9.03.2007

A Moment Of Rest

The above painting is entitled "A Moment of Rest" by Ridgway Knight. On this Labor Day we are encouraged to take a break, a respite, from our daily routine in the workplace and reflect on the gift we have from the Creator to be stewards of the earth. Yes, I said "gift"!

I can not tell you how often people confess their unhappiness with their work situation. The stress, the money, the boss, the co-workers -- you name it, I've heard it. The sad part about the situation is that many fail to recall the true purpose of work. As stewards of creation, God has entrusted to us the care of the world and its resources. Decades of inappropriate use and neglect of the earth, have caused us to look urgently now at a grim future. Desperately we are taking our call seriously and the time to act rests on us. Working should not mean simply to put money in the pocket and food on the table. Each job has a purpose and each purpose should produce pride in our work.

When is the last time you were proud of the work you did? If it has been a while, then perhaps your work is not done for the right reason. Does Labor Day, a day that we have celebrated since 1882, mean another three-day weekend, a celebration of the end of summer, a good sale? Or does it mean a day to thank the Lord for the gift of being able to make the world a better place with what we produce, giving thanks to the Lord for the gift of having a job, pray that fair trade practices, wages and health care are benefited by all of God's people?

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" which started the Catholic Social Teaching movement. Since then there have been several key issues that have developed in terms of the movement. There include:

  • the dignity of the human person
  • the common good
  • solidarity
  • subsidiarity
  • the purpose of the social order
  • the purpose of government
  • the universal purpose of goods
  • the option for the poor
  • the care of creation

In fact, much of the developments in the workplace are a result of documents written by the Catholic Church.

So today is not simply another day off, it is a day of reflection upon the "gift" of work and just a moment of rest.