Someone speaking of giving one’s energy, focus, mind and heart to “the work”. Speaking in a religious context.
Do not normally associate “the work” as a term of religious devotion or observance. While much religious adherence involves spiritual struggles, it seems that describing such struggles as “the work” moves things somewhat away from faith.
Recognized the term from All The Little Animals, a 1998 film co-starring John Hurt and Christian Bale. In the film, Hurt spends his time as a hermit. burying dead animals that have been killed by automobiles or other human instrumentation. He refers to this as “the work”, since this becomes his life focus:
“The work” as a constructed life focus…
Then one encounters the Catholic religious organization Opus Dei (“the work of God”), where members and supporters of the organization refer to it as “The Work”. All-consuming. With all-consuming pain: