Christ in the House of Mary and Martha by Jan Vermeer, 1655. [Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh]

The work we do in fidelity to the person we are radiates our calling in the Lord and our commitment to follow him. Our life is a harmonious blending of contemplation and action, of worship and work, of presence and participation.

Never do we reach the false conclusion that functionality has to be separated from spirituality. Rather the disposition of awe for the sacred dimension of reality enables us to see more than meets the eye and to be increasingly effective. 

Such awareness is the hallmark of integrated living. It does not mean that we forfeit the need to make practical judgments; it does mean that we remember to choose as our first priority listening to God’s providential design for our life.

Despite the stresses evoked by the daily grind, we place others’ needs before our own. Bolstered by the grace of our companionship with Christ, we treat them with the respect they deserve.

For example, sitting behind a desk writing a check to finance a shelter for the homeless is a fine gesture but serving the poor in a soup kitchen can be life-changing. We replace barriers that could breed disrespect for human dignity by bonds of respect for one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord.  

St. Thérèse of Lisieux shows us in her writings and by her life that day by day we must lose all trust in ourselves and go to God with empty hands. She teaches us how to enter into the heart of Jesus and to let ourselves be loved. Only then can we show love to others and exude justice, peace, and mercy in our thoughts and actions.

Integrating worship and work gives us a keener sense of what Christ would do. When life speeds by too quickly, it is impossible to view anything or anyone from his perspective. Instead of lifting life into the light of his love, we behave as if we prefer the darkness of a rabbit burrow to the beauty of a sunlit day. 

The gift of integration lets us unwrap life as if it were a precious gift box full of delightful surprises. We no longer take the ordinary for granted. We enjoy its infinite richness, not only during an occasional retreat from the din of daily demands but moment by moment. 

Life becomes more like a rhythmic dance than a rubber band stretching us toward momentary contemplation and snapping us back to speed with no rest in between.

Only if we do our best to avoid compartmentalized living can we begin to treasure everything from the tiniest sign of divine goodness to the wonder of cosmic creation. We also strive with the help of grace to become persons who, in the words of the Eastern Church Father, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, “remember God more often than we breathe.”

Such a disposition allows us to behold the whole as Holy. All of the universe and its history, from the beginning to the end of time, become a radiant epiphany of God’s creation. 

As our vision widens through the power of contemplative prayer, we begin to see the world and everything in it with the eyes of a child. This fresh, joyful way of seeing is a sure sign