Do our work habits interfere with important aspects of our vocations?

One of the genres of books I read – thank God they are still fiction – has to with TEOTWAWKI when the SHTF, etc. The scenarios vary. However, a consistent topos of the genre is that, at a certain point, the protagonist notices that families and neighbors are communicating, children are doing children things again, etc. You get the idea.

I also have a great amount of sympathy for parents who work hard to provide their families.

Here is a sample from a post, from Mat Archbold, that touches on both.

My 6 Year Old Broke My Heart Today
by Matthew Archbold

We were in the van. We always seem to be in the van.
My thirteen year old was asking if she could watch the television show “Revolution” [I haven’t seen even one episode yet.  If anyone posts spoilers, I will ban her by IP address forever.] because some kids in her class were talking about it. She said it was the one where all the lights went out.
The kids started talking about what would happen if all the power went out.
I told my teenager that would mean her Ipod wouldn’t work and she feigned horror and pretend to faint. I said no video games, no television and no computers would work. The boy said that would be terrible. He said he’d much rather have a zombie apocalypse than a power-out apocalypse.
And that’s when my six year old said it. “I would love it if none of the computers worked,” she said. “Because then Dad wouldn’t be able to do work and he could play with me.”
The kids all laughed. The thirteen year old knew that one hurt though. She didn’t laugh.
That’s the kind of comment that doesn’t just hit you. It hits you, hits you again, and then wakes you up to hit you again later just to hear you say “ouch.”


You can read the rest over there.

Work is good.  We can, however, become detached from other important aspects of our lives through the working habits we form.

Let us all include as a part of our examination of conscience a double-checking of our work habits.  Too much is too much, if it interferes with seeking that which is above through fulfilling also those primary points of our earthly vocations.  Too little is really too little, if we are not securing for ourselves the environment in which we can fulfill our vocations and if we are not being just.

We have to attend to a hierarchy of our values and loves.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, GO TO CONFESSION, Our Catholic Identity, TEOTWAWKI, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. friarpark says:

    Had a similar thing with one of my sons. In a back to school “about me” paper that was taped to the wall the whole year my son said he was (paraphrase) unhappy that his Dad spent so much time making rosaries rather than playing with him. That was up there during all the open houses etc pretty much the whole school year.

  2. lana says:

    I had one of those moments a few years back when one of my first.grade CCD students looked at me with tears and asked me ‘What is AOL?’ Apparently his mom spent way too much time on the screen. I knew I was gulty of that too, even though I had been assuring myself it was for good puposes.

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    One of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary at the St. Francis Chapel in Boston once said:

    Work is a good thing.

    Hard work is a good thing.

    Pounding a human being into the ground is an evil with which you must not cooperate, even if the person doing the pounding is you, pounding upon yourself.

  4. Frank H says:

    “Revolution” is definitely worth a look, Father!

  5. The six year-old nailed it. As the father of three – aged 11, 8, & 7 – I know how difficult it is for them.
    While I rarely have to work at home and then always after they are in bed, but I work a regular 8-5 job, plus teach on Saturdays, plus one or two nights a week. My daughters are always asking when I can stop teaching, and every single time it breaks my heart.

    That day, God willing, is coming soon.

  6. mamajen says:

    I enjoy Revolution, but I would not allow a 13-year-old to watch it.

    Thank God for children. They say it like it is. I can’t recall specifics, but I’m sure I’ve had at least one of those moments with my oldest son.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Point taken. St. Paul wrote:

    1Ti 6:6 – 11
    “There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
    for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
    but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

    But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

    For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.

    But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”

    The sad thing is that more and more people have to work for less and less. I sympathize with the child, but, realistically, for an increasing number of families at the bottom of the food chain, they have to work longer and longer hours just for food and clothing. The family in the quote can afford iPads. What about families who can’t afford shoes? This makes for tough choices. This economic stress and unjust wages is a subtle form of war against the family.

    The Chicken

  8. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    “If anyone posts spoilers, I will ban her by IP address forever.”

    Sexist……..Tsk, Tsk

  9. mamajen says:

    This economic stress and unjust wages is a subtle form of war against the family.

    Amen! I quit my career to be a stay-at-home mom, and I can say that it is very difficult a lot of the time, but I’m lucky I’m able to do it at all. It is truly not even an option for a lot of people. And of course cost-of-living impedes our ability to support large families as well, unless we want to depend on the government. At times I’ve had to take on freelance work (from home, thank goodness), just for us to make it, and as a result my family doesn’t get as much attention as I would like.

  10. Cath says:

    I used to be a stay at home mom of seven. My husband was laid off almost five years ago (now recently laid off from a job paying less than half of before) and I have ended up working two jobs for a couple years and now working one and going back to school, and still not making ends meet, and no real hope for the future changing anytime soon. It is tough out there and it breaks my heart that my younger three do not get the attention my older ones did, nor do they get the spiritual formation (daily family rosary is a thing of the past) because of the pace of life, a pace I would change in a heartbeat.

