As we say in South Louisiana… this is Lagniappe, y’all… MERRY CHRISTMAS! MAY I SUGGEST: KEEP JOURNEYING WITH THE WISE MEN!
Christmas always brings about reflection, and as a working Catholic mom, reflection about the year always brings about interesting insight. This year, I am choosing to focus my reflection on prayer…Wait…wait…don’t leave the post yet…I think I can help. I think there are great tips about prayer that just don’t become “strategy,” but actually become conversation with Our Lord.
My prayer life has been up and down this year. Lots of working Catholic moms that I talk to say the same thing. It is difficult to juggle all things, and sometimes we are trying to “fit” prayer into the day. I heard someone say recently that your work is your prayer…
Translation for all: No matter what you are doing throughout the day, you are responding to God’s grace and pull to be in relationship with Him.
Translation for Mary (me): My work as a higher education administrator is for God. My time throughout the day belongs to Him, and I must honor that through the way in which I do my work, and how I respond to His graces throughout my work day.
Ok…Lesson learned this year for sure! (Please let it stick, please let it stick, please let it stick).
As Catholics, we are blessed to have all sorts of ways to pray. We are not limited to emotional heartfelt praying (though that is also good for the soul). In the wisdom of Holy Mother Church, we have a plethora of prayers to choose from throughout the day. In fact, some of these prayers are prescribed at certain times of the day (i.e. the Angelus). Some are short ejaculatory prayers, which are easy to memorize, and can be said mentally or aloud throughout the day. That’s sort of where I want to go with these thoughts today.
I’ve been praying morning and evening prayers from my Mother Love prayer book. This prayer book is for Christian Wives and Mothers, with a special information section about the Confraternity of Christian Mothers. Even if you are not part of the Confraternity, this little book is filled with prayer suggestions. I love using this book, and it has brought me much happiness on how to pray.
For the last few weeks during Advent, I realized that I could use some of these ejaculatory prayers throughout the day as I work. And guess what? You can, too! This morning, I even thought of different scenarios where for my work, they would be perfect.
Here are a few of these prayers to ponder:
1. All for the greater honor and glory of God!
OK…here is a perfect prayer to begin your day! If you think about it, everything we do, whether we work in or out of the home, is for the greater honor and glory of God. The way I supervise staff, the way I respond to students, the way I respond to my supervisor. How are others to know we live a different type of life – one rooted in the love of Christ – if not by our actions at work? If we remember first thing in the morning, before even pouring our blessed coffee, that this is all for the greater honor and glory of God, how much more will our actions be in line with His Holy Will throughout the day? AND…what if we repeat this several times in the day? For example, when I am coaching an employee, I get very nervous, and start to wonder if the employee will take it well. Will they accept it in the same way it is given? If I start with this prayer first, it sets my attitude for the coaching session. I am able to stay focused on what is needed from the conversation, knowing that I am doing this as part of my job, yes, but delivering it in a spirit of love and support. That employee’s best interest is foremost in my mind. This prayer helps me to stay focused in my attitude about this, and helps me stay on the right path in the conversation.
2. My God and my all.
ANYTIME during the day, this ejaculatory prayer is easy to recite, and perfect for the situation. I would offer one way I have used this prayer. Have you ever dreaded the long meeting days during the work week? I know I have. I HATE MEETINGS! You can definitely confirm this with my staff at work. Knowing I can take God into that meeting, in my heart, I am comforted. I know that I am not alone. I know that even things within the meeting are a part of God’s plan, and that I can lean on Him during the meeting, when I find myself wandering in my thoughts.
3. Lord, please help me today to be a good wife, mother, and neighbor.
This one is filled with meaning for me. If you are male, please substitute the words as appropriate. If you are single, same thing. If you have no children, same thing. Any mixture of the above, please do the same thing… I have to remember at work, faith is a mixture of both my beliefs and my actions. I don’t have a “blind faith.” I have a “Lived FAITH.” At work, I am still wife, mother, neighbor. Though my husband, and children are not at work with me, I am mindful of them throughout the day. The decisions I make at work are a reflection of all those parts of me, not just my “work-outside-the-home” part. At work, I am sometimes known as “Momma Mary.” I used to HATE that because in my line of work, it is not good to be thought of as replacing the momma. However, I have now come to appreciate that role, and think of it as informal feedback. To me, it means I am being nurturing, caring, relational, protective, informational, transformational, etc. In my line of work, that is good leadership. This prayer helps me to stay integrated and focused on this very role.
4. (this one is not in the book): Jesus, I trust you.
How many times have you thought that perhaps you were not in the right career? Or the right job? Or the right town? Or the right family? As I wrote that, in my head I was saying, “Amen, sister!” I have thought all of these things at some point in my life. Recently, my friend Staci (who I co-host with on Faith and Good Counsel radio show in Baton Rouge), gave me this statement. I say it now throughout the day. When I think, “Why am I called to this work?,” I quickly throw up a, “Jesus, I trust you.” When I think, “I want to stay at home with my children,” I quickly throw up a, “Jesus, I trust you.” When I think, “These burdens are too heavy. I have too much to do, too little time,” I quickly throw up a, “Jesus, I trust you.” Now, when you are “throwing it up,” do it with reverence and love, not obligation. I have found that to have the best result. The result, you ask? Constant attention to your relationship with Jesus. Nurturing of the graces He has given you. Peace in the moment you need it. A settling of your spirit of criticism. The list goes on – but you have to be open to what comes back to you on this one, for sure.
As we enter a new season in our Liturgical year, let us enter a new season in our hearts. As we ponder the great mysteries of our faith, and enter more fully into the Year of Faith, let us honor God in ALL that we do, including our work. Let us be mindful that nothing is wasted or ignored in our work. I try to remember that He has called me to this work, and He has given me all that is needed to do the things that must be done. I think of the teachers in Newtown, CT. In their work, they honored God. I think of my husband’s surgeons and therapists when he was in a coma and recovery. In their work, they honored God. I think of one past supervisor in particular. She was incredible in her job – had many new initiatives, mentored several students and staff, and had such a gracious attitude and personality. In her work, she honored God. When I operate in this way, sending little prayers to God all day, I am not “fitting prayer in.” I am being a prayerful person throughout the day, knowing it is only through God that I can even do the work I do. I am challenging myself when I say: Let us honor God this year in our work, using these short ejaculatory prayers to be mindful of His presence throughout our work day. Will you join me? And, by the way, if you have other suggestions, please let us know! Your words may be just what others need to hear.
Peace of Christ to you and yours this year!
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