WORKING WITH MARY---WHAT JOY!
Jesus, Mary and Joseph at work
For most of us when we think about Mary, meditate on her and contemplate her glorious, majestic and all-inspiring person, we probably see her in the posture of prayer. This is more than logical, correct and worthy of praise and promotion! Nonetheless, it is also true that Mary had a very active life. This is easy for us to forget.
MARY OF NAZARETH. In Nazareth we could call Mary the perfect “Contemplative in action.” This means in concrete terms that Mary was a woman of the most profound prayer life—she was constantly in deep union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Still, in the family life of Nazareth Mary was very active. For this reason, Mary can be the model for so many people, but especially workers and most especially home-makers.
The fruit of Mary’s prayer life, her deep contemplative union with God, was poured out like a libation in service to the two persons that she loved most on earth—her husband and Son, Saint Joseph and Jesus. Likewise our prayer life should over-flow and spill over into our active life of service, especially to those who are closest to us—our family members! Remember: charity begins at home!
Holy Family as model for work
Now, in this short contemplation, let us try to imagine what might be a typical day in the life of Mary of Nazareth. Imagine it and how do you think it was like? Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises encourages us to contemplate the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the family life of Nazareth. Let’s try it!
MARY’S FIRST FRUITS. I cannot imagine Mary “sleeping in” ever, can you? Very early in the morning I imagine Mary, upon waking, immediately giving her first-fruits to God by praising Him and thanking Him for another day of existence. So should we start our days!
FAMILY WORK. Possibly afterward, try to imagine Mary preparing a frugal breakfast for these hard-laborers that we call “Carpenters.” Mary was always thinking of how to please God in serving others—what an example for all of us!
WATER. We take so many things for granted and one of these is the availability of running water or if you like bottled spring water. Not so in the time of Mary! Running, faucet water did not exist. Rather, the acquisition of water was a real chore, hard work, to say the least. WELLS! Women had to travel on foot to wells with a jug that they would carry and often on their heads. No air-conditioned cars and easy service! Upon arriving at the well, most likely there were other women there for the same purpose—to draw water for the needs of their families. This meant that Mary most likely had to wait in line and she did it with the greatest patience. Are you patient when you have to wait? Then after drawing the water from the well, Mary had to carry it home, most likely with the jug on her head!
At the Carpenter shop
CLEAN HOUSE. Her home would obviously be exposed to the entrance of dirt, dust, and debris. Therefore, on a daily basis Mary would carry out the mundane duty of sweeping her home. This was done with joy and no complaints; it was done methodically and orderly and it was done with love because she wanted a clean home to which Joseph and Jesus could return after a hard-days’ work.
WASHING AND DRYING. Back then electricity did not exist and therefore, washing machines and dryers, which facilitate our modern society immensely, these modern luxuries did not even exist and would not exist for centuries into the future. It is easy for us to take for granted what we have and what they did not have.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph in nature
COOKING. Eat and run, fast food services, and gourmet restaurants are all modern realities. Mary had to cook to feed her hungry husband and Son after their hard day work in the carpenter shop of Nazareth. Carpentry was a hard and demanding profession and of course demanded energies and calories. With the utmost attention and love, Mary prepared the evening meals for Joseph and Jesus. Everything Mary did was done with love, care, attention and perfection. Of course Mary always had the most noble of intentions—love for God in the humble service of her neighbor, even more important, her husband and Son. How easy it is for the modern mother, wife, and home-maker to become bored, jaded, and even angry at times over the simple fact that she has to prepare the dinner meal for her family! If only these home-makers could contemplate the example of Mary and the great love that she had in her daily chores—cooking included—then their lives would be much more enthusiastic, energized and life-giving! May our Lady help us!
Joseph teaching Jesus to read
WASHING AND CLEANING. I cannot imagine Mary insisting on Saint Joseph and Jesus “doing their part” in having them wash the dishes and utensils after the meal was concluded. On the contrary, Mary cooked the meal, prepared the table, had a warm and loving meal with her husband and Son, but was then the first to lift the table and clean the dishes—all done with gratitude for God’s gifts, with love and with overflowing joy and simplicity. How much we indeed can learn from the family at Nazareth and the shining example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the “Contemplative in action.” Indeed Mary had a deep contemplative prayer life and union with God. Still, Mary put into practice the fruits of her prayer life in loving service to her beloved husband and Son, Jesus the Son of Mary and of the carpenter.
CLOSING SUGGESTION. Why not start today to upgrade your own domestic life and chores? Why not do a meditation on a typical day of Mary, the house-wife, home-maker, wife and mother at Nazareth. Then, starting now, offer your work to Jesus, Mary and Joseph as a gift of love. Finally, as you go about your daily chores, why not ask Our Lady of Nazareth to be with you, to accompany you in your daily chores, in every little action. Holiness does not depend so much on the greatness of the action, but in the love that accompanies every little action. Holiness, in imitation of Mary of Nazareth, depends on doing the ordinary things of daily life with extraordinary love. Our Lady of Nazareth pray for us and inspire us to be truly “Contemplatives in action.”
