‘It is not the nature of the task but its consecration which is important.’
I discovered this quote many years ago. I now cannot even remember who said it and, for me, it doesn’t matter either. What is important is the message: as I read it, whatever the task is, however difficult, however routine or boring, however unexciting and familiar—it is consecrated to God.
As we settle into another year, this may be a good point to think about. Yet again this year will be full of tasks. The message for me is to try and consecrate all the jobs ahead to God.
Some of the major tasks of this year will concern World Youth Day 2008. The opportunity to host young pilgrims travelling to Sydney is only a matter of weeks away.
As we host Days in the Dioceses here in the Wellington Archdiocese, parishes will need to do a great deal of work. Perhaps this preparation is something we also consecrate or ‘offer up’ for the success of World Youth Day and for the young people of the church.
All parishes have been invited to host a Holy Hour of Power, an hour of prayer each week before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for the success of World Youth Day. I invite parishioners everywhere to participate in that Holy Hour of Power and to consecrate that hour of prayer to World Youth Day, the youth and young people of our Church.
The idea of “offering up” has long been a tradition in the church. For many people, the morning offering—an offering of every thought, word and action of the day to God—is a reality in their lives.
In his recent encyclical, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote:
I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of ‘offering up’ the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating ‘jabs’, thereby giving them a meaning.
Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up?
Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ’s great ‘compassion’ so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race.
In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.
(Spe Salvi, 40)
I, too, believe it is opportune to revive this tradition of offering everything to God.
In 2008, it does not have to be for World Youth Day but I believe that this is most certainly a very worthy cause.
There may be other things you wish to offer up: your prayers, works, thoughts and deeds. There may be other ways of allowing the small inconveniences of daily life to become part of God’s plan for good and for a loving world.
There is a group of people in the archdiocese I meet with regularly. I often ask them to pray for some special intention or for some difficult problem that I am dealing with. Their response is always, ‘We will live the day for you, and for that intention’.
I am always deeply moved by this response and to know that there are people who are praying, reflecting and offering up their day.
Perhaps in 2008, we can revive the morning offering: that devotion of offering up the minor daily hardships that ‘strike at us like irritating jabs’ and thereby give them a meaning.
Perhaps it is opportune for all of us to reflect on: ‘It is not the nature of the task, but its consecration which is important’.
Archbishop John Dew