“Office Space” Holiness

The 1999 movie Office Space is one of American film’s greatest cult classics, poignantly depicting mundane office life through the eyes of fed-up workers at a typical 90s software company.

Many who haven’t seen the movie may know it from its popular quotes like “I believe you have my stapler” or…

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But the movie’s most iconic scene comes when the main character and two coworkers finally have enough of the never-functioning office printer.

The trio takes the printer out into a deserted meadow, tosses it to the ground, and begins to mercilessly pummel the machine with kicks, punches, and strikes from their trusty Louisville Slugger. Each takes his turn, and little is left of the inkjet by the end.

Though I haven’t watched the movie itself in several years, this scene sprung to my mind recently when watching a talk given by the ever-brilliant Bishop Robert Barron (because of course it did). Bishop Barron was talking about what he calls the “YouTube Heresies” — those topics frequently misconstrued in the comment section of the bishop’s popular videos.

One of those “heresies” involves atheists and agnostics often pointing the finger at the so-called vengeful God of the Old Testament through a story in the first book of Samuel, Chapter 15.

Saul, the king of Israel, had been ordered by God, through the prophet Samuel, to wage war on and entirely exterminate the nation of Amalek, which had ambushed and harmed the Israelites (God’s chosen people) in the book of Exodus on their way out of Egypt. Saul led his army in a successful battle, killing nearly everything save for Amalek’s best livestock, as well as their king, Agag.

Though Saul was satisfied with his victory, as well as the spoils he had taken from the Amalekites, Samuel was irate upon finding out what Saul had done. Reminding Saul of the order to eradicate the entire nation of Amalek, Samuel had all of the livestock killed, then (yes, this is in the Bible) had Agag brought before him where he “hacked Agag to pieces.” (1 Sam. 15:33)

The Word of the Lord…

So, a prophet of God brutally kills a man, and there’s supposed to be a parallel to office workers in a movie smashing a printer to bits?

As is always the case, there’s more to this Old Testament story than meets the eye.

The nation of Amalek, as the Church has understood it since the very early centuries, stands for sin. Samuel’s insistence to Saul that all of Amalek be wiped out is illustrative of God’s desire for us to be wholly pure, to aim and strive for complete and perfect union with him — which, as it were, is precisely what heaven will be.

What good is it, Bishop Barron says, for a husband to say to his wife, “Honey, I promise to be faithful to you 95 percent of the time!” or a person to say, “I promise to not kill my neighbor on 364 days of the year!” It’s an absurdity when we put it in those terms, but it should make similar sense when applying it to the more subtle areas of sin in our lives.

The printer, like Amalek, needed to be utterly destroyed, lest it be repaired and be able to rise again, causing renewed printer-jam anguish in the lives of lowly office workers.

And so it is with sin. It requires a radical decision on our part – one that asks us to leave nothing behind and to allow God to root out the entire problem, not just 95 percent of it. We should take a leaf out of books of Samuel and the Office Space trio, then, and begin to look at our sin with repulsion, striving to smash it to pieces daily through things like prayer, fasting, attending Confession and receiving the Eucharist.

God gives us the baseball bat. All that’s left for us is to use it.

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7 Simple Ways to Grow in Holiness Before Noon

It’s easy to look at great saints and be intimidated. Whether it’s the stories of their personal holiness, their martyrdom, or just that their greatness is so revered, we tend to think it’s out of reach. We think that a deeply intimate, personal relationship with God is something reserved for someone that’s not us. But it should be encouraging to know that a “saint” is just a person who ends up in Heaven once God calls them home.

Getting to heaven isn’t just possible for us, it’s encouraged, and when you break it down it can be incredibly simple! Daily duties that otherwise seem mundane, pointless, or something you could just go without and be fine, when instead offered to God as prayers, can become vehicles for us to grow in relationship with Him and get us closer to our eternal reward.

Here’s some things to help you grow closer to your heavenly reward each day before lunch!

1. Pop out of bed with the first alarm.

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An extremely accurate rendering

The first one might just be the hardest. When it comes to waking up in the morning, I’m the worst offender of hitting snooze a few times before waking up (also known as the “Holy Trinity of Snoozing” phenomenon). However, St. Josemaria Escriva spoke about the value in doing the opposite:

The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish. -The Way, 206

Despite getting a few more minutes of shut-eye, the difficulty of rolling out of a warm bed into the cold, so-not-bed environment of your room can, rightly considered, be good for your soul.

2. Make your bed.

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(Disclaimer: Your mothers didn’t put me up to this.) In the first chapter of James, we read that “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above” (1:17). Your bed is a good gift. Taking care of that gift (and any other) is a natural way of showing honor and being thankful to God for it. Right out of the gates in the morning, taking 30 seconds to make your bed will not only get you praying before breakfast, but it will start your day off with a small sense of accomplishment.

3. Say a little extra grace before breakfast.

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As much as you might be tempted to say the “Bless us, O Lord…” prayer in 5 seconds or less before diving into your Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it’s always better to make an intention for someone or something else that could use prayers that day. Doing so will make saying grace less of an obligation and more of an offering, and that’s always a good thing.

4. Take care of your dishes.

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(Again, not your mom here.) It doesn’t get simpler than this. Whether it’s just putting them in the dishwasher or washing them and leaving them to dry, it’s still a task that’s more difficult than just leaving them in the sink for later. Offering that extra minute up as a prayer for someone you’ll encounter later that day as you’re washing will make it all worth it.

5. Smile at a stranger on your way to work.

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Not in a creepy way, of course. Studies have shown for decades the value of a simple gesture of kindness like a smile at someone on the street. It’s really easy to walk past someone while we’re checking our phones, or to ignore a homeless person on a street corner, but challenging ourselves to look someone in the eye and give them a genuine smile helps us to recognize both their personhood and God’s presence in our fellow humans.

6. Deny the temptation to snack between breakfast and lunch.

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When Jesus said, “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” I don’t think He was referring to us saying no to the box(en) of donuts in the break room. However, there’s something to be said about denying ourselves small pleasures as a way of prayer. Those little micro-fasts are great opportunities to say, “Lord, this stinks, because I really like donuts. But for You and for this person I’m praying for, I can go without it.”

7. Take notice of something you normally wouldn’t.

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Avoid the cuteness. I dare you.

The world we live in is filled with a remarkable amount of goodness, beauty, and intentional order that nearly always go unnoticed. Our busy existence usually does little but cause additional stress, so it follows that giving ourselves a mandated break from that busy-ness to observe a simple beauty will offer us a reprieve and some much-needed peace. As Fr. Robert Barron so eloquently put it just this week,

God is the unconditioned source of goodness, truth, and beauty. Therefore whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is beautiful participates in God and reflects God. And so…the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a beautifully-proportioned building, a handsome face smiling in friendliness, an innocent child at play, a crisply executed fast break, a well-written television program, all these things in their truth, goodness, and beauty speak of God.

Even finding a couple minutes of goodness or beauty in the morning will make your day infinitely better.

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All of these things boil down to one central point: thinking of yourself less and serving others more. It’s the great paradox of our call to holiness. We were given freedom, and in 1 Peter we read, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”

A grand plan of action—biting off half the elephant when you can only chew one bite at a time—isn’t what anyone has to do to get to heaven. A year-long mission trip in a third-world country may be what God is calling some people to do; That’s just fine and dandy, but God’s call to holiness isn’t necessarily measured according to how many miles we travel or how many mouths we feed over the course of our lives. Our journey to heaven is measured by how and when we say “Yes” to that call, even when it’s as simple as making our bed.

“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

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