Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This past week my family celebrated my sister’s birthday at Lake Pleasant. If you are familiar with that area, you know that there is minimal, if any, cell phone reception. Whenever that happens, I realize how dependent I have become on my phone. It also reminded me that from time to time, I need to be less connected to my email, text messages and the phone that seem to keep my priestly duties front and center.
As I experienced that time of being “disconnected,” I found it difficult to not be plugged in. I was nervous that some crisis was not being tended to, even though my capable Parochial Vicar, Fr. Lankeit, was at the parish and ready for duty. By the end of the day, I realized too, that constant multitasking between work and leisure isn’t so leisurely. Even when I am doing my priestly ministry that I enjoy, I need to live a life that balances work, faith, leisure, family and so on. It was a timely experience as we approach Labor Day.
Labor Day observances began on September 5, 1882, in New York City, when ten thousand workers assembled for a parade. Workers and their families also celebrated with picnics, concerts and speeches. Labor Unions organized the event to demonstrate the strength of American workers and to seek improved working conditions—safety, reasonable hours and so on.
American workers were not alone. Pope Leo XIII released Rerum Novarum in 1891, the first of many papal encyclicals on work, as the industrial revolution swept across Europe. The relationship between employers and employees was changing dramatically. Some individuals had become wealthy, but most remained poor even though they worked hard. Pope Leo XIII's encyclical spoke of the condition of the working class and their dignity as human beings. These principals still apply today.
Labor Day is a day of rest and relaxation, but also a pause for reflection. How do we view our work as participating in our faith? Can we articulate our work’s contribution to the common good of our community? Do we respect the human dignity of co-workers and employees by encouraging good working conditions and a living wage? How do we stand in solidarity with the workers throughout the world who lack humane working conditions that we value and respect as Americans?
Let us pray for those seeking work this Labor Day.
Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon the unemployed in their anxiety. Please help them to find gainful employment, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from their hearts and that they can soon provide for those whom God has entrusted to their care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God. Amen.BACK TO LIST