Dear Brothers and Sisters,
If you have had to wait for weeks or even months for a particular item you purchased or work you needed done around the house, you know first-hand the impact of not having enough people in the work force. I speak to business owners all the time who are having to reevaluate how they can meet public demand. Many businesses are having to cut hours of operation simply because they lack adequate staff. “Help Wanted” signs can be seen in many stores and restaurant windows.
As we celebrate Labor Day on Monday, we stop to recognize an American civil holiday which was established to recognize the hard work, sacrifices, and contributions of workers. The Catholic Church has a similar version of this day when we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st. On this feast day, we honor the appointed father of Our Lord – St. Joseph! The feast recalls St. Joseph’s specific role as a carpenter and the model for all who work. As we honor him, we honor all laborers, recalling the dignity of human work as a participation in the creative work of God Himself.
The Catholic Church offers beautiful teachings on the dignity of work and of the worker. Work can glorify God and therefore good. In the Book of Genesis, God invites the man and woman to cultivate and care for all that God created for them (Gen 2:15). Work is good and gives a person dignity and value as they contribute to society and use the gifts God has blessed them with. Work also reflects our creation in the image of God; it is a way for us to be creative, just as God is creative. When work is directed toward some good goal, it is a way of serving God. Work provides people with what they need for a good life and increases the common good, especially the poor.
Although God told Adam and Eve the necessity of work, they turned away from God and decided to cooperate with evil. Their selfish desires led them to believe that they could have dominion over all things. When they disobeyed God, they broke God’s original intention for work and therefore God’s plan for work became distorted and difficult. The result of the sin of pride, God’s plan became distorted, causing them and us to experience work as difficult and burdensome.
Sadly, our culture now distorts work and makes it a priority over God. God gave us a day to rest and to worship Him in specific ways. Sunday is the Lord’s Day and therefore it is holy. Our Lord knows that we need to take time to worship God and to rest. Following God’s original plan helps us to keep proper perspective. Sadly, work has consumed people and distorts our relationship with God and with one another. We now see the chaotic results of people who live very frantic lives because they don’t make time for Our Lord and honor His day.
Besides the formal teaching of the Church about work, we also have the example of the life of Our Lord, who spent most of His life as a simple worker. Work and workers are also a prominent theme in His teaching—just think of how many of his parables have to do with work!
Prayer Before Work to St. Joseph the Worker
O Glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with thankfulness and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, never shrinking from weariness and trials; to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, keeping unceasingly before my eyes death and the account that I must give of time lost, talents unused, good omitted, and vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thy example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen. (Composed by Pope St. Pius X)
Fr. Don Kline, V.F.BACK TO LIST