If you are Catholic in today’s world, you may find yourself coming face to face with people around you that make you feel as though you want to hide your faith. You may find yourself constantly defending or explaining Catholicism to your co-workers, employees, customers, bosses, or patients. Many of us try to achieve a balance of our work life and faith life, but over time the tension between the two can tempt you to simply keep quiet and hide your Catholic identity from the world.
I have worked for both Catholic and Non-Catholic companies over the years and I have found that it is possible to live your faith in the secular work-place. I discovered this when I realized that we as lay Catholics, while working in the world, must remember to work at our jobs for the Lord. For me, relating my day-to-day work with St. Joseph not only helped me get through the workday as a person of faith, but also grew my faith deeper in the Lord.
St. Joseph in the modern sense was an “average Joe.” He was a carpenter who worked with his hands every day ,rested on the sabbath day, and spent time with his family. He was a man who probably had struggles working, living with his community, and trusting God’s plan in his life as a working man. We all know that he was a caring husband to Mary and foster-father of Jesus. We do not know much of Jesus’s childhood or that day to day life in which Joseph as the working provider for his family. But we do know he trusted God’s plan and had faith. I can imagine he questioned the Lord from time to time, was physically and emotionally tired, and had the weight of the world on his shoulders as he helped raise the Son of God as a working lay man. His fellow carpenter workers, clients of his, friends, family, and neighbors likely had conversations with him about religious beliefs, the coming of the savior, and God. And all while having these day-to-day conversations, Joseph knew that his son was the savior for his people.
When I have talked with a co-worker, client, neighbor, or even have had thoughts to myself struggling to find the strength and courage to defend, understand, and stand by my faith in God, I remember St. Joseph. He was able to live his life as a working lay person who had, probably one of the most stressful jobs, but was devoted to God the father and trusted in this word. St. Joseph did not let those around him persuade him, he stood by his faith when times were hard and worked, prayed, and provided for his family – all while defending his faith and his God.
Most of us are “average Joes,” living our lives as lay people, all while trying to live our Catholic faith and work in a world that often seems anti-Catholic. The difference between Catholic workers and others is that we do not only find praise in our earthly superiors and the work itself, but also find peace and satisfaction knowing that our work pleases God the Father too. We live in a world where evil prowls around looking for those who are lost and afraid. We must not despair, but rather have hope and strength to stand our ground, knowing that God is with us, even when we do not feel like He is. Our workplaces can be challenges to our Catholic faith in the secular world we live in today. If we rely on the Lord to live our morality, faith, and day-to-day work, we will find not only inner peace but also the strength to go about our work lives with courage and encouragement just as St. Joseph did.