By JANE WILSON, Special To The Bulletin | Published November 24, 2011
“Why Do We Leave Our Faith at the Door?” That is the question that opens the new book by Randy Hain, “The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work.” In the opening paragraphs, Hain makes the point that, as adults, we spend most of our waking hours at our jobs, but that we often downplay, or even ignore, our religious beliefs while in the workplace. Hain argues that instead of separating or compartmentalizing faith, Catholics should make the effort to integrate their beliefs into their everyday work lives. His book offers simple and practical instruction on how to do just that.
Hain points to “political sensitivity, rigid company policies, and simple fear” as the most common reasons Catholics are reluctant to put their faith on display at work. The book does not advocate “leading Bible studies in the break room at lunch or loudly evangelizing.” Hain’s message is much more subtle and beneficial. He advocates that Catholics should incorporate their faith into their personal working day—taking time to meditate and pray, give thanks, and contemplate their faith. In this way, he believes, Catholics can build stronger working lives, cultivate more meaningful connections with their colleagues, and even serve as witness to the power of the Catholic faith.
“The Catholic Briefcase” poses the idea that Catholics should make a conscious effort to weave faith into every part of their lives, inside the office as well as outside. He says, “Our jobs (careers) should support our vocations. Our vocations must never be sacrificed or neglected to support our jobs. This understanding is at the heart of integrating our faith throughout our daily lives.”
Hain links the story of his own faith journey to the teachings of the book. This is a powerful way to make the recommendations in the book come alive. Using a simple, relatable style, Hain shares the challenges he has faced in integrating his faith in all aspects of his own life since he joined the Church in 2006. He suggests that opening up your life, experiences and beliefs will be beneficial to you and to those around you in your workplace, and he puts that into practice with the readers of his book, to excellent results. The reader sees a man who is genuine in his desire to improve himself and his experiences, and that greatly increases the credibility of the suggestions in the book.
In addition, the ideas in “The Catholic Briefcase” are soundly supported by Scripture and by quotations from historical figures from the Catholic Church. Interviews with Catholic business leaders about their experiences add additional weight to Hain’s arguments and prove that the methods suggested in the book can change the impact a person can make.
The book is not all theory, however. The most useful aspect of “The Catholic Briefcase” is that it includes a plan for the practical application of these ideas. Specific, easy suggestions for action offer a guide for those who want to put Hain’s theories into practice. In addition, questions for reflection at the end of each chapter make this a valuable handbook for discussion groups.
“The Catholic Briefcase” focuses on everyday practices. Instead of pointing to “big” moments such as difficult decisions or times of change, Hain gives concrete suggestions for how to approach daily routines and cultivate habits that will support the ongoing integration of faith and work. One of the most appealing suggestions in “The Catholic Briefcase” is giving yourself time to think and time to pray. Cutting down on interruptions—and sometimes setting technology aside—are excellent ways to carve out the time and solitude to think. Hain also recommends consciously scheduling in times to pray throughout the day, incorporating a daily Mass if possible. In both cases, the time to meditate and reflect allows for recharging and reconnection. According to Hain, another impactful method for incorporating faith and work is being a good steward and helping others to the best of your talents. This strikes a particularly strong chord in the current economy.
“The Catholic Briefcase” is full of simple, useful ideas that make sense. By putting these ideas together along with guidelines for putting them into practice, this author has produced a handy guidebook for anyone who wants to incorporate faith as a foundation for his or her working life.
Author Randy Hain is an active member of St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell and leads the St. Peter Chanel Business Association. He is a frequent speaker and panelist on a variety of topics related to business and faith in the Atlanta area and an avid writer for various business and faith publications. He will be signing copies of his book on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Two Hearts Gifts and Books Catholic Shoppe on Woodstock Road, Roswell.