that it is a rape, which is not rare especially in today’s hypersexualized world we’re living in. Here comes the saintly part; eventually Maria died from her wounds, but not before completely forgiving her attacker and stating that she wanted him to be with her in heaven.
Such a powerful testimony by an 11 year old girl who lived such a humble life with her family, and who forgave her murderer on her death bed, stands as a reminder in today’s world that forgiveness and purity are worth striving for.