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"There are different works and services, but the same Spirit does them all"  (1 Cor 12:14).  You can see that every natural body has many different parts and senses, and how each particular part, whether it is eye, ear, mouth, hand or foot, has its own special functions, its own work to do. There can be no question of one part wanting to do the work of another part, or to be anything other than what God has made it. Now, we too are all one body. Each of us is a part of the body, and Christ is its Head. In this body, as in a natural body, the parts are very different from one another. One of us is an eye, another is a hand, someone else is a foot, a mouth or an ear. The eyes in the body of Christendom are those who have to teach; that is something you do not have to worry about. But we ordinary Christian people ought to take great care to find out what is the work to which our Lord has called and invited us, what is the grace which our Lord has prepared for us; because every skill or work, however small, is a grace, and it is the same spirit which produces them all for the use and benefit of mankind.

Let us take the humblest tasks first. One person knows how to spin, another knows how to make shoes; some people are good at these practical things, others are not. All these gifts are from God, produced in us by His Spirit.  Believe me, if I were… not a priest, I should be very proud of being able to make shoes.  I should try to make them better than anyone else, and I should be glad to earn my keep with my own hands.  Dear children, the foot or the hand must not want to be the eye.  Everyone must do their own special work, entrusted to them by God, however menial it is; not everyone would know how to do your work….  Everyone should do for his neighbour what his neighbour cannot do so well as he, and in this way, by his love for others, he thanks God for His graces….

Why is there so much grumbling, everyone complaining that his work is a hindrance…?  Our work will never give us a troubled conscience if God's spirit inspires the work in us. It should bring us peace, not trouble.  You must see that when this sort of thing disturbs your peace, it is not the work that causes the trouble, it is the disordered way in which you go about it.  If you did your work, as you easily could, and as you ought to, with an eye to God alone and no thought of yourself, you would not be anxious to please or afraid of displeasing anyone, you would not be asking if your work is useful or pleasant, because you would ask for nothing in it except the glory of God.  You would do all your work for God alone.  If you did this, there could not possibly be any emotional upsets or crises of conscience….

We must perform such good and useful works as we find, but we must leave the care of them to God. We must do our work very carefully, peacefully, wholeheartedly, drawing God into it. We must pay attention to every detail, with great zeal and devotion, and we must keep an eye on ourselves, too, asking ourselves what motive prompts us to the work. We must be very conscientious in trying to distinguish what the Spirit of God is prompting us to, whether we are being asked to be passive or active. We must follow the Spirit’s promptings and act accordingly….

I know a man who has loved God more dearly than most, and he has passed his whole life as a ploughman. He has followed the plough for forty years, and that is what he does to this day. This man once asked our Lord if He wanted him to stop working and go and sit in church; but the answer was: No, He did not want that. He wanted him to go on earning his bread with the sweat of his brow, to the honour of His most Precious Blood.



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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.