One characteristic of the modern world is the propensity to separate. We separate work from home, both of those from recreation, and the economy from the environment. More than anything, we separate faith from life. Faith, we are frequently told, can only be acceptable if kept in a private realm that touches nothing else.
At the next session of Nothing More Beautiful on Feb. 7, Archbishop Gerard Pettipas and Rob Taylor, a member of Pharmacists for Life, will discuss one type of separation – the separation of faith from work. The theme is Evangelizing the Workplace.
Significantly, the theme is not Evangelizing in the Workplace. Such a theme would imply that we should try to bring our co-workers to a fuller involvement in Church life. The Catholic notion of evangelization, however, is broader than that of making converts to the faith, as important as that is. Our goal is to permeate every aspect of the culture with Christian values – to make the culture fully human.
That enterprise is based on Vatican II's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which states that the nature of the human person is most fully revealed in the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ does not contradict or repress human values, but rather enlivens them and reveals their fullest meaning.
Modern enterprise tends to make profits and efficiency paramount, so paramount that they eviscerate human values such as justice, solidarity, fairness and loyalty. Too often, for example, workers who have long been loyal to their employer find that, in the final analysis, the employer has little loyalty to them.
The evangelical force of Christian faith, then, can be disruptive. It can challenge employees to be true to their vocation and employers to be true to the full spectrum of that which is intrinsically good. It can lead both groups to be people of conscience who, when they witness values such as that of human life being violated, will stand up for the immeasurable goodness of those values.
The 21st century Western world operates out of a non-Christian, even anti-Christian, ethos. A Christian with a well-formed conscience will sometimes find him or herself called to be a sign of contradiction, to speak out when moral truth is contravened. A person of conscience will never accept that their faith is private. He or she will not separate faith from any aspect of life.
We are called to live whole lives, lives in which our deepest beliefs are not partitioned off into a corner. Evangelizing the workplace means responding to God's call that we live lives that are fully and authentically human. It means taking the Incarnation seriously. The Son of God blessed and divinized our reality. We are responsible for doing likewise.