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Lent and the Catholic Business Professional (Interview)
| February 11th, 2010
| Mary Kochan
Posted on 02/18/2010 9:00:19 PM PST by Salvation
February 11th, 2010 by Mary Kochan
If youre like me, you went from "I cant believe Christmas is already here" to "I cant believe it is almost Lent" in the blink of an eye. Where does the time go? Randy Hain, Associate Editor of The Integrated Life channel on Catholic Exchange, has given a lot of thought to time: how the fleeting moments of this life must be redeemed, captured and made to serve Christ. For no people is this a greater challenge than for Catholic business professionals and as a an executive recruiter, Randy knows well the challenges of the demanding business environment, the stresses that it puts on family life and on ones spirituality and morality.
Attuned to the particular needs of Catholics in the business world, Randy started a Catholic Business Association at his parish and a yearly conference: The Atlanta Catholic Business Conference. With both the conference and Lent coming on apace, it is a great time to talk to Randy about how Catholic business professionals can make this Lent spiritually productive.
Mary Kochan: Randy, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me even though I know you are very busy preparing for the Atlanta Catholic Business Conference. I am looking forward to the event, as are so many in the Southeast. The conference is the 20th of this month, which means we will be into Lent by the time it starts and so I thought we might focus a bit on what Lent means to a Catholic business person who might be out there in a very secular, competitive environment. The business world has its own set of challenges for someone who seeks to follow Christ from day to day. What do you think the main challenges are?
Randy Hain: That is a very relevant question and one which we hope to address in our Conference on the 20th. Most of us spend the majority of our adult lives at work. The workplace today is a challenging environment to be open about our Christian beliefs. Political sensitivity and rigid company policies have led many of us to compartmentalize our faith in an unhealthy and unnatural way. I often hear people say I just leave my faith at the door when I get to work. But, how can we possibly separate our spiritual selves from our physical being?
I think the best way to counter this cultural hostility is simple: pursue being a light for Christ in the workplace. This doesnt necessarily mean displaying a crucifix on your desk and leading lunch time Bible studies. It is more about your own faith journey and letting others see Christ at work in you and reflecting your joy to others. So, to answer your question about challenges more directly, I suggest that the biggest challenges to following Christ openly are surrender, priorities, and time. We must surrender ourselves to Christ and put His will before our own 100% of the time, rather than when it is convenient. It is important to understand our priorities and recognize the importance of putting the Lord first in all things, followed by family and work should be last. Finally, if our Faith is important, we must make time for it. Time for daily prayer, time for daily Mass, time for Eucharistic adoration and time given in service to others. Picture a future encounter with Christ in Heaven at our death. Will He say to us, Well done, good and faithful servant? That, I think, is the goal which should keep us focused on serving Him in all areas of our lives.
Kochan: I really appreciate your nuts and bolts approach to spirituality. There are very definite practices that you find helpful and recommend to others. What do you recommend to the business person, the professional person, who wants make the best use of Lent to draw closer to Jesus?
Hain: Lent is a time of prayer, sacrifice and commitment in preparation for Easter. I encourage each of your readers to start with a quick analysis of their day. Where do I have opportunities to serve Him? Do I pray during the day? I will suggest to you that simply scheduling prayer time is a good place to start. The Jesuit Daily Examen is an excellent tool which I have been using for over 3 years. I have 5 scheduled prayer stops on my calendar of 2-5 minutes each which force me to stop, reflect and pray during my hectic day. If it is on your calendar, it is more likely to happen. I also suggest praying the Rosary in the car on the way to work each morning with the radio off. This is a great way to work in 20 minutes of prayer into your day. Is there a parish near your office? Try attending a 6:45 am or noon daily Mass or stop by for Eucharistic adoration. Do what ever you can to experience and worship the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. One last thing: get up 30 minutes earlier and make time for spiritual reading and prayer before you leave your home in the morning.
