Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Work, "Giving Back," and a Saint

This caught my eye on Monday: "What do you feel is an appropriate balance between being successful financially and the need to serve others by giving back?"1

My guess is that sirmore101 made the assumption, which I think is common in America, that "work" is what you do for money: and "giving back" is what you do by donating money or doing volunteer work.

Giving money and time to worthy causes is a good idea. The Catholic Church approves of Almsgiving and other works of mercy. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447) But I think that "giving back" isn't limited to what we do when we're not earning money.

Here's what I wrote in that discussion thread:
'What do I feel is an appropriate balance between being successful financially and the need to serve others by giving back?'

Ideally, becoming insanely rich by providing good-enough products and/or services at a price that's low enough for just about anybody.

I don't have the skills it takes to do that, so I waited until the family had enough wealth, by our modest standards, to get by - and now have started 'giving back' by writing and other creative outlets.

Actually, though, I've been 'giving back' all along: helping customers discover what product they wanted or needed and showing it to them - chopping the greens off beets so that a laboratory could analyze them, and ultimately so that hundreds of thousands of people could purchase sugar - operating broadcast equipment and chatting a little so that people would have something to listen to in the late hours - babysitting a computer so that folks who worked during the day would get their paychecks - and so it goes.

I've never been a 'mere' anything - and neither has anyone else, if we think about it.

Now, there are many who feel that they're doing something worthless; or not being appreciated; or otherwise dissatisfied. But that's another topic.
(My comment of "Elaborate please...?")
From a Catholic point of view, I don't think there's a divide between "work" and "giving back." Note, though, that I'm speaking with the full authority of some guy with a blog. I've written about that before.

American bishops have said, about the dignity of work:
"...Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. ..."
"The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers"
Justice, Peace and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Then there's Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower. She's the youngest Doctor of the Church - and got recognized as a Saint partly because she did "servile" work.

It wasn't what she did that was so special, it was why she did it:
"...She took her assignments in the convent of Lisieux as ways of manifesting her love for God and for others...."
("St. Therese and Her Little Way," Society of the Little Flower (
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Sort-of-related posts:More:BlogCatalog discussion thread:The Magisterium and me:


Brigid said...

Missing a one letter word: "I don't think there's divide"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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