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    One wonders where the proper balance is today. I send my kids to Catholic Schools, but the cost is so great, I dare not stop working. My wife dare not stop working. Before anyone goes off the deep end, my house is very modest (under 2000 sq. ft.). We are stretched very thin. Then, there is all the extra-curricular activities for the kids to make them “well-rounded”. It has gotten to the point I often dream of moving into a shack on a mountain somewhere, with the family, closed off from civilization, and off the rat wheel. When is enough enough?

  12. Bea says:

    After all, our “earthly vocation”
    should be:

  13. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Pious tradition has it that the Holy Family of Nazareth was by no means well-off. Saint Joseph would have had to work long and hard to earn enough to support the Blessed Mother and the Holy Child in any sort of comfort. Our Lady, too, would have had to work hard at many home tasks: scrubbing, cooking (which would have included cleaning lots of freshly caught fish), hauling water, sweeping, laundering, tending a vegetable garden. Imagine running a home without electricity or indoor plumbing. (The very thought makes me want to go hide under my bed.)

    Pious tradition (not infallible by any means) has it further that, when at the warning of the angel to Saint Joseph, the Holy Family fled from Judea to Egypt, and sojourned there, that finances were difficult for these immigrants, and that on more than one occasion they had to go to bed hungry.

    God took care of them, but not in affluence and comfort. They were accustomed to hard times.

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph totally understand and get how difficult all this is. If parents of young children would devote themselves to prayer to the Holy Family even while working, or even in very small breaks every half-hour so, to offer a brief, silent prayer, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist us in our necessities” or “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul” or “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, please come to my aid in this matter,” and pray, and keep on praying, no matter what, and teach their children to pray, and keep on praying, uniting themselves to God through prayer to the Holy Family, God will surely see them through as He saw the Holy Family of Nazareth through.

  14. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    P.S., I just wanted to add that my maternal grandfather was utterly wiped out during the Great Depression, and at the time, they had two young children, and they went on to have two more before the War. Although he took the trolley to his office each day, my grandfather often had no work, no income coming in at all. There were no other jobs for him to get; hardly anyone had work. That’s what a Great Depression means. They faced losing their beautiful home. So, my grandmother moved the children not still sleeping in cribs into the attic of the house, and took in paying guests to live in the rooms the children had vacated. That brought in enough money to pay the family bills . . . barely. As soon as they were old enough – starting at nine or ten years of age – the youngsters earned money working for their neighbors: babysitting, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow in the winter. And every penny they earned was turned in to Grandma to put food on the family’s table. As a special treat, every Saturday, each child got a nickle to buy an ice cream cone. This was a huge event they looked forward to all week.

    Grandma and Grandpa were very devoted to the family Rosary and to the Infant of Prague. They were able to put all four children through college, except one aunt, who attended one year, and didn’t care to go anymore. They didn’t lose their house, either; it’s still in the family all these years later.

    All of this was accomplished by prayer, faith, and the grace of God.

  15. StWinefride says:

    Thank you, Marion Ancilla Mariae, for that uplifting story! :)

  16. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    P.P.S. Thanks, StWinefride!

    I forgot to add one more thing: When my grandfather’s business suits would begin to acquire a “shiny” look – one step before “threadbare”, and he needed a new suit, there was no money for an expensive new, man’s suit. My grandmother, who sewed well, would take the old suit, cut the seams apart, remove the lining, turn all the pieces inside out, reassemble the pieces, replacing the lining, and sew the seams back in. After a good pressing with an iron, my grandfather had a pretty good-looking”new” suit that would last about half as long as a real new suit.

    She was a stay-at-home Mom doing this, who would also be on her hands and knees scrubbing the one bathroom in the house every single night, a bathroom shared by up to eleven people. (When she was eight months pregnant, she stopped doing the scrubbing for awhile.)

  17. The Cobbler says:

    I was just thinking earlier today of how one of the commandments is to “keep holy the Lord’s day”, which is generally associated with worship (Mass, as of the New Testament) and with rest (after God resting on the seventh day of creation — even though He of all people didn’t need to, so He must have been making a point to us).

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  19. Ella says:

    I could give a very sad story about what happened when I stopped work for a few years and became a full time homemaker but I’ll refrain; suffice to say that isn’t going to happen again. I now work a total of three 12 hour days a week which include working every other weekend. I do not like missing Mass on alternate Sundays but there is absolutely no Masses available at a time I can attend (I work from 6:30 a.m.- 7:30+ p.m.) however I do get to attend almost every day I have off. I am making more time for my children in my off time and I refuse to get an iPhone (or it’s ilk) because I want to pay attention to my children when I am with them, not stupid games or silly texts (as most are).

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