All of these recommendations are practical and achievable and will transform your life if followed consistently.
Kochan: I know that because of your work, you frequently talk to people who are in career transition and help them think through important life decisions. From the spiritual perspective such times of introspection are really opportune for conversion. When it to comes to conversion, what do you see as common themes among people in business? What are particular aspects of life in the business world that call for an examination of conscience regarding certain things?
Hain: Great question. We are typically faced with countless encounters each day with people in person, by phone or via email. How are we acting in these encounters? Are we living out the Beatitudes? Are we projecting selfless love and helping others? Are we being ethical and moral in our judgment and decision making? The Jesuit Daily Examen I mentioned earlier is an excellent way to stop, reflect and change course during our hectic day.
Kochan: I love that Randy, because you are saying that so much of the Christian walk just comes down to that personal encounter with another human being. When I think about this, it reminds me of Mother Teresa, the kind of thing she would say: see Christ in others and be Christ to them. It is the same principle in a corporate boardroom as on the streets of Calcutta. But let me shift away from the person-to-person perspective for a minute and ask about the larger economic environment that is having such a big impact of people. You started the Atlanta Catholic Business conference during very turbulent economic times last year. How should our Catholic faith form our responses to circumstances such as this economic downturn?
Hain: It has been a trying 18 months to say the least. Many feel the country is going in the wrong direction and countless friends and family members are unemployed or under-employed. But, there are signs of hope and that hope can and should be connected to our faith. A strong prayer life and focusing on Reconciliation and the Eucharist is the key to survival in these tough times. All three of these have been my lifeline in the recession. Also, as tough as we have it, somebody else may have it worse. Continuing to help others and giving our time and talent as well as our treasure is important even when we are experiencing tough times.
Kochan: Why do Catholics in business need each other, Randy? Why do they need to network and support one another spiritually and professionally?
Hain: Well, one of the four marks of the Church is that we are One. We have a common bond as Catholics that should spill over into our business and professional lives. Through the shared lens of our Catholic Faith, we have much in common and many tools at our disposal to encourage and support one another. I also think that outside of the Parishes Catholics dont always have a strong sense of community and the business/faith link is one of the most meaningful ways to accomplish that goal. We spend the majority of our adult lives at work, so why not view that time as another way to serve Christ? Our Protestant brothers and sisters have done this well for years and across the country I see a growing movement of Catholic focused business groups who are promoting the idea of integrating faith and work.
Kochan: Randy, thank you so much for this conversation about faith in the business environment. There is something here for everyone regardless of our daily situation. Lets get the conference information from you for our readers.
Hain: Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 20th. Click here for the online conference registration and complete information. I hope to see a lot of CE readers at this great event. Thanks, Mary, for helping me get the word out and Ill see you there.
TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: business; catholic; catholiclist; ethics; faith
Business as a Catholic with support from the Catholic Business Conference.
posted on 02/18/2010 9:00:19 PM PST
To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
A different take on business.
posted on 02/18/2010 9:02:42 PM PST
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
To: Salvation; informavoracious; larose; RJR_fan; Prospero; Conservative Vermont Vet; ...
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posted on 02/18/2010 9:11:32 PM PST
("lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi")
1. In my experience, if you behave in a Christian manner at work, it makes a difference and people notice. You don’t have to be annoying about it. Just make it known who you are. I have a friend who used to represent injured workers trying to get disability. She told them up front that she was a Christian and would be praying for them. Not one ever objected. Soon, other attorneys started pulling her aside before hearings and asking if she would pray for some situation they were in or ask her thoughts on a moral issue. I had the same thing happen to me in my office life, which was some years ago. People knew I was a practicing Catholic, and occasionally, they would slip into my office, close the door and tell me they had something they needed to run by me, since they knew I was Christian. I worked in government, so it was officially a secular workplace, but many people of faith were there, and it helped to have that in common. I have good memories of going to mass together during lunchtime on Holy Days of Obligation, dragging with us some of the most lapsed and “cafeteria” Catholics.
