Blessings on this Labor Day weekend. We pray for all workers, and that those who are unemployed may find meaningful work. St. Joseph is the patron saint of workers. The following is Prayer for Labor Day from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
As the sun rises to bring in the new day: We remember those who descend into the earth, their work begins in darkness, pulling from the earth, the resources we steward. We remember those who work inside a building away from the light and brightness of the day. We remember those who work outside in the harsh elements of our world, the bitter cold and sweltering heat of extremes. We remember those who do not have a job to go to, who are struggling to meet the needs of their daily living expenses, for whom the day becomes long and arduous. As the sun sets to bring in the evening of rest: We remember those who work at night. We remember those who are trying to recover from their labor and toils of the day. We remember those who participate in unsafe and dangerous work. We pray for a renewed sense of dignity in their lives and in their work. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the worker. Make a place in our hearts for compassion to the men and women who labor tirelessly for necessities. Ensure a place for the men and women who are struggling to find work. Grant us your wisdom to greet and care for those who are unable to work due to illness or circumstances that prevent their participation. Be with the children who are not able to run and play, but instead must put in a hard day’s work to help their family afford to eat, to live. Be with us all, Christ Jesus, as we go about the busyness of our work. Hold us accountable not only for our actions, but most importantly to each of our neighbors. May we continue to bring about your reign! We ask this in your holy name, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Labor, in theological circles, is governed by the Seventh Commandment. The Seventh Commandment teaches respect for property – Thou Shalt Not Steal – but by extension it covers respect for workers, their families, and the rights afforded them through their work and the duties toward them through the sharing of their talents in advance of productivity. The Seventh Commandment also discusses globalization, justice, poverty, mercy, and care for the environment. That is a broad area of concern that is packed into four words – Thou Shalt Not Steal.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the Seventh Commandment in paragraphs 2401 through 2463. This section quotes extensively from Sacred Scripture, most especially from the Pentateuch, Matthew, the Letter of James, as well as the Letters to the Thessalonians, and the Letter to the Ephesians. Also quoted are the great social documents of the Church from the Second Vatican Council and of the papacies that followed the council. Here are some of those thoughts.
“All persons have the right to work to a chance to develop their qualities and their personalities in the exercise of their professions, to equitable remuneration which will enable them and their families to lead a worthy life on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level and to assistance in case of need arising from sickness or age.” (Pope St. Paul VI, A Call to Action, no. 14)
“Work is, as has been said, an obligation, that is to say, a duty, on the part of man. Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history.” (Pope St. John Paul II, On Human Work, no. 16)
“In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited or because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth, no. 63)
“It is clear from the very first pages of the Bible that work is an essential part of human dignity.” “Labor makes possible the development of society and provides for sustenance, stability, and fruitfulness of one’s family.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of Love, nos. 23-24)
“Prosper the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17