What We Build is Good

“I used to enjoy climbing up the cathedral towers to get a close view of the ornamentation at the top, a veritable lacework of stone that must have been the result of very patient and laborious craftsmanship. As I chatted with the young men who accompanied me, I used to point out that none of the beauty of this work could be seen from below. To give them a material lesson in what I had been previously explaining to them, I would say: ‘This is God’s work [=(Lat.) opus Dei], this is working for God! To finish your personal work perfectly, with all the beauty and exquisite refinement of this tracery stonework.’ Seeing it, my companions would understand that all the work we had seen was a prayer, a loving dialogue with God.”

Friends of God (1977), no. 65 –St. Josemaría Escrivá


I may have jobs with more prestige or higher pay or a bigger office, but I’ll never have an office with a better view. Invisible in the photo, but not from the window, is the dome of the United States Capitol Building.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., the focal point of pilgrimage for the Catholics of the United States, has been under construction for over 50 years. The builders chose rather to build it slowly and patiently, trusting in the inherent worth of the activity and leaving the rest to providence, than to compromise their design plans in order to build it more quickly. They have not had to borrow a single dollar to do it.

Another church whose people had faith in the inherent worth of building: the generation which build the Florence Cathedral never saw it completed, but here it stands many centuries later, a gift for their brethren. What have we done for our centuries-later brothers lately?

I pray, dear reader, should you ever find me, that you will have the peace attendant upon knowing that what you are doing is good, worthy to be done.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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