Lent is just days away, and you may be bracing yourself for the Ash Wednesday tradition of everyone in the office saying, “You’ve got something on your face.” But Ash Wednesday doesn’t have to be the last time you observe Lent in the workplace.
Brother Greg Cellini spent 29 years in a corporate career before becoming a Franciscan, and he stopped by Morning Air® recently to discuss how you can observe Lent even during your workday.
For full-time workers, the workplace is where most of your waking hours are spent. Because of this, Brother Greg explained that if you want to have a fruitful Lent, you can’t check your faith at the office door.
“What happens in our personal life impacts the work life, and what happens in the work life impacts the personal life,” he said. “So if we’re truly going to have a fully nourishing Lent, one that we’re going to spend our entire selves, we’ve got to take a look at the personal and professional aspects of our lives.”
Drawing on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Brother Gregory offered some suggestions of how you can observe Lent, even in your workplace.
There are various ways that we can bring prayer into the workplace this Lent. Many organizations today have an inter-faith space or meditation room that is for use by all employees of all faiths. So as Catholics and Christians, we can go down and utilize that space during the day. Or maybe take a bit of the lunch hour or a break in the morning or afternoon to go pray a little more than we would do during other times of the year.
Another way to do this is to try to make Mass during the work day, so people during their lunch hour could take full advantage to get that true nourishment, that Eucharist. And I would encourage our listeners, if currently there is not a noon Mass or early afternoon Mass, maybe talk to their pastor and say during Lent, maybe not every day but maybe a couple of days a week, have a special Mass that they can go to. So there’s tremendous opportunity for additional prayer, be it in meditation, be it in quiet, or even Mass during the day.
What better time than Lent to start working on fasting from grudges and feasting on love? Fasting on judgement and condemnation and feasting on acceptance. And, of course, these are the kinds of things – grudges, judgement, condemnation that are so prevalent in today’s workplace. During these 40 days let’s start to fast from these and feast on the good. What a great way to bring this whole concept of fasting right to the workplace.
Many organizations have departments that set up volunteer efforts with local organizations, with food pantries, and this and that. Lent is a perfect time to, as a small group, go into a volunteer effort. And many companies today, for a lot of reasons, are really supporting this. When you go out with a group and volunteer, let’s say at a food pantry or a soup kitchen, it brings the team together and you’re working to help others. And, invariably, that enhanced sense of teamwork is brought back to the workplace. You have a more cohesive work unit as a result, so employers see this as a win for them. They see it as a win for the employees, and they see it as a win for the non-profit that they’re supporting. So almsgiving can be brought into the workplace, and everybody wins as a result.
Listen to the full reflection with Brother Greg Cellini below: