Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

9/6/2009 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the United States we celebrate the first Monday of September as Labor Day. The Church proclaims the dignity, meaning and redemptive value of all human work.

In the industrial age, men and women were often reduced to mere instruments in a society that emphasized “productivity” over the dignity of the human person, the worker. The technological age promised something different, but has failed to deliver. Too often, men and women are still viewed as instruments and objects rather than persons and gifts. To grasp the truth that dignity of all human labor derives from the dignity of the human person who engages in it requires what St Paul rightly called a 'renewal of the mind' (See, Romans 12:2).

In the industrial age, men and women were often reduced to mere instruments in a society that emphasized “productivity” over the dignity of the human person, the worker. The technological age promised something different, but has failed to deliver. Too often, men and women are still viewed as instruments and objects rather than persons and gifts. To grasp the truth that dignity of all human labor derives from the dignity of the human person who engages in it requires what St Paul rightly called a 'renewal of the mind' (See, Romans 12:2).

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/6/2009 (5 years ago)

Published in U.S.


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - During the last years of his service to the Church and the world the late beloved Servant of God John Paul II addressed leaders of the Catholic Action movement in Italy on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. He referred to what he called the gospel of work. I wrote an article on that address years ago. Sadly, I heard from some Protestant Christians who misunderstood the theme, thinking that the Holy Father was speaking of works. Nothing could have been more inaccurate. Rather, he was proclaiming another effect of grace, that in and through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ all human work has now been transformed.

One of the late Popes favorite passages from the Second Vatican Council contains these words: The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown. He who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin. (GS 22)

In proclaiming the gospel of work John Paul developed a theme rooted in the Sacred Scriptures and desperately needed in this age, the dignity and meaning of human labor. In 1981 he authored an Encyclical letter entitled On Human Work which presents the Christian vision of human work. We live in an age that has lost sight of this Christian vision. This is one more bad fruit of the rupture which was wrought by sin. In the industrial age, men and women were often reduced to mere instruments in a society that emphasized productivity over the dignity of the human person, the worker. The technological age promised something different, but has failed to deliver. Too often, men and women are still viewed as instruments and objects rather than persons and gifts. To grasp the truth that dignity of all human labor derives from the dignity of the human person who engages in it requires what St Paul rightly called a renewal of the mind (See, Romans 12:2).

Pope John Paul told those assembled that because work "has been profaned by sin and contaminated by egoism," it is an activity that "needs to be redeemed." He reminded them that "Jesus was a man of work and that work enabled him to develop his humanity. He emphasized that "the work of Nazareth constituted for Jesus a way to dedicate himself to the 'affairs of the Father,'" witnessing that "the work of the Creator is prolonged" through work and that therefore according to God's providential plan, man, by working, realizes his own humanity and that of others: In fact, work 'forms man and, in a certain sense, creates him.

He emphasized the need for work to be rescued "from the logic of profit, from the lack of solidarity, from the fever of earning ever more, from the desire to accumulate and consume." When the focus of work becomes subjected to what he called "inhuman wealth, he said, it becomes a "seductive and merciless idol." That rescue occurs when we "return to the austere words of the Divine Master: 'For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?'" Finally, the servant of the servants of God proclaimed that Jesus, The "divine Worker of Nazareth" also "reminds us that 'life is more than food' and that work is for man, not man for work. What makes a life great is not the entity of gain, nor the type of profession, or the level of the career. Man is worth infinitely more than the goods he produces or possesses.

What a profound and truly liberating message for our time and for this Labor Day! This gospel of work needs to be proclaimed anew on this Labor Day. Our Catechism instructs us: Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat." Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ. 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. Work is for man, not man for work. Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and beneficiary. By means of his labor man participates in the work of creation. Work united to Christ can be redemptive."

A Catholic vision of work views it in light of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: God became a human person! The early Church Father Gregory the Theologian ( Nazianzus) , reflecting on the Incarnation, proclaimed "Whatever was not assumed was not healed!" The entirety of our human experience was assumed by Jesus, including our labor, our human work, no matter what form it takes. All work was transformed by Christ the worker! The Son of God worked. Even as a child he learned from Joseph, the carpenter, and worked with wood, with His Holy hands. Certainly he sweated, got dirty and even experienced tedium at times, but because He was in communion with His Heavenly Father all of his work was joined to the Fathers work. That is the same relationship we now have with the Father through Baptism. Certainly, He who the author of Hebrews said knew no sin was not suffering its punishment! Though there is biblical support that the drudgery or "sweat" of work is connected to the fracture in the order of the universe occasioned by sin (see Gen 3:19), work itself was NOT the punishment for sin. Adam and Eve worked in the garden and it brought them great joy. For the Christian, work can be a participation in the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus. Jesus viewed his entire life and mission as work. He was always doing the "work" of the One who sent Him (John 9:3-4). We are invited by grace to live in the same way.

The early Christians knew the dignity of all human work. Even their early worship became known as "liturgy" which literally meant the "work" of the Church. For them, the real world was not a place to be avoided - it was their workshop! They were there to bring all of its inhabitants to Baptism and inclusion in Christ and then prepare the real world for His Real return, through their prayer, their witness, their worship and their work. The Incarnation, Saving life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Paschal mystery, began a process of transformationnot only in His followers, but also in the cosmos created through Him and for Him and now being re-created in Him. The work of Jesus redemption continues through the Church - which is placed in that creation as a seed of its transfiguration. This is part of what St. Paul calls the "plan" and a "mystery" of God, to bring all things together under heaven and on earth in Christ (see, e.g. Eph 1: 9-10). All things were created in Christ (see Col 1:15-20), and are now being re-created as His work continues through His Body, the Church, of which we are members.

