Do you ever think of your work as “Prayer in Action?”
I bring this up today because I believe that everyone of us is being “engaged” by God daily. We don’t always know how, and some days we may not feel up to the task. In fact, it is only rare that we get the insight to see that God was working directly through us. It is easier to say that God works through priests or others who take a leadership role in serving others. This is a trap, and it sets us up to believe that we don’t or can’t make a difference in spreading the good news of the Gospel.
One day a couple of years ago I asked one of our grounds staff in the Diocese of Oakland if he thought of himself as a minister of the Catholic Church. As you can guess he said “no.” He cited how he was baptized, tried to go to Church regularly, but admitted that he wasn’t always good at staying with it. He said he didn’t always pray and didn’t always go to Church. He then told me that his Catholic education was pretty basic and that he didn’t think he knew enough. He said he believed everything he was taught about Catholicism and that he just tried to be a “good person.”
So, I decided to prod him a little further. I asked him what he meant by “good person.” He started to tell me about his family and how he tried to be a good husband and father. He quickly moved on to his job and all of the little things he noticed at the cemetery. He told me how an elderly woman would come to visit the grave of her husband and how sad she was. He decided that we would help her place her flowers, and even took a little fertilizer to help the grass get a little greener. He just wanted her to know that there was someone else that noticed her sorrow and wanted her to feel better. As he told me a couple more examples, I stopped him and said, “Why don’t you think you are a minister?” He just shrugged his shoulders and said he was just doing his job the best he could.
Now most of you have probably heard the quote “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words,” which is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. I want to remind you that your actions and the “feeling” that they leave with a family will say more than any words that you speak. Each of you is preaching the gospel every day when you put your heart into your work. We are so fortunate to have a job that allows us to serve families. We have to remind ourselves that being a saint or a “good person” doesn’t require a fancy education or special credentials. Each of us is qualified to be a minister by our acts of kindness.
This week I think it is important that we take a look each day at how we can lift up the heart of another. These past four months have been a true test of our faith and yet it is an opportunity to go deeper. It seems as if God is giving us the opportunity to go deeper into relationships in our own families, in the relationships with our co-workers, and in serving families at our cemeteries and funeral homes.
During the pandemic, I know so many people feel helpless when it comes to assisting others. In fact, we pray for all those impacted by the virus, for those out of work, or those in need of food or shelter, but so many people feel like they aren’t able to do enough. When we are able to connect the prayers we carry in our heart with the work that is entrusted to us, we are able to put “Prayer into Action.”
We are blessed at CFCS to have jobs where God places families right in our midst. Thank you for being a minister of the Catholic Church!
With blessings and gratitude,