How Catholics live their lives in the public square is one of the hot button issues in the Church. For evidence one need only look at the recent USCCB General Assembly, where issues of religious freedom and political pressure where at the forefront of the conversation. And while these macro-level conversations are vital for a Church that does so much public good, I sometimes wonder if we aren’t missing the boat by failing to talk about how the average Catholic lives their faith when they aren’t at Sunday Mass.
Fortunately, Randy Hain’s The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work seeks to start that conversation, at least as it pertains to Catholics and their work lives. In doing so he draws both from his own experience as an executive seeking to integrate his faith with his work, and on the experience of other Catholics (through interviews included in the book) living their faith in the workplace.
Of course there are many obstacles to being a person of faith in the modern business world, from concerns about policies (official or unofficial) against talking about faith in the workplace, to uncertainty about the best way to broach faith topics, to incongruities between faith and business culture. Hain acknowledges each of these and offers gentle suggestions and tips for overcoming them. He also offers practical advice for nurturing a spiritual life as a busy professional, reflections on the relationship between love and work behavior, examples of good stewardship in the business place, and advice for managers and executives on the Christian understanding of leadership.
Each chapter includes several reflection questions, which makes this an ideal book for a small faith community or gathering of Catholic professionals. Hain also includes an excellent series of appendices with additional resources including recommended books and web sites, a œDaily Examen for Busy Business People, and even a blueprint for starting a local Catholic business group. These resources will help people put the material from the book into practice. (Personally, I’m already seeing if there would be interest in a Catholic business group in our area.)
I would recommend The Catholic Briefcase for any Catholic professional interested in deepening their spiritual life and looking to integrate a Christian outlook in the business world.
Disclaimer: I received a free manuscript of this book from Ligouri Publications.