For the Christian, "work" is an invitation to participate in that extraordinary plan, if it is joined to Jesus Christ. No matter what we are doing we are, as the Apostle wrote, to "do it as unto the Lord" (see Col 3). Our work then changes the world, both within us and around us. This means all work - not just the so called "spiritual or religious stuff, has redemptive value. Remember, God Incarnate did not just do the "spiritual stuff. All human work sanctifies and changes the world which God still loves. St. Paul captured the hope of all creation when, in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans he reminded us that all of creation "groans" for the full revelation of the sons and daughters of God. We can have a new relationship with the entire created order - beginning now- because we live in the Son, through whom and for whom it was all created and is being re-created.

That is why this insight from the late beloved Servant of God is John Paul II is important for us to consider on Labor Day. There truly is a gospel of work. Let us renew our minds and live this gospel of work in the way in which we engage in labor. In His Ascension, Jesus did not leave us orphans. Rather, He lives in us and we now live in Him, through the Holy Spirit. He has capacitated us to live differently, NOW, through the Grace poured out through the Holy Spirit and mediated to us in the Sacraments. We can live this Gospel of Work in an age which desperately needs a new living witness of its dignity, meaning and true value. Happy Labor Day.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Defend Marriage! Sign the Pledge in Solidarity for Marriage, Join the March

Image of Did you read that these defenders of marriage faced tear gas and clubs from the riot police of the French Socialist regime? They sang La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, and called for the resignation of the President. Most US news sources did not even report on the Paris March. It was led by a growing movement in France called La Manif  Similar marches have occurred in Taiwan and around the world.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

One of the leaders I have the privilege of calling my friend is a great evangelical Christian and constitutional lawyer named Mat Staver. Mat is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action.  We have joined together on many fronts, ... continue reading


High school faces First Amendment issues with Muslim Student Association's controversial event Watch

Image of A student-sponsored event asking all female students to participate in wearing a hijab was cancelled after parents were outraged.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The principal of Mason High School in Mason, Ohio has already cancelled the "Covered Girl Challenge." Earlier last week, parents received an email from the school encouraging female students to wear a hijab, or the Islamic head covering, on the same day. A couple days ... continue reading


Good Samaritan who fed homeless for 10 years charged with unbelievable $2,000 fine Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Founder of the nonprofit mobile food truck Chow Train, Joan Cheever, was fined by the San Antonio, Texas police for about $2,000 due to the lack of permit for the trucks she is using to transport food. Cheever argues she has the right to do her charitable activity ... continue reading


Tragic final hours of Abraham Lincoln recounted on anniversary of his assassination Watch

Image of Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth's final words were reportedly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Long troubled by depression, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln awoke on the last day of his life, April 14, 1865 in an uncommonly good mood. Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd decided to attend the hit farce comedy "Our American Cousin," which was playing at ... continue reading


Courage in the Storm: Three Cheers for Wyoming Catholic College! Watch

Image of I do not personally know President Kevin Roberts of Wyoming Catholic. I have never even visited Wyoming Catholic College. However, the action of the President inspires me. The College is now on my radar screen, so to speak. I will be praying for them and paying close attention to their future. I ask my readers to do the same. - Deacon Keith Fournier

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture, every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential ... continue reading


Abercrombie and Fitch employee reveals racial discrimination and sexual harassment at work Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the past ten years, Abercrombie and Fitch has received a number of discrimination lawsuits; they even paid $40 million in settlement back in 2006. Just recently, an unnamed employee went out in the open and gave full information about the constant racial ... continue reading


Know someone in the military? They could be in danger from Islamic militants Watch

Image of The Islamic State is threatening U.S. service members and their families, prompting senior military officials to issue guidelines about social media activity, to protect service members.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State's threat of violence towards U.S. service members is being taken very seriously by U.S. military officials, who have issued a warning to troops that instructs them to hide all information about them or their families on public accessible sites, ... continue reading


'One nation under God' defense team claims victory after atheists back down Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Marking their fifth victory in a row, the conservative wing in defense of retaining the words "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is claiming victory on the newest court trial. This is due to the decision from the ... continue reading


Emotions spike over 'disrespectful' political cartoon depicting 2-year-old murder victim Watch

Image of Kaden Lum was brutally murdered at just 2-years-old.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An editorial cartoon published is viewed as "disrespectful" by the family of 2-year-old Kaden Lum, killed in the still unresolved shooting last March 28. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Kaden's family was left outraged with Kitsap Sun newspaper's political ... continue reading


New Islamic State video vows another 9/11 and to 'burn America' Watch

Image of Entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The evil media machine of Islamic State remains ever ready. The Middle Eastern terror group latest video declares there is "no safety for any American on the globe" and claims that the U.S. will burn in another 9/11-style attack. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 7:51--8:1
51 'You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
3 You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:30-35
30 So they said, 'What sign will you yourself do, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 21st, 2015 Image

St. Anselm
April 21: St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury and Confessor APRIL 21,A.D. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter