As a nation, this Monday 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. We also called to remember and pray for all those who are now retired after many years of labor, and for the unemployed and underemployed.
The Catholic Church focuses on the dignity of the human person and the dignity of labor; since labor is clearly important to the human experience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2427, 2428) states:
* “Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation.”
* “Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from Him.”
* “In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary.”
* “Everyone should draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.”
Pope Francis also has a deep appreciation for the dignity of labor, and for those who work. As reported in the Catholic publication “CRUX”, he indicated that work is not just an occupation, but a mission. He stated, “We collaborate with the creative work of God when, through our work, we cultivate and preserve creation; we participate, in the spirit of Jesus, in His redemptive mission, when by our activity we give sustenance to our families and respond to the needs of our neighbor.” He further reminded the faithful that Jesus, who spent time working as a carpenter, “invites us to follow in His footsteps through work.” Pope Francis also noted that work must always serve the human person and not the other way around.
The following “PRAYER FOR LABOR DAY” provided by the publication “Our Sunday Visitor” reflects the spirit of this day.
Lord, on this Labor Day, we thank you for the blessing of work.
We ask for strength to complete each day.
We ask for rest when we are weary.
We ask your guidance for everyone seeking employment,
And we ask that you be with those whose faces we might never see
But who work tirelessly each day for the good of us all. Amen.
As we celebrate this day, we are invited to make it more than a day of rest and recreation. It should be a day when we honor those who labor for a living, including those who labor for the Lord. Hopefully, we will also treat it as a day of prayer for those who truly labor in the spirit of Jesus and St. Joseph.