Listers, Ora et Labora (“Pray and Work” to the layman), the motto of the Benedictine order shouldn’t just be used for those called to the consecrated life, but it needs to be ascribed for all Catholics in every walk of life, especially those in the workforce. I recently entered into the realm of the working mother, and I can honestly say that I have never been so busy in all my life. Being a working mother I have discovered that balancing the various duties I have between work and home can drive a woman to the point of screaming at the top of her lungs “SERENITY NOW!!!!” (If you are a Seinfeld fan you know what I am talking about).
I realize that this is not a original revelation, but I certainly never had to experience it firsthand until now. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and I really love being a wife and mother, but in between the sales reports, the housecleaning, the emails, the volunteering at my boys’ school, the texts, the cooking, the phone calls, etc. I found it hard to be present in the moment without wondering what I have to do next. I found that my prayer life suffered heinously because even if I made time to pray I worried about all the other tasks I had to do while I prayed. This is not the best mindset to have when trying to have quiet time with God. Clearly my priorities were out of order, because I was treating prayer time as something I squeezed into my schedule rather than making prayer the centerpiece of my existence. Quite simply, I was not living a liturgical life, and I suffered for it. I started looking into prayers that I could incorporate throughout the day to keep me focused on God. Here is what I found (This prayer list is constantly growing, so if you have any recommendations, LISTERS, please list them):
1. To Start Your Day: “Good Morning, Heavenly Father”
Offering your day up to the Lord is an exceptional way to start your day. I try to say this along with the Angelus when I wake up, so that I start my day with a humble heart
Thank You dear Lord,
for protecting and preserving me during the night
and for giving me this new day.
Good morning Heavenly Father,
and thank you for the glory of the sun.
And thank you for the health I have to get my duty done.
I shall devout the hours of this golden day to You,
by honoring Your Holy Name in everything I do.
I shall pursue my daily art without complaint or fear
and spend my every effort to be friendly and sincere.
I know there have been many days that I have wiled away.
But this is one that I will try to make Your special day.
And so once more,
Good Morning Heavenly Father.
And please depend on me
because I want to honour you for all eternity.
2. For the Commute: The Rosary
I know that it doesn’t sound like the typical venue for praying the Rosary, but praying the Rosary while driving is a very good thing (just don’t shut your eyes). Instead of filling my head with a bunch lyrics about “calling somebody maybe?” or other such drivel, the Rosary is immensely helpful to start my workday with the Gospel. Also, it helps me from screaming at the so-and-so in the black sedan who just cut me off! If you don’t know how to pray the Rosary, here is a helpful pdf brought to you be by newadvent.org:
3. For When You Sit Down at Your Desk: A Prayer for Success
I just heard about this prayer while I was at sales conference of all places. It struck me as precisely what I need to say when I sit down at my computer to begin my work. It is extremely beautiful. My favorite part is “Show me how to give my best, and let me not despise the toil that is necessary to complete it.” Here are the words:
Almighty God, whose hands hold all matters of life,
give me grace of success in the work that I do.
Help me to give it the careful thought
and the strict attention that will lead to success.
Watch over me and govern my actions,
that I may not mar its perfection.
Show me how to give my best,
and let me not despise the toil that is necessary to complete it.
Make my life a successful one,
in that every duty you give to me,
I do it well.
Give me the blessing of your help and guidance,
and suffer me not to fail.
In Jesus’ name.
4. Throughout the day: The Angelus
Odds are most of you, listers, know this prayer by heart, but if you are new to the Catholic world, this is a prayer that will change your life. The Angelus is a prayer that focuses on the Incarnation. It is said three times a day: 6 am, Noon, and 6 pm, so that you can begin, continue, and end your day with Incarnation as the focus of your day. You may find it Latin in SPL’s 8 Prayers Everything Catholic Should Know in Latin and in English here.
5. In Times of Chaos: The Serenity Prayer
I know this prayer is written by Protestant Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take it for our own nor does it mean that words are less true. I use this now and then when everything seems to be going wrong, and when all I want to do is punch a hole through the screen of my laptop. Here are the words:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
6. To Help to Admit when You Have Made a Mistake: The Humility Prayer
Robert Burns says in his poem “To a Mouse” “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Nothing can be more true yet more irksome to someone who is a perfectionist. I have quite the talent of being organized and take pride that my work is precise and consistent. However, with my tight schedule I do make mistakes. So, when my usually consistent work doesn’t pass muster or if I let something slip through the cracks, I find it hard to admit that I had made a mistake. The old pointer finger is just itching to blame someone else for my own flawed humanity. The Humility Prayer has become my go-to prayer to inoculate me from the folly of pride. Here are the words:
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
7. A Prayer for the End of the Day
I desire to rest in Thy Heart this night.
I make the intention of offering to Thee
every beat of my heart,
joining to them as many acts of love and desire.
I pray that even while I am asleep,
I will bring back to Thee souls that offend Thee.
I ask forgiveness for the whole world,
especially for those who know Thee and yet sin.
I offer to Thee my every breath and heartbeat
as a prayer of reparation.
8. A Prayer to St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Workers
I am now including a prayer to the Patron Saint of Workers, Saint Joseph. Afterall, no list about work would be complete without him. I think that it is often hard for us “look at our work with the eyes of faith.” I believe if we looked at our work in this way, whatever it may be, then perhaps we might do a better job.
Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.
Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.
When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.
St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for us!