WORK TO SANCTIFY AND SAVE YOUR SOUL!
Posted: 01 Sep 2014 07:32 PM PDT
Example of the Holy Family
Work is good for us! Why? Jesus taught us the importance of work by spending most of His time on earth in Nazareth with Mary His Mother and Saint Joseph, His foster-father. Among the many activities that Jesus carried out was that of WORK. True! Saint Joseph taught Jesus the hard and demanding work of a carpenter. No electric helps back then! Nailing, and sawing and sanding and adjusting wood to construct tables, doors, chairs, etc. This indeed was hard-work.
In my private meditations I have often imagined Jesus and Saint Joseph arriving home after a hard-day’s work. Imagine them. Exhausted, drenched with sweat, their hair filled with saw-dust, their hands grimy and calloused. This was not on occasions, but day after day!
This being the case, in a world where the importance of the work-ethic has largely gone by the wayside, where many choose the easy-path of not working or cutting corners, where laziness and indolence is all the more prevalent, we would like to present positive reasons why we should truly value work in its many dimensions, shapes and forms and embrace the work ethic all the days of our short lives on earth. St. Paul says, “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” Saint Albert Hurtado stated: “There are two places to rest while on earth: the cemetery and heaven.” Let us work hard in this short stay on earth and then we can rest forever in heaven with Jesus, Mary and good Saint Joseph!
Following are some reasons to motivate us to embrace a more serious work ethic so as to perfect our lives on a human level, but even more on a spiritual level. Here are five specific points to motivate us.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph at work
1. IMITATION OF JESUS, MARY, AND ST. JOSEPH. At Nazareth, where Jesus spent most of His life on earth, He lived the family life, which consisted of loving and obeying His parents, prayer to His heavenly Father, but also Jesus worked and He worked hard—that of a carpenter. Therefore, one very clear reason for work is to imitate Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph; they are our models in everything and that includes dedication to work. The three of them worked hard, orderly and methodically and for the honor and glory of God! Such should be our work ethic!
Mother Teresa and a work of love
2. CHARITY TOWARDS OTHERS. Another reason and positive effect of work well-done is that it can be turned into a service of love towards others. An industrious mother and wife that spends long hours in the kitchen both cooking, preparing and cleaning can indeed be very hard work, but it can also be an act of service towards others as well as an act of charity. Saint Paul reminds us to purify our motives: “Whether you eat or drink do all for the honor and glory of God.”
You thought your day was tough?
3. AVOID MANY TEMPTATIONS TO SIN. Saint John Bosco, the well-known patron of the young, experienced a mortal fear every year at the same time. Vacation time for the young! Why? For the simple reason that many of his young would leave the Oratory, where the young worked hard all year at study, sports and other activities, and now they would return to a home where they had too much free time. The proverb rings so true: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” If the young person does not have anything to do then the devil will give him a lot to do in great abundance. Hard work and diligence in work is a key means to conquer the devil and his allies!
St. John Bosco teaches them to work
4. ETERNITY AND ETERNAL RECOMPENSE. The Word of God teaches us constantly that we will get our reward or punishment on the quality of our lives and how we utilize out time, treasures and talents. Look at the lives and the example of the saints and how hard they prayed, but also how hard they worked. The motto of Saint Benedict was “Ora et Labora”—translated—Pray and work! The great Doctor of the Church and patron of moral theologians and great lover of Mary, St. Alphonsus, made a private vow which consisted of simply this: NOT WASTING A MOMENT OF HIS TIME! Honestly, all of the saints strive to live the spirit of this private vow of Saint Alphonsus. Life is short and time indeed is of the essence. A modern Chilean and Jesuit Saint, who died in his early fifties of pancreatic cancer, Saint Alberto Hurtado expressed it succinctly: “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.”
Learn from the hard-working ant!
5. GOOD EXAMPLE TO OTHERS. We all know how true it is that we often follow the example of others, be it for good or be it for evil. The Hispanics have a proverb: “El ejemplo arrastra”—translated: “Example drags or pulls!” I remember as a child SATURDAYS! I actually hated Saturday mornings for the simple reason that my father made me, my older brother and then eventually the younger ones work and work hard. I indeed hated Saturdays. However, I do have to admit that the boys worked hard but saw the harder work and example of Dad! In all honesty, he worked harder and better than his sons. In other words, he preached the ethic of work, not so much by many words, but by the power of example, his own hard work-ethic!
Call on the angels! Especially this day. Call them with kindness! Send them before you in every situation and watch your circumstances improve and problems resolve in ways you could not have imagined.