2. I must mention that my brother, a former small business owner, gave up on doing business with people who used the Christian fish symbol in their business cards or brochures. He said, instead of it being a sign of above average integrity, it was a sign that, when it was time for them to pay the bill, they were going to say, “please cut me some slack, dude, after all, we’re all Christians here.” There’s probably a Scripture quote about people like that, but I don’t know what it would be.
3. Our parish has a business networking group. They host Sunday donuts occasionally. I doubt they do anything as far as developing a spirituality of work. I once met a Legionaries of Christ priest who said he wanted to talk to me about the Catholic faith in the workplace. I never got around to having that conversation. I think I was concerned that he was going to talk about Opus Dei, a direction which I am not attracted to. I wonder if there are some great books for reflection or growth of our faith in the work context.
posted on 02/18/2010 10:14:53 PM PST
...my brother, a former small business owner, gave up on doing business with people who used the Christian fish symbol in their business cards or brochures.
Unfortunately, I have had similar experiences. I bought a house from a couple who led "Christian retreats". In fact, my house was the former retreat house. This couple carefully and deliberately removed every light bulb and scrap of toilet paper from the house before we arrived from 2000 miles away. The nearest store was 10 miles into town, and our movers had to wait to unload while we raced into town to get light bulbs and TP. They lived next door and sold their own house, and they did the same thing to the family who bought their house a few months later.
Sometimes when I see the fish symbol on a business card or a business ad, I almost feel like it’s used as BAIT!
posted on 02/19/2010 5:35:05 AM PST
(Blizzard of 1978 Survivor / ILLIGITIMA NON CARBORUNDUM!!)
I think the needs and limitations differ between people who work for a company and have a manager, and people in business for themselves, as well as between people with a lot of human contact, customers or internal customers on one hand, and people who only deal with themselves and a set of co-workers.
He went over the ideas that are common, but left behind many areas that the Catholics face and need decisions made, because they, in my opinion, will depend on the business ownership and role.
I can see how in some situations a prominently placed crucifix might be against the business rules; and if it is, I understand that it is not always the wisest course to fight the rule. I do not see how a Catholic calendar — we have great ones, filled with beautiful art, pick one this Easter, — can be against any rule if you have a wall or cubicle partition.
Also, be a crucifix: at meals, cross yourselves. There is no rule against that. You don’t have to say grace out loud to people not ready to hear it, but a sign of the Cross is aways available and always appreciated.
If you face the customers, do not assume that a display of Catholic, or any other, Christianity is a drag on business. This is the most common mistake secularists make: that Christian symbol repel non-Christians or Catholic symbols repel non-Catholics. Again, if you need a job you may have to live with the stupidest of rules, but if you don’t have a rule, or set your own rules, do not tone down your Catholic character. Do not use it as a sales vehicle, of course, but just be what you are. Your business will not suffer. Why? Because customers appreciate understanding the person they are doing business with, even if they themselves are from another confession. So long as what you have, a cross, or a fish, or an icon is a sign and not a sales display, people will be drawn to it, and like you better. I like it when people of other religions and cultures are open about it. I think, most people are like me in that respect.
I recall a story (told by Fr. Mitch) about a Muslim student arriving to a “Catholic” American university and seing a white sulhouette of a crucifix against the tanner wall. — Was there a crucifix here before? Why was it removed?” — “It was removed not to offend Muslim students like yourself” — the Muslim student was told. —”This” — he pointed to the empty wall — “offends me”, he replied. — “I knew this is a Catholic University; I chose to come here. I could have dealt with the crucifix”.
