Mixing work with prayer

By Emily Antenucci
Catholic News Service

MAN PRAYS ROSARY AT OKLAHOMA CHURCH

A parishioner praying the rosary at Holy Rosary Church in Hartshorne, Okla. (CNS photo/Dave Crenshaw/Eastern Oklahoma Catholic)

VATICAN CITY — How important is prayer in our everyday lives?

A question that might be up in the air for many is a cake-walk for Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, who says that prayer undoubtedly should be added to our workday. More specifically, he said, employees and volunteers who are involved in Catholic organizations, parishes, schools, movements and associations should pray at work every morning, at noon and in the evening with the Liturgy of the Hours.

The reason?

The archbishop told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides that “without prayer, our work becomes sterile and bland, devoid of vitality and joy. Through prayer, our work becomes a vocation, our office a place of joy, of brotherly love, a place where we proclaim the joy of the Gospel to each other and to the world.”

During my first week working here in Rome, I and the other interns from Villanova University had interesting experiences seeing the power of prayer within the Vatican walls. After our first day at work, the four of us excitedly shared our stories with one another about what we loved, people we had met, and certain aspects that are unique to the different offices where we were each assigned.

CNS' new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

The CNS Rome bureau is located on Via della Conciliazione near the Vatican in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

One comment that truly stuck with me was during a conversation between Anna Bauer and Vincent Ventura, who are both interning at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Having never worked for a Catholic organization before, Vincent and Anna both explained that the council’s staff pray together every day at noon. They said there is even a bell in some offices to remind people to break from what they’re doing to congregate into the hallway for communal prayer.

What a coincidence that we had this conversation just days before I read about Archbishop Goh’s call this week for sanctifying work with prayer. For most people, a workplace moment of communal gathering is during a coffee break, but here it is also found in prayer.

Priest prays with staff and patients in infectious diseases ward of Lima hospital

Maryknoll Father Joe Fedora prays with staff and patients in the Santa Rosa infectious diseases ward in Lima’s Dos de Mayo Hospital in Feb. 2014. (CNS photo/Barbara Fraser)

Vincent told me he sees this cultural routine at the Vatican as an opportunity that he welcomes with open arms: “It’s refreshing to see people come together in the office as a community through spirituality. If prayer is important to someone’s life, they should incorporate it into all aspects of their life including their time at the office.”

Anna also finds that “it is very much a part of the everyday routine — a simple meeting that is worked seamlessly into the busy schedule of the office, but one that holds a deeper significance than a coffee break.”

What do you think?

Would you take on prayer at work as wholeheartedly as Vincent and Anna have? While it may seem obvious prayer would be a part of the daily routine of those who work at the Vatican, is it the same for other workplaces? If you work at a Catholic organization, is prayer an organized part of your workday? If it isn’t, do you think it should be?

Emily Antenucci is an intern in the CNS Rome bureau while she attends Villanova University’s Rome program.

A Pentecostal, a pope and an iPhone for Christian unity

VATICAN CITY — The search for Christian unity is an enterprise that has taken the time and energy of scholars and popes. Recently it got a helping hand from an iPhone and YouTube.

Those involved in ecumenism insist on the power of prayer to heal Christian divisions and on the importance of involving not only high-powered theologians, but Christians of every community and every walk of life. They need to meet each other, get to know each other, help each other and pray with and for each other.

Putting those sentiments into practice, Pope Francis agreed to record a message to a group of Pentecostals in the United States. His guest, a bishop from a Pentecostal Christian community, did the camera work with an iPhone.

Screen grab of Pope Francis interview shown to a group of Pentecostals in the United States. (CNS photo)

Screen grab of Pope Francis interview shown to a group of Pentecostals in the United States. (CNS photo)

The pope’s message can be seen here, it begins at about 31:35 after Bishop Tony Palmer delivers a speech to a Kenneth Copeland Ministries about the importance of Christian unity for preaching salvation in Christ to the world. The bishop, who also serves as international ecumenical officer for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, a group that is not affiliated with the Anglican Communion, takes a much simpler view of the path full Christian unity than the pope and the mainline Christian churches do.

The translation used for the English subtitles on the video are not precise, but the pope’s sincerity is clear.

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