Help your kids develop a Christian attitude toward work by teaching them how to make their work—whether around the house or at school—into a prayer:
► Talk to kids about the Christian attitude toward work. See the Talking Points section below for a brief summary of the Christian tradition around work. With older children or teens, read or summarize the relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, or the writings of the saints.
► Begin chores with a short prayer. Attitude and intention are key elements of prayerful work. Help set the right mood by beginning your chore time with a very brief prayer. Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers contains several blessings of work. Or, read an excerpt from the first creation account in the Book of Genesis: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. . . . Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Genesis 1:31–2:2).
► Play music during chore time. As anyone who has ever watched Snow White knows, a little music makes any chore go faster.
► Prayerfully reflect on your work. Incorporate your family’s work into a Daily Examen, or make Genesis chapters 1 and 2 (the creation stories) the subject of a Lectio Divina meditation on human work as a participation in God’s work of creation.
► Take pictures of kids’ work to offer to God. Make the idea of offering our work to God more concrete for younger children by taking pictures of them doing their chores (or of the completed work). Print out the pictures and write, “Father, I offer you this work of my hands” on it. Then place it in God’s Mailbox or your Home Oratory, or in the collection basket during the Offertory at Mass.
Talking Points: A Christian Attitude Toward Work
While Greek and Roman culture typically regarded human labor as debasing—a necessary evil relegated to the lower social classes—the early Christians, drawing on their Jewish roots, saw work as another way for people to connect with God. Work that orders even a small corner of the world toward beauty and the common good is a sort of participation in God’s ongoing work of creation, the Church says: “Human work, directed to charity as its final goal, becomes an occasion for contemplation; it becomes devout prayer. . .” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #266).
This attitude toward work has been developed and nurtured over the centuries in monasteries, where work is an integral part of the daily routine. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection’s The Practice of the Presence of God and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s “Little Way” are just two of many examples of methods that elevate even menial work to God.