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Happy Labor Day!  I hope you are all getting some well-deserved rest and important time with family this weekend.  Today is an important day to rest from work, but as Catholics it’s also a good opportunity to reflect on the dignity of work.  Most people spend most of their adult lives working, whether at their job or in the home, so it makes sense that the Church has something to say about it.  You might sum up the Church’s teaching by saying that we believe that work contributes to the dignity of the human person, allowing each person to unlock their full God-given potential while contributing to the good of society.  It’s for that reason we preach not only on the importance of safe and just working conditions, but also on the virtue of hard work.

 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote a “hidden gem” of a document in 1988 called Christifideles Laici (Christ’s Lay Faithful) that talks about the importance of laypeople in the Church.  (It’s definitely worth a read, so I put the link at the bottom of this column.)  Sometimes people think that religious leadership, or even holiness itself, is the domain of the clergy and religious priests, brothers and sisters.  This document makes clear that it’s ordinary laypeople who have the greatest potential to spread the Gospel and convert our culture.  After all, it is laypeople, through their time in the workplace and the community, who are able to reach every corner of society, places that are often harder for the clergy and religious to reach.

 

Lay people who are on fire with their faith have the potential to do enormous good in our culture, with the ability to transform politics, business, medicine, media, and a host of other fields by rooting out corruption and self-interest and using these fields to serve the dignity of all people, especially the poor and the vulnerable.  But no matter where you spend most of your day working, you have the ability to be the face of Christianity to all those you meet.  The way you live your faith in your daily work has the power to show others a real-life, lived example of the faith, proving to them that it’s possible to be a committed Christian even in this day and age.  Even more than that, you have the ability to show people how being committed to the faith can have a really positive impact on the world, while giving us a source of joy and hope in even the most stressful circumstances.  The real world, where you spend most of your day, is where true evangelization happens, and you’re the only ones who can do it.

 

So as you (hopefully) enjoy a day of rest on Monday, take some time to pray about your work.  The more we bring God into our work life, the more we might be amazed to see how God can use our labors to transform ourselves and our workplace.

 

http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici.html