Today, January 9, 2014, we celebrate the birthday of St. Josemaria Escriva, born in Barbastro, in northern Spain, on the year 1902. He was canonized by Blessed Pope John Paul II. He is popularly known as the founder of Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church whose aim is to seek sanctity in the middle of the world through one’s professional work, a means to do apostolate and transform society from within.
St. Josemaria reminded Christians that work has a divine meaning and its purpose is to serve society. The significance of these teaching is that God created man in order to work. We can read this in the book of Genesis that God place man in the Garden of Eden to “till it and keep it”.
Professional work is an expression of man’s dignity and a means of improving and cooperating in the development and progress of society. Professional work is completely essential for the personal development of each human being. This is like a backbone and foundation to attain success meaning and purpose of life which is helping others for the common good through one’s professional work.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person”; and it defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”
This definition simply implies that being a professional requires the practice of human virtues. A qualified and competent professional is also someone who practices a code of conduct, ethics and moral values. But as what I have observed and experienced in my long years of working as a professional realtor as appraiser and consultant that there are many real estate practitioners who have neglected their oath to adhere in a behavior worthy of a professional.
I would like to enumerate 3 typical bad habits that I have observed, namely:
- Disorder – this is typical of one, who runs around like a “headless chicken” with a lot of activity but with no concrete results.
- Mediocrity – this is the mentality predominantly found in our society and business circles. It is a lazy attitude of not demanding more of one’s self, commonly known as the “pwede na” mentality.
- Frivolity – is an attitude of one without a matured mentality, incapable of taking work seriously. It is deeply rooted by a irresponsibility and laziness.
However, there are many more bad attitudes and habits, but this is not the intention of these article, I’d rather take positive approach, so that we may try to develop proper human virtues, in order to achieve a good reputation and prestige in one’s professional work.
My professor in economics, from the University of Asia and the Pacific Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, wrote in his article “Development Strategies Inspired by St. Josemaria Escriva”, stated “In an interview published in the Spanish magazine Palabra (October 1967), St. Josemaría explained the meaning of “sanctifying work”: “The expression ‘sanctifying work’ involves fundamental concepts of the theology of Creation. What I have always taught over the last forty years, is that a Christian should do all honest human work, be it intellectual or manual, with the greatest perfection possible: with human perfection (professional competence) and with Christian perfection (for love of God’s Will and as a service to mankind). Human work done in this manner, no matter how humble or insignificant it may seem, helps to shape the world in a Christian way. The world’s divine dimension is made more visible and our human labor is thus incorporated into the marvelous work of Creation and Redemption. It is raised to the order of grace. It is sanctified and becomes God’s work, operatio Dei, opus Dei.”
St. Josemaria Escriva’s Teaching: Opus Dei: How can we sanctify our work and sanctify ourselves through our work?
In Businessworld today on the front page, January 9, 2014, quoted Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, that the bunkhouses built for typhoon survivors are not substandard and have complied with the national building code Mr. Lacierda justified that these are far better than makeshift tents made of tarpaulins and other scrap materials, are just temporary shelters. However, I just find it very amusing when he said that “We are following ‘our own’ standards. We don’t necessarily have to follow international standards.”. I asked myself “are standards subjective to suit one’s own interest or are these standards objective enough to be internationally accepted?”. I used these as an example since I’m in the profession of real estate and know very well that when it comes to shelter and homes, the design, quality, size and features should be suited for dignity of human beings particularly poor families in need. These is an example of why our professional work has to be well done with the welfare of others involve. It makes one sick to know that taking advantage and exploiting the victims of Yolanda has been happening. That is why we all ought to do our part particularly civil servants have to take their work seriously and realize their great responsibility in serving the interest of the Filipino people.
Our business leaders, professionals, politician, government officials, workers and all citizens must introduce radical change in transforming our society and civic communities. We unfortunately turned very materialistic, greedy, proud and like a “jungle” where each one is dominated by self interest.
I am aware of the unprofessional practice of some developers and contractors, motivated by greed and profit to use substandard materials, cost cutting techniques at the expense of quality, safety and security. A typical example are fire escapes that are not in keeping with building code and ironically its utilization is far from escaping but rather wrongly designed that may lead to tragedies. It is unjust building and selling substandard or unlivable properties it is merely putting innocent people’s lives at risk.
I recall appraising a huge mansion, but to my shock, when I reached the quarters for domestic help, it was in a horrible condition, being more like a jail house for the maids were locked in during the night. However, the doghouse was infinitely better, housing an imported St. Bernard dog that required air-conditioning and comfortable mats. Therefore, as an appraiser, I did my value judgement and deducted a substantial amount for design obsolescence making the market value of the mansion much lower than what the owner expected. When he protested and complained, I pointed out the importance of having humane domestic quarters, and that it must be suited for human beings.
St. Josemaría’s message is pointing out the duty of all Christians to put all things with God, just like what the bible said” In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success”- Proverbs 3:6.
He, being a Saint for professionals, taught that business and the corporate world, and executives that their work is an important part and must contribute to the greater good building a society that is just. This can be done by creating and distributing goods in a just and equitable way, which should be combined with a spirit of service and professionalism that involves putting the needs of others first before self interest.
In a “Vatican II” document “Gaudium et Spes”, which clearly states that people should not regard material goods as belonging exclusively to themselves. Goods, while being privately owned in most cases, must be used for the benefit of all. Private property must always have a social function. That is why I have written in the past that more than exclusive land ownership, the reality is we are but stewards and responsible to proper land use, the environment and the protection of the ecological cycle of life.
If each one of us, will contribute and perform our professional work well done, with social responsibility can transform our society for the better. I am optimistic that the Philippines will indeed be a great nation if each one of us will do our part and work for the common good.
Let’s take advantage by seeking the intersession of St. Josemaria Escriva and pray for our personal needs, family, society and the Republic of the Philippines.