The Middle Class of HolinessThe Middle Class of Holiness

The Middle Class of Holiness

In two recent texts of radically different origins, Father John Walsh finds a surprising synchronous spiritual connection that he says might signal a “fourth wave” to carry us forward toward holiness.

John Walsh
3 minute read
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In their recent book WEconomy, Craig and Marc Kieilburger and Holly Branson propose the pursuit of both purpose and profit. In his exhortation Gaudete et Exsulate Rejoice and Be Glad –  Pope Francis re-proposes the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. There is a wonderful synchronicity between the two works.

WEconomy states: “You can find meaning, make a living and change the world. The combination of purpose and profit is the bedrock of the WEconomy. The intent is to show all of us how to find meaning and self-fulfillment at work, and to live our values while making a living. Capitalism, if it is leveraged properly, can be one of the greatest forces for social change. Social purpose should be embedded in the business model as much as any other value proposition. 

The WE movement is simple: turn ME to WE! Be the change. Make the difference where you are. Seek purpose and profit. Purpose encapsulates why a company exists. It should drive every decision a business makes. The people in the company are to live and breathe it, and over time it will be the reason customers keep coming back. Once a company’s purpose is right, it will secure business health, profitability, and future value. 

In Canada there are more than 170,000 not-for-profit organizations. The same strategy and discipline that goes into a business plan should go into making a purpose plan. The good news is that when purpose is done well, the social impact is sustainable, scalable, and effective. There is the realization that although many charities have been doing great work, the vast majority exist to treat the symptoms of a broken system. 

The WEconomy works best when businesses, social enterprises, and charities not only effectively collaborate and partner with each other, but also when they share knowledge, experience and learning. We can no longer depend on governments and not-for-profits to fix the wold. Companies are made up of people just like us. Make a positive difference in the world. If we all use the resources around us, we can make the wold a better place. 

Why + assets + stakeholders = cause. “Let’s say you have chosen to help the homeless in your community: that’s your cause. Your team’s corporate objective was staff engagement and professional development at a local shelter. That’s your program, but what are your social impact goals? Consider carefully which outcomes are within you power to change, given your resources. When the goal is focused, there can be a measure to track progress.”

It is important to know whether or not time, money, and efforts are making a difference. Measuring a targeted goal helps to find an answer. 

In Gaudete et Exsulate and elsewherePope Francis speaks against unfettered capitalism while offering a call to holiness in one’s everyday life. Our witnesses to holiness may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones. Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to God. In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people.

Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness.” Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.”

Alvin Toffler, in the 1980s, proposed a Third Wave. Toffler coined the post-industrialized world as the Information Age, and made startling sense of the violent changes battering our world. Its sweeping synthesis casts fresh light on new forms of marriage and family, today's dramatic changes in business and economics. 

In the WEconomy, as in Francis’s exhortation, a Fourth Wave is being proposed and we are all challenged to ride the wave. It may well be the age of synchronicity.

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John Walsh

​A retired priest in Montreal, Father John Walsh is the author of God Is Calling: Don’t Leave Him On Hold and is a high-profile figure in the city’s interfaith and media circles.​

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