Five ways to be Catholic at work

Maybe it’s because of September.

Maybe it’s because the great Patrick Lencioni will be on campus next week.

Maybe it’s because my desk is a pile of papers each facing a different direction … but I have been thinking a lot about work recently.

I looked up saintly advice on how to do it better.

Here is what I found.

1. Clean Your Desk (At Least Once a Week.)

I say this with great trepidation, because of the aforesaid condition of my desk, but I think you’re supposed to keep your desk clean.

I even once confessed my messy desk to a priest.

For my penance he told me to organize my desk.

I said, No, that was impossible, and he gave me a different penance.

Pope Benedict spoke about both confession and cleaning your desk when he said:

“It is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity.

“It is true our sins are always the same; but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week even if the dirt is always the same, in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again.

“Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up.”

This is a powerful quote for me because it suggests that I am neither cleaning my desk often enough nor going to confession enough.

But I am going to start, so that the clutter might not build up until it is not seen.

2. Ignore your email when you get home.

I have always admired people who do not respond to my frantic weekend work e-mails until Monday.

By leaving their work at work, they are following the advice of two recent popes.

Pope John Paul said it with his philosophical profundity: “Work is for man and not man for work.” —St. John Paul II.

… and Pope Francis said it with his slightly snarky directness. Modern work habits are “slave labor, work that enslaves.” Continue reading


Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department.

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