What is service, and what is work?
One of this issue’s writers, Jacob Zelinski, reflects on this question. He concludes that if we participate in an activity (in this case, a “job”) with gratitude, and if we do so for the greater glory of God, our activity is both work and service. In Jacob’s words, “Our work is our service, and our service is our work.” I invite you to read more of his thoughts on pages 16-17.
The founder of the Jesuits would no doubt be pleased with that assessment. As St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us in the Spiritual Exercises, Christ calls us to follow him, and the most effective work happens when we allow God to act through us.
Throughout this magazine, you will find stories of people who are answering Christ’s invitation to join Him in healing the world—people like:
• Dr. Bill Ahrens, a pediatrician and emergency medicine physician who co-founded and works at the Mayan Health Initiative in Guatemala (page 5).
• Fr. Michael Flecky, SJ, a professor of fine arts at Creighton University, whose art is “a form of service” (pages 8-9).
• Joyce Tibbitts, who coordinates ministries on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and reminds us that “Ignatius taught us that we need to see God in all things” (pages 18-19).
In addition to these and other articles, please make sure to check out our special section on the Cristo Rey Network (pages 12-15)—which started right here in our province! Certainly, all the employees and volunteers at these schools are involved in work that is service. Additionally, the business professionals who mentor students through Cristo Rey’s innovative Corporate Work Study Program provide service through their work with these young people.
Essentially, whatever we do in our daily lives, if we do it for the glory of God, it takes on a holy aspect. Going one step further, if we bring this work and service to our prayer in our daily Examen and talk to God about our day, we undertake a prayerful act of thanksgiving. And we can ask God for help in our work and service the next day. Such prayer helps us to become “contemplatives in action,” as St. Ignatius calls us to be.
As Fr. David Fleming, SJ, wrote, “Ignatius emphasizes one Spanish word throughout the Exercises: ayudar, meaning ‘to help’ . . . the simplest way for him to describe any ministry that we do. ‘To help’ is a humble way of serving . . .God calls us to service and he gives us colleagues and friends to work with. The work is his. We are merely helping him with it.”
|With gratitude for all the ways you share in our work and service for Christ,
Brian G. Paulson, SJ
Provincial, USA Midwest Province
|The Jesuit Provincials from the USA and Canada visited the Holy Land this past summer with guide and docent Fr. Brendan G. Lally, SJ (front row, left).|