By Deacon John De Gano
Graduation Day is approaching at schools and universities all across this country, and job seekers are being reminded that they should “dress for the career they want; not the job they have.”
Studies show that what a person wears is important to hiring managers and executives… even after they have landed the job. In addition, promotions come faster to those who dress for success than for those who do not.
As followers of Jesus, we should dress for spiritual success.
St. Paul frequently refers to this in his letters. In his Letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 6:11) he says that we should “put on the whole armor of God” that we may stand against the devil. Drawing our strength from God: girded in truth; clothed in righteousness; shod in readiness, shielded by faith, salvation and the Word of God.”
“Clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:14)
“So that our lives are lived as a witness of God’s graces—faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:13). Everything else will pass away. These three, though, will remain. And the greatest of these is love.”
Who knew that St. Paul was such a clothing maven? Yet he was not the only expert on how Christians should attire themselves.
“God is love,” St. John declares in his first letter (1 John 4:8). And if we want to be Jesus’ disciples, that is, be imitators of Jesus, then we need to learn to love as God loves. Immersing ourselves in his love so that everything we do, breathe, eat, think, etc. is inspired by and glorifies the Lord.
I am reminded of visits to friends’ homes when I was a kid and being able to tell immediately that I was in the home of a Catholic (as opposed to those of another faith tradition or no tradition) by the presence of crucifixes, images of Mary and the saints in most every room. A print of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper was standard fare in their dining rooms. The very air exuded peacefulness.
Do we still surround ourselves (and our families) with such things? Subtle and not so subtle reminders of our eternal home with God.
We certainly should.
If the 15th century English proverb “the clothes make the man (or woman)” is true, then surrounding ourselves with images of the divine and/or saintly should lend a calmness and a spirituality to aid in perfecting us (as saints-in the making).
Creating a home altar is one way to remind ourselves that our spiritual life needs tending not just on Sunday, but the rest of the week, as well. Images of loved ones, placed alongside of those of the saints, remind us of our eternal home with the Lord and whenever we pass by our altar we can offer a silent prayer for the poor souls in purgatory as we get ready for work or school.
The same can be done with work spaces.
The walls of my office host images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Jesus’ Sacred Heart, as well as those of saints and prayer cards for friends and associates who have gone on to their heavenly reward.
I even have an assortment of crucifixes and crosses hanging above my computer desk—a reminder of the awesome love of God and who and whose I am. My office becomes my daily retreat/prayer space. Anyone entering knows immediately that my faith is important to me and I’m not embarrassed to share the reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15) with anyone seeking a closer walk with God.
We have been fashioned by God to live lives of love before the world. How successful we are will depend more on the amount of effort we are willing to put into our spiritual ensemble—“for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).” and less upon our innate fashion sense.
Let us graduate to eternal life by walking the walk and talking the talk of God’s love.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Francis of Alexandria parish in Riverside.