The Spirituality of Work: At Home


In his wonderful book, “spirituality @ work,” author Gregory Pierce points out that work can be a source of spiritual insight, comfort, challenge, and growth; a place where the divine reality can be encountered in a  tangible way.

When I started ‘Spirituality at Work ministry’ in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in 2001, Mr. Pierce’s book was like a ‘bible’ to me. The subtitle to the book is: “10 ways to balance your life on the job.” I have enjoyed reading his reflections numerous times including now as I start the third ‘incarnation’ of this ministry. The second was in Las Vegas, the third in Spokane, Washington.

There is a creative energy in work that is somehow tied to God’s creative energy. While I think we can all agree on that notion, we are used to doing so unencumbered by a coronavirus.

We went to work, occupied our favorite space, and visited with colleagues with no health concern except if someone had foolishly arrived with the common flu. The pandemic has turned these ordinary activities upside down. Most of us in the U.S. are now working from home.

How discover the presence of God at work in these times? And what are the blessings as well as the challenges as we spend hours on Zoom meetings; tend to the educational needs of our children, for those of you who are parents with children at home; and be sensitive to the concerns of your partner if there is one with you?

I asked Vivek, a friend of mine who is a university professor, husband, and father of two young daughters for his thoughts on these questions. Here is his response.

“Some of the many things that staying at home has made me realize are: how quickly my two daughters are growing up and with the keen curiosity about the world that I wish I possessed. Their solutions to world problems are simple, not weighed down by politics.

Secondly, I am enjoying morning walks with my wife, a practice that we started because of the virus.

Thirdly, I have developed a greater appreciation of nature (he lives outside the city) and the natural beauty surrounding where we live; something I took for granted in the hustle-bustle of university life.” 

Reflecting on the spiritual realm, award winning writer Eugene Kennedy pointed out that genuine spirituality makes demands on us, challenges us to overcome selfishness, to love from the depths of ourselves.

Certainly this is true for those who have been working from home since the middle of March. Even those of us living in a religious community can have our patience with one another stretched. Living the Golden Rule takes on new meaning when one lives with elderly Jesuits who are especially vulnerable to getting the virus.

The Golden Rule and Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as we love our self finds new expressions due to COVID – 19: practicing social distancing and wearing masks when in public settings; using sanitizers and frequent washing of our hands especially if one is able to work at his or her office; and so forth.

It takes not only selflessness but a certain magnanimity. The English word comes from the Latin magna anima or “great soul.” It is more than being generous to others; it is a willingness to endure the sufferings and irritations of life patiently with a genuine concern for the welfare of others.

Someone of  “great soul,” Becky (also a professor) who with her husband has her hands full with two young boys and the necessity of home schooling them due to the virus shares that she is so grateful to the school where the boys attended until early March for helping them to learn at home.

She and her husband enjoy a date night together every Friday on Zoom while the boys love Friday night PBS specials. “Traditions keep us sane,” she says. Added to this: Becky made a five-day Ignatian-style spiritual retreat, via Face Time, in early June.

Working from home can be both a blessing and a challenge so shares another friend of mine who is also a university professor. Paul lives with his wife and their dog. They have three adult children and five grandchildren, all-living within a couple of miles of each other. He writes:

 “While working from home is not new to me, I now find it both liberating and isolating at the same time. I have the time and the freedom to organize my schedule and work at my own pace without the frequent meetings and interruptions that often occur at the office.

On the other hand, I miss those in-person encounters and hallway conversations and even (some) meetings. Surprising to me, I look forward to Zoom meetings and conversations. In the virtual environment, I see the faces of students, colleagues and friends in a different way.

I can focus on the person speaking and what they are saying more carefully. I am able to appreciate the uniqueness and gifts of each more fully. These are comforting and enriching encounters.”

 Seeking for God in the ordinary activities of life was a prayer practice that St. Ignatius of Loyola frequently utilized; as ‘ordinary’ as preparing a meal, playing with one’s children or grandchildren, working in one’s garden, or washing one’s car to name a few. This is a prayer method ideally suited for those who are working from home.

If you would like to share your own experience of working from home – the blessings and the challenges – please send them to me and I will share them. 


Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.

Max Oliva, SJ worked in Las Vegas for six years. The only Jesuit in the state of Nevada, his main ministry was called “Ethics In The Marketplace.” Now in Spokane, he has a continued involvement in Las Vegas, albeit on a part-time basis. His web site is found here -

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 01:13h, 23 October Reply

    Thank you Max!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 02:29h, 23 October Reply

    Hi I cannot claim that I actually work from home , but I am kept busy as I have been retired now for some twelve years . I am very involved in two parishes in my local area here in Victoria Australia, as well as several volunteer roles with different organizations in this locality some are at this time on hold due to the pandemic, others are ongoing. Yet I spend quite a lot of my time at home maybe reading various spiritual works or simply spending time among my various plants in what is referred to as my cloistered garden.No I am not a religious now ,Though I did spend some fourteen years with the Order of Carmel here , that paved the way for me to spend so much time in prayer and working with my parishes. I do not feel isolated in any way but love the times that I have in isolation.

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 12:19h, 23 October Reply

    Thank you Max. The pandemic has changed our lives with all the new normal.

    While staying at home most of the time, I could do the things, which I haven’t had time to do before, like cooking with different recipes and learning online. Moreover, I had more time to mediate and pray. To attend the 8:00 am daily TV mass has been one of my morning routine for the past 7 months !

    Stay safe and healthy !

  • Margaret Powell
    Posted at 14:40h, 23 October Reply

    As always this is a thought provoking essay and shared how others are coping during this challenging time.

  • Lynda Clayton
    Posted at 12:05h, 24 October Reply

    This is, indeed, a thought provoking reflection; however, my thoughts go in a different direction. Living through the pandemic when one has a profession such as Fr. Oliva’s friends may provide the opportunity to reflect on one’s values and to shift to a more contemplative way of life. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world do not have that advantage as many are balancing several balls in the air at once. There are those who don’t have the option of working from home and have children whom they must send to school because there is no one at home to take on that responsibiity. Consider those who may lose their jobs or their businesses because of the pandemic. Many are experiencing food and housing insecurity. Many families have multiple generations living under the same roof and have very little privacy. Psychological problems have exacerbated during this time which has been challenging for many. These are just a few of the challenges that many are facing during this crisis.

    Many of us are privileged and have been relatively unscathed during the last seven months, but let us not forget those who do not have the lifestyle that we are blessed to have.

Post A Comment

Subscribe to igNation

Subscribe to receive our latest articles delivered right to your inbox!