Part 15 – The Machine Shop and Maintenance


The maintenance work at Madonna House is done by men who approach their repairs with a Gospel vision. What it means to them is well described by Catherine:

“To ‘maintain’ means to keep whole, to keep intact, to prolong life and usefulness. It also means to repair, to make whole again that which was broken, damaged, dented, or misused. It also means sometimes to change ugliness into beauty. It means to restore something that seems useless, something that could be put to use again by loving care.

They must be men of order, great order. For it behooves them to enter into the great tranquility of God’s order. By ordering all things sweetly, the Lord restores broken souls and hearts and minds and occasionally broken bodies as well. Maintenance men must realize that God has given them a very special grace, the grace of healing and ‘restoring’ his creatures. Houses, furniture, tools — all these are ‘creatures of God.’


Everything in the world contains God and is touched by God. Who is there among us who would dare to use the chalice of the Eucharist for some ordinary purpose, let alone for some menial purpose. Man can desecrate the creatures of God. A chalice and a Host are visible realities of God’s presence. But to the eyes of faith, other realities are signs of his presence as well. The car we drive, the corn-cutter we use, the truck that carries the packages, the electrical motor or fan, the chain saw, the heater, the tractor — these too are chalices of God’s creation, transmitting his intelligence, love, and tenderness through the minds of men. It follows, therefore, that, in a manner of speaking, when we abuse a machine we are guilty of the desecration of a creature of God.”