Tag Archives: labor day

Labor Day

September 4, 2020


There is a very spiritual side to this civic holiday. It is a blessing to have a job, to be able to put our God-given talents to good use, provide for ourselves and our families, and contribute to the betterment of society.

It is an occasion to thank God for our health, our talents and abilities, the job we have, the help that God has provided, the opportunities that have opened up for us, the work that we have been able to do, the sense of satisfaction and inner peace that have come with all that we have accomplished, the things that we have learned on the job, the partnerships we have enjoyed with our co-workers, the relationships with clients and customers, and the fruits and rewards that we have received for our labors. This weekend is a perfect time to offer God a prayer of thanks.

Holy Family

Mechelen – The neogothic sculptural group of Holy family in the workroom form 19. cent. st. Katharine church or Katharinakerk. iStock-sedmak

For those who are still working, it is a time to recommit to being industrious and hardworking, diligent and dependable, energetic and responsible – to honor God in the performance of our labors. For those who are retired, it is time to pause, look back, take stock of a lifetime of labor, and offer God praise and thanks for the journey.

It is also a time to be mindful of those who are not able to labor, those who are not able to find work, or have been laid off, or have been eliminated in restructuring, the unemployed, or for those who do not have a good job, the underpaid, or for those who have not been able to find a job that corresponds to their abilities, the underemployed. Many are going through labor woes and are suffering hard times. Let us pray for those enduring labor problems that they will be able to find meaningful jobs that pay a just wage.

There are other terrible labor problems. Many workers labor under adverse conditions. Some are required to work too long or too hard. Some jobs are extremely dangerous. Many are mistreated by their employers. Children are forced to work in some places. Many are injured on the job. Let us pray that the problems and abuses associated with labor would be eliminated.

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Church job or not, ultimately we have the same Employer

August 30, 2013


Parish sanctuary renovation in progress. Work done directly for the Church or for a secular employer is all work for God.

Parish sanctuary renovation in progress. Work done directly for the Church or for a secular employer is all work done for God.

Renovation of my parish’s sanctuary began this week, and along with fellow parishioners I enjoy checking out the progress. As workers rebuild the altar, lay marble tile and complete other project tasks working directly under the sanctuary crucifix, they clearly are laboring for the Church.

But next month when these workers are laying tile at a car dealership or in a private home, will they still be working for God? What about the rest of us who hold jobs in secular professions, is the Lord in our work as much as He is in that of a priest or others working for the Church?

God and our work

Since Labor Day is about celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers, I thought it would be a good time to look at the role God plays in our work.

Regardless of whether our work is manual or intellectual, religious or secular, we engage our whole selves—body and spirit–in what we do, Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work.)

There’s much more of a spiritual connection than we might think because ultimately, our work is really a sharing in the Creator’s work, Bl. John Paul wrote:

The word of God’s revelation is profoundly marked by the fundamental truth that man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator and that, within the limits of his own human capabilities, man in a sense continues to develop that activity, and perfects it as he advances further and further in the discovery of the resources and values contained in the whole of creation.

As Creator, God alone can bring something out of nothing, Bl. John Paul wrote in his Letter to Artists. “The craftsman, by contrast, uses something that already exists, to which he gives form and meaning.”

Creator and crafts-person

Even though we’re not all artists or craftspeople, we are co-creating in some way with God when we work. Bl. John Paul illustrates the relationship between Creator and crafts-person/worker by pointing out that the Polish word for craftsman, “Tworca” can be formed from the word for Creator, “Stworca”.

As we share in God’s work, we also need to share in His rest, as Genesis tells us He rested on the seventh day. And we should be aware that we’re participating in God’s activity even in our smallest ordinary tasks.

Work isn’t just about making and improving things, we also improve ourselves by working. We learn, develop our faculties and transcend ourselves, according to the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes. This growth is more important than the value of what we produce and the document goes on to say,

“Technical progress is of less value than advances towards greater justice, wider brotherhood, and a more humane social environment. Technical progress may supply the material for human advance but it is powerless to actualize it.” (35)

As a worker Himself, Jesus undoubtedly made technical improvements in his carpentry work. In his preaching he spoke frequently about ordinary jobs done by men and women. Bl. John Paul writes in Laborem Exercens that we unite with the Crucified Christ when we go through the toil of work and in a way collaborate with Him for human redemption.

A “new good” from our work

Whatever work we do, when we take on our work we accept a small part of the Cross and “accept in it the same spirit of redemption in which Christ accepted His Cross for us.” As a result, according to Bl. John Paul, a “new good” springs out of our work which is a kind of foreshadowing of heaven.

Sometimes after a long week it’s hard to imagine “new good” springing out of work. But when we consider the Source and object of our work, whether or not it’s directly for the Church, it’s easier to understand its spiritual and temporal value.

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