“Physicians and scientists, carpenters and realtors, you who work in the home caring for a household, children, or elder loved ones: you are already praying.”
Rev. Cathy George’s book You Are Already Praying: Stories of God at Work begins with this celebration of work as prayer. Each personal narrative included in her collection of stories from Christians who understand their work as prayer affirms that ordinary work can be sacred.
Cathy is a member of our Seminar on Vocation and Faith in the Professions. She recently sat down with our staff at the Collegeville Institute to speak about her lifelong passion to help people understand that prayer is not restricted to religious activities or constrained to church:
“Somehow Christians have the idea that we go to church to pray. But when we look at the life of Jesus, we see that he spent little time inside the synagogue, and lots of time at the seashore, in the marketplace, and out where people lived. Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and steadfast reliance upon God was in the workplace and in the world.”
Cathy has worked in several congregations on the question of how professional work can be understood as a calling, and this experience has impacted her understanding of her call as a minister:
“Once I began to realize how significant the ministry of the church could be in translating into people’s lives the teachings of Jesus, the sustenance of the sacraments, and the meaning of being baptized, it became important to me to seek to honor the parishioners’ vocational callings. After I really started believing in the priesthood of all believers, which means that any doctor, lawyer, plumber, mother, father, grandparent, postal worker, or hospital worker is as much called to walk with God in life as is a priest, I began to see the church differently. Instead of looking upon the church as the place we come to encounter God and experience the sacred, I wanted to honor the fact that what people do in their lives all week long is ministry.”
Cathy’s book speaks to the vision that inspired our Called to Work series for small groups: that congregations can help their members come to see the work that fills their day as vocation.
Her words capture the heart of theology of vocation—that a calling is an invitation from God to serve others: “Whatever our life’s work, opportunities exist for us to be instruments of grace in the lives of those we live and work with.”