Because Being a Catholic is Full-Time Work

Because Being a Catholic is Full-Time Work December 29, 2009

Posted by Webster
The Octave of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Our Lord over eight days, not just one, reminds me of another reason why I am Catholic: It’s not a part-time job. I thought of this coming into Mass this morning and seeing altar decorations still honoring the birth of the Baby Jesus.

As a teenager, I left my Episcopal church on Sundays thinking I was all set for the week. Most days now, it’s a different story. Every hour of the day—from the Liturgy of the Hours to daily Mass to Eucharistic Adoration to various forms of service—Catholics are invited to worship and work in the service of God and man.

Take one crazy example. There I was at 4:30 this morning, singing “What Child Is This?” in full voice to kick off the Office of Readings for the fifth day in the Octave. It wasn’t quite William Carlos Williams’s “Danse Russe” (I was fully clothed), but fortunately my home office is in the basement and my Kathleen (Katie) was asleep on the second floor, so my singing didn’t wake her.

Now it’s 7:50 and I am just back from Mass. I arrived at Mass early and said the Rosary before the beautiful Nativity set up in the right transept (photo below). Then I had the honor of serving at the altar. (If it’s Tuesday, it must be Webster.)

I will interrupt my work this office morning with more psalms and prayers from the Breviary. Midafternoon will find me in the Adoration chapel, and then I’ll stop in to see my dear friend and one-time RCIA sponsor Joan of Beverly for an hour of Catholic talk—as per usual late Tuesday afternoons.

If I don’t get lazy (as I do more often than not), I’ll say Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours when I get home about 5:30. A quiet dinner with Katie and Marian (home on Christmas break), and then I’ll spend a couple of hours reading Catholic stuff like Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah and probably blogging too (my one really bad habit). Then, like Simeon in today’s Gospel, I will end the day with the words:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people—a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.

In his memoir, my devout Protestant father wrote, “I’ve always had the impression that Catholics are in general more serious about their religion than Protestants.” That may not be true of all Catholics, but the Catholic Church does offer us the opportunity, every day, to make it true.

Another “father” of my acquaintance once wrote, “If you’re going to go on a spree, go the whole hog, including the postage.” Which inspires me to say, “Oink, oink.”

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • Anonymous

    You know, you are so right! I have the same ideas, only cannot find the time due to family duties to do all that you manage in one day.But I'm working at it.Thanks for your inspirations.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks for your comment. I am fortunate (or not) that I am at the stage in life when my children have moved out and work pressures are a bit less, so I do have time for more. Not trying to boast, just "putting my life out there"! Blessings in the New Year!

  • Warren Jewell

    You know, Webster, you lucky duck, you have a fluid if active schedule to permit such work for the Kingdom. Myself, now in declining health in retirement, my nap schedule interferes.One thing, of course, across most of our lives is needing to do mundane, secular work to feed the family. God's work, in vocation and out, tends to pay only in a BIG lump sum after everything else we can and/or must do is done.No regrets, but if any think that God is a demanding Taskmaster they need only consider earthly bosses to wish they could give more attention to God's work.And, your 'boast' is our information and inspiration. Your blogging is no waste of your time.God bless you in your work of every kind. Now, go to Katie and for every blog you or Frank wrote this week, and every one of us who commented, give her a big hug and an effusive "Thank you". You know you owe it to her. And, hey, God is very likely to be there to make it a 'group hug'.

  • I so agree. Being a Catholic should be hard work. I think you, from your position as a convert, can appreciate this. I'm blogging from Ireland, where our church is dying of laziness . My generation all worked very hard at learning our faith in school, but then went out into a world where the personal time demands of our religion seemed to just shrink away. Everything was left to the teachers in the schools or the hard core of 'saddos' in organisations like the Legion of Mary. Looking back, I think the parish clergy preferred it like that.

  • Webster Bull

    Warren, I LOVE NAPPING! It's my other vice (beside blogging). I also love Katie, so I am going to put your group-hug plan into action. In fact, I just did!

  • Webster Bull

    Dear Laughing Peasant, Thanks for your comment. I realize that I am doubly blessed, being a convert. I have so many friends and family members who were born to the faith but my not die in it, sadly. Of course, they don't know what they're missing, but then again, I don't know what I missed, not being a Catholic for 56 of my 58 years. And I am going to begin following your blog. Katie and I and our daughters have had some very happy times in Ireland, so I'm happy to know Frank and I have readers there. God bless and Happy New Year!

  • James

    There are plenty of Catholic adults with the time and flexibility of schedule to devote to worship as you do Webster but the difference is motivation. Yours is the zeal of a convert and an energetic love of God. I dare say that most practicing Catholics also feel that they're 'set for the week' following Sunday mass or even by meeting the minimum obligatory Christmas/Easter obligation. I believe that one of the great obstacles facing cradle catholics (myself included) is complacency in observance. It is certainly a frame of mind that's easy to slip into and requires vigilance to prevent it becoming habit. One thing that's helped me in that battle is making an annual weekend retreat at the Campion Center in Weston ( they deserve the plug). It provides me a wellspring from which to draw spiritually when times are "dry" and observance seems a chore. You and Frank and others I read here set a good example for the rest of us especially by way of reminder as of just how much we often take for granted as lifelong Catholics. Thanks for that and keep fighting the good fight.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, James. Good comment as usual. To repeat myself in part, I may sound boastful about all these forms of observance, but I just love it. What else can I say?

  • "Wherefore I choke with grief, that when so many blessings are laid before us, we are slothful, and despise them; we use every exertion to have splendid houses here, but how to gain in heaven so much as a little resting-place, we care not, we think not." -St. John Chrysostom

  • I agree, I try to "tithe" at least 10 % of my day to prayer and the way I can do it most faithfully is to give the Lord the first 3 hours of my day. That means I get up at 3:30 AM and begin right away by saying, "Good morning, Jesus, I love You, how may I serve You today." I am fortunate enough to work at a Catholic hospital that has Jesus in the tabernacle so I make a Holy Hour with Jesus there in His Presence before I go to the floor. I feel like a "moth drawn to the Flame." It makes my day!!!

  • Webster Bull

    Yes, mnord222, I have read that Thomas More got up at 2 am and prayed in his own private chapel until beginning his workday at 7 am. In addition to his legal work and serving the King in various capacities, More home-schooled his children, including daughter Margaret, who was considered the best-educated woman in England in her day. So I guess we all can do "More"!