SummaryCatholic moms and daughters aren’t the only ones called to make their work holy! Mary Donellan shares advice from Fr. Lasance for Catholic dads and sons.
When we consider the virtue of industry, it’s possible our minds fall to the thousand little details of upkeep in our homes: cleaning, cooking, laundry . . . the list goes on!
And much of this, usually, falls in the woman’s daily sphere, especially in the Catholic homeschooling family. Most of us wouldn’t have it any other way!
However, the virtue of industry also has a powerful meaning for the men and boys in our Catholic homeschooling families. They are also asked to sanctify their work in diligence, patience, and obedience to authority and to God.
Yet, this can be an even more challenging task for them than for the women in homeschooling families (hard as that might be to believe when we’re mopping the floor again!).
Working in the world
There’s a simple reason for this. Our men usually must go out into the world (where so much in our culture runs contrary to virtue) to work and provide for their families.
Whether he’s the main provider or the son who’s out earning his own wages, the man often must venture out onto spiritual war zones that the rest of us are blessed to be spared from when it comes to daily work.
Admitted: my life experience is confined to being a Catholic woman. So, while I admire my own father and brother and daily learn from them about masculine virtue, I obviously can’t speak from or to the man’s or boy’s perspective!
But, I feel sure I identify with many Catholic women in the homeschool, who want to help inspire their husbands/fathers/sons/brothers in their pursuit of this virtue of industry, which transforms any ordinary task into work that’s pleasing to God.
We want to make it easier for our men to sanctify their work, whether it’s through our words, example or, most importantly, our prayers.
So, whether you’re the father, son, mother, or daughter in your homeschool, let’s explore the virtue of industry, but let’s consider the value and vital importance of its masculine application, both inside and outside our homeschools.
Taking up “the bow of work”
One of my favorite Catholic writers, Fr. Lasance, speaks eloquently on this. In his writings to Catholic young men, he refers to the virtue of industry as “taking up the bow of work.”
“What is the serious side of life? It is the season of work . . . Work belongs especially to the duties of young men; among his spiritual weapons, I include the bow of work. Therefore do you, my friend, arm yourself with this bow when you sally forth to make acquaintance with the serious side of life.”
It’s inspiring to contemplate how God transforms the virtues into special kinds of weapons for the men in our homes (industry being no exception). What Catholic women in the homeschool cultivate as the virtue of industry becomes a real weapon of holy work to men who go out into the world.
But why, for men, must industry become a weapon, a bow of work? Fr. Lasance explains to his male audience (my emphasis):
“Work is a law of existence, ordained by God himself. Everyone who refuses to comply with this law incurs the risk of losing, not only his higher vocation here upon earth, but also . . . the crown of eternal glory in heaven. Therefore you must not hesitate for a single instant to submit willingly to the law of labor, and thus to take the serious side of life in a serious spirit.”
Work is serious, because not only does it go towards sustaining each family and mankind, but also because God explicitly ordained it. If we neglect work (which justly mortifies our bodies following the Original Sin), we risk losing our souls.
Work is for both men and women, but upon men’s shoulders does the hardest toil often fall.
Men need to be armed with a virtue that directs them, propels them, and gives them strength and sharpness to pierce through the moral fog of the world, so they can sanctify their work in the sight of God. The analogy of a bow is very apt here!
Directing your intention
Once a Catholic father or son takes up the bow of work and wants to sanctify his work, despite the difficulties of the world, his next step is simple.
To grow in the virtue of holy work, he needs to look toward those who’ve wielded this weapon with the most expertise and learn from their skill.
Fr. Lasance doesn’t delay in referring men to the example of Christ in Nazareth:
“Jesus Christ did not choose for His foster-father an emperor who occupied the throne of the Roman Empire, nor a member of the Roman senate . . . He chose a man who had spent his whole life in hard labor . . . What a distinction for work does this fact furnish!”
Fr. Lasance quotes another Christian writer, Heltinger:
“Christ, the Son of the carpenter, ennobled work, once and forever, and even the lowest kind of manual labor. The ancient command: ‘In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread,’ was hallowed by Him, was changed into a blessing, a service rendered to God, and an expression of love to Our Lord.
“[Work] is a tonic to strengthen man’s moral nature, a task performed in the service of Christ, a means of practicing every virtue, a school of sanctification…”
According to Heltinger, wielding the virtuous bow of work means performing every task in the service of Christ.
Being in the service of Christ doesn’t mean all men must be missionaries or work for religious institutions. Rather, it indicates all men—regardless of their workplace—must direct their intention and spiritually dedicate their work (even the work that’s frustrating, repetitive, or apparently fruitless) to the service of Christ.
By performing whatever work they have with as much patience, diligence, and uprightness as they can, Catholic men become skilled at using the bow of work and growing in its virtue.
The reason for this is simple: they are imitating Christ and St. Joseph, the patron of all providers.
Instead of letting their work become an end in itself, they make it the holy means by which they grow in virtue and provide for their families.
An easy way to consecrate work
With all this said, one particularly easy way for Catholic men to consecrate their work to Christ daily comes in the form of ejaculations or short prayers.
Pious ejaculations whispered (or prayed mentally) throughout the day have been a staple of traditional Catholic prayer, for any situation, for centuries.
Not only are they indulgenced, but they consecrate your current actions to God. What better place to offer them than in the workplace?
They’re not demanding on time or energy, but can be spiritually powerful if said with a good intention and disposition. They can make dull or difficult work a mine of grace for the Catholic man in his workplace.
Here is a sample (the full list can be found at this link: http://www.fisheaters.com/prayers.html#last):
- May the Holy Trinity be blessed. (Roman Missal
- Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ commands
- O Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for Thee
- O Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee.O Heart of Jesus, all for Thee.
- Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
- My God and my all.
- O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Luke 18:13)
These words of Fr. Lasance seem perfect for all our Catholic fathers and sons engaged in any work:
“Regard your work—be it easy or difficult, lofty or lowly—as a precious memorial, a valuable relic, of the holy house in Nazareth. There, indeed, your work also has been ennobled and sanctified.”
God bless you!