The business rules against overt religiosity originate in the desire to (1) have people concentrate on work; (2) avoid religious wars in the office; (3) be culture-neutral when facing a customer. The last one, I believe, very rarely serves a rational business need at all. The first two should not be a concern simply because, as a Catholic you should honor the committment to your employer, who owns your time when you are on the job. But if you are in a position to set these rules, think if they make any sense. For example, do you want people to check they entire personality at the entrance? Or is it that you are against a particular brand of religios behavior? Before you ban a crucifix, would you also ban a Shiva statue? Many businesses today encourage diversity, even have their employees go to seminars to learn how good diversity at workplace is. Is your workplace diverse enough to be welcoming to a Catholic?
posted on 02/19/2010 6:01:13 AM PST
A handful of thoughts - granted, I live in "the Rome of the West" where, unless you inform someone otherwise, it is assumed you have no problem with the Church, this is all about LIVING the gospels. There's a few very simple things you can do daily that is Christian living without a crutch.
First off, eliminate curse words from your vocabulary even when the boss hacks you off so badly that you want to facebook to the world what a !@#$% he is. Don't be obvious about it just do it. Saying a Hail Mary at this point of the day is helpful.
Dress with respect in the workplace - and for women, that means a skirt past your knees and tops that aren't revealing. There are ways to do it and look stylish and not be a slob, either. Alright, I work in a place where there's always the chance that the mayor, governor or county executive might be in the lobby when you get off the elevator, but still. Be put together.
DO NOT be afraid of wearing a Crucifix, Miraculous Medal or any other sacramental. Don't draw attention to it, but don't be afraid. No one with any ounce of integrity would say a word.
Before lunch, I agree, say grace silently and use the Sign of the Cross. Maybe add an extra prayer. Sometimes you find you can do some great evangelizing.
Always have integrity in your business dealings. Do what you say you are going to, follow through and be prompt about paying bills. It's not just respectful, but good business practice. Also, the time for price negotiation and the like is before the order is placed. Anything else, including using Christianity as an excuse, is just rude.
For those of us who have trouble concentrating on prayer while driving and the extra half hour in the morning would be better spent sleeping in order to keep a clear head, the shower is a great place to pray.
One quick thing - there is a relatively new grocery store downtown here which is part of a larger, local chain. The store manager put up a big Crucifix on the wall. There was a bit of publicity on "controversy" and the bottom line was nobody shopping there cared. The business is honest, customer service good and that's what mattered. But, then, that's part of living the gospel.
I'm looking forward to others' comments on this topic. It's a very good one.
posted on 02/19/2010 6:35:44 AM PST
Your reply is wonderful. I’m definately showing it to my teen kids.
posted on 02/19/2010 9:09:47 AM PST
("Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal."---Leo Tolstoy)
This is really a great topic. I don’t really have anything to add but I’m glad you posted it and I’m enjoying reading the various ‘tips’.
posted on 02/19/2010 9:11:37 AM PST
("Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal."---Leo Tolstoy)
OK, where’s the Rome of the West? I wanna move there.... unless I’m already there, that is.
To: Technical Editor
St. Louis. :) Being Catholic here is somewhat a way of life.
Great post. It’s all about actively living the faith, offering each and every “prayer, work, joy and suffering” in the sacrament of the moment.
posted on 02/21/2010 8:43:22 AM PST
**Also, be a crucifix: at meals, cross yourselves. There is no rule against that. You dont have to say grace out loud to people not ready to hear it, but a sign of the Cross is aways available and always appreciated.**
Our family would always do this. People would come up to our table and compliment us on our faith and the way we were raising our five children.
posted on 02/21/2010 5:59:19 PM PST
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
When I visited your area, I think we prayed before we ate in the restaurant too.
posted on 02/21/2010 6:00:27 PM PST
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
To: Lorica; annalex; afraidfortherepublic; Technical Editor; constitutiongirl; homegroan; narses
How about this?
If God allows some people to pile up riches instead of making themselves poor as Jesus did, it is so thay may use what He has entrusted to them as loyal servants, in accordance with the Master’s will, to do spiritual and temporal good to others.
— St. Charles de Foucauld
posted on 02/21/2010 9:58:18 PM PST
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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