Christine M. FLETCHER. 24/7 Christian: The Secular Vocation of the Laity. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015. pp. 128. $14.95 pb. ISBN-10: 0814649688.
Christine Fletcher’s 24/7 Christian: The Secular Vocation of the Laity and Laura Fanucci’s Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting explore the sacredness in everyday life. Fletcher’s 24/7 is written for Christians who want to live out their faith all day, every day, in all the different contexts in which they find themselves. After examining the dichotomy that developed historically between religious and secular life, she finds a basis for a new understanding of lay vocation in the gospels and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. To assist Christians in finding their own unique vocations, Fletcher suggests examining their own personalities, talents, values, goals, and stages in life. She puts searching for and living out vocation into the context of the Benedictine traditions of community and prayer.
Fletcher’s book brings together a number of different sources into one fairly short accessible book, helpful for those reflecting on Christian lives in the context of contemporary ecclesiology. The book is at its best when the author uses concrete examples from her life to illustrate specific values. In discussing the importance of Sabbath, a day of rest, she speaks of the need she discovered, as a parent, for family time in each other’s presence:
Each of us made a commitment to accept no more than two evening engagements a week. So what did we do when we were home? Not much really—we were just there. Our presence—being in the same room with the kids even if we are all reading different books or paying attention to different things—had a different feel than our absence.
Her emphasis is clear throughout—Christians are not just called to service in their parishes or on Sundays; Christians are called to service every day in their workplaces, their communities, their families, and, of course, their parishes.
Laura Fanucci’s Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting is a theology of the everyday, worked out through the realities of parenting. This short spiritual autobiography of a mother of young children finds new meaning in the “mess” of parenting young children while also coming to a richer understanding of the sacraments themselves.
Any new parent will recognize the privilege in the experience of showering; Fanucci finds in this a reflection of the grace of baptism. She speaks a litany to her baby throughout the stages of pregnancy, opening up the words of consecration in her life:
You doze in the car seat while I lean on the pew’s edge, too exhausted to kneel up straight. I stare at the altar, trying to pray through a sleepy fog… For the first time I ache into what sacrifice means, what it means to be bread and blood for others. We are broken open so that love might take life within us…I am your mother. This is my body, given for you.
Her reflections on forgiveness, infertility, daily work that often seems like drudgery, family meals, miscarriage, and the daily re-commitment that is marriage are important in developing a spirituality of Christian life in the world. These two works, paired together, further a Christian understanding of spirituality and vocation as something in and of the world created by God, a world where the holy is found, not merely in separation and silence, but also in the joy, pain, and sometimes boring ordinariness of social human life.