From the world of finance
Juan Carlos Fierro, student of Political Sciences at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
January 8, 2002
Before going into details I need to explain briefly what I do. I am a finance broker, working for a well-known investment bank in Washington DC. I advise clients from different parts of the world on the various investment opportunities open to them in accordance with their individual wishes and requirements. My job is certainly both stressful and competitive, and depends on the minute-by-minute situation of the market, since hearing a piece of news or being able to interpret it ahead of other people can make all the difference. I know that I start work at 8 a.m., but I can’t always say what time I’ll finish.
The first result of reading Saint Josemaria’s writings was that I started to receive spiritual formation, and to include certain acts of devotion in my day that helped me remember God and turn to him. That obviously affected the way I approached my work. But when I really understood the importance Msgr Escriva de Balaguer gave to the Mass, my work took on a whole new dimension. The discovery of the Mass as something central and radical in my day, made me start going to Mass daily. But the new dimension went even deeper than that. Saint Josemaria talks about the Mass as the center and root of the interior life, and turning one’s whole day into an act of worship. That means seeing how the Mass relates to one’s work, and then how one’s work relates to the Mass.
The Mass relates to my work. When I go to Mass I am quite clear that it’s not just a matter of being there. As in my job “time is money”, I am very aware of the need to make the most of the few minutes that the Mass lasts. During the Mass I offer to God my work, my family, friends and clients; I try to praise God, and I also ask him for things, especially in Communion. I not only pray for the success of the work I’m doing but also for light and help for the day’s decisions and negotiations, and for the people who have put their confidence in me. I thank God for so many things… and I leave in God’s hands so many uncertainties. During that half-hour it seems as though everything calms down. Then I consider that I am in the presence of the driving force which will make sense of all the day’s intense efforts, and will help me to keep my peace of mind when I am faced with unforeseen events and difficulties.
And my work relates to the Mass. Once I am in the office, on the telephone, in a meeting, seeing a client, sitting at the computer, wherever, I try to keep in mind what I have just experienced or am just about to experience: the sacrifice of the Mass. And that has all sorts of consequences. I will point to just three of them.
The first is the way I treat people. I no longer look at each individual as a source of investments to be managed, but as someone who has put his or her confidence in me, someone I have to help. This leads me to set up a deeper, friendlier and more sincere relationship with each of them. This attitude of real service towards them quite often results in our going beyond the strictly professional sphere. Sometimes I might give them a call to congratulate them on a family event, ask after their family, tell them about my own experience at work, etc., and when their concerns, or their family conflicts, large or small, come up in conversation, I can try and help.
Secondly, I realize that my work doesn’t depend so much on the current state of the market and its fluctuations. Now the Mass is the driving force of my day, and I try to draw from it strength and serenity for the rest of the day’s work. Obviously, that doesn’t put an end to problems and unforeseen circumstances, but it has changed my focus.
Finally, the double change I just outlined produces a unity of life that fills my whole day. This way of experiencing the Mass leads me to find the thread that unites every aspect of my day and, indeed, of my life. Before, I lived my life as though I was moving between different “islands”: the island of my family, the island of my job, the island of my friends, etc., with little or no connection between them. The fact of bringing all these together in the Mass, uniting them to the Mass, has meant that outside the actual time of Mass I find them united in practice, that’s how I see them now.
I’ve only given a few brush-strokes here, and they’re very personal to me. I just wanted to show what discovering the Mass as center and root of my interior life meant for me in practice, as I tried to turn my whole day into an act of worship. While writing these lines I was thinking of the still recent disaster at the World Trade Center. I used to work there on the 63rd floor, and I lost several friends on that day. While I ask Saint Josemaria to intercede for them, I also thank him for the fact that through his teachings I have begun to enter more deeply into something that is so important for every Christian.
List of Contents
- Human Rights in Developing Countries: The Nigerian Experience
- Giving Oneself in Family Life
- Mgr. Ricardo Blázquez, Bishop of Bilbao, Spain
- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Rome
- Msgr. Juan José Omella, Bishop of Barbastro-Monzón, Spain (Saint Josemaria’s home town)
- Msgr. Adam Exner, Archbishop of Vancouver, Canada
- I discovered the “Adventure of the Family”
- Christians have a responsibility to participate in public life
- From the world of finance
- Understanding what God is like
- Living life to the fullest
- Alex Grew 6' Last Night