This Monday, as a nation, we celebrate Labor Day. On this day, we honor all those who labor for a living. We thank them for their service to their families, and for their service to all those who benefit from their efforts. As we know, prayer and work go hand in hand. Therefore, we are invited to pray in a special way for all laborers and for those who are now retired after many years of labor. We also pray for the unemployed and underemployed, especially those impacted by the COVID-19 virus in these difficult and uncertain economic times.
Pope Francis has a great appreciation for the fundamental dignity of the human person, and he has indicated that human labor is integral to this dignity. As reported in the Catholic publication “CRUX”, Pope Francis, in a homily earlier this year on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker stated, “Work is what makes the person similar to God because with work one is a creator, is capable of creating, of creating many things, including creating a family to keep going. And this gives dignity to the human person. The dignity that makes one resemble God. The dignity of labor.” He prayed that no one would be lacking a job and “that all would be paid justly and may enjoy the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.” He also reminded the faithful that, “Human work is the vocation received from God.”
As we reflect on these words of Our Holy Father, and as we celebrate this day, we are invited to make it more than a day of rest and recreation. It should also be a day of prayer as we honor those who embrace the human experience and who labor in the spirit of Jesus and Joseph. The following Labor Day Prayer provided by the Missionary Society of St. Columban reflects the spirit of this day:
Heavenly Father, on this Labor Day, we thank you for the talents you have bestowed upon us
and for the gift to share them through work.
Smile upon those who are unemployed or underemployed.
Provide guidance and encouragement for all those seeking employment.
Grant that they may find meaningful, rewarding work.
Be with those who work tirelessly for the good of all.
Protect them and grant them peace in their endeavors.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.