Seven Labor Day Things that Caught My Eye (September 7, 2020)

It’s a difficult Labor Day for many — people out of jobs, people unsure if their jobs will remain, and a fear and uncertainty about the nation. A few links, with all of that in mind, and prayers for all.

1. Robert Royal: Our Labor Today

2. Msgr. Charles Pope: Labor Day Reflection: We Need One Another to Survive

3. Dan Darling: 5 things I learned about work from working remote

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5.  From Monsignor Luigi Giussani, Human Work, Speeches by Msgr. Luigi Giussani (a priest from Milan who died in 2005; he founded the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation)

Work is a need of man…The word “need” indicates that phenomenon constituting the living person, a living humanity; it comes from a deep drive within us, and is called “heart” by the Bible. Only by following this deep drive does the human person realize himself completely…So here is the concept of “need”: to make known the nature of the desires that move man and that come from the heart. The desires truly coming from the heart, those that are truly constructive, are limitless desires whose horizons are like angles open toward the infinite, because from any starting point, they gaze toward the realization of the whole person. Work is also like this. This is so true that where a person is not treated for that which he is, his work begins to become a hundred times more burdensome and at times unbearable. Man must say “I” with a little of that love of the One who created him, because if man is made in the image of God, there is nothing that renders him more an imitator of God than love of himself… That which renders the desires of man’s heart so infinite is the fact that man cannot trace himself totally to his biological, chemical, and physical components… For this reason, the religious sense—that openness toward the infinite—includes, explains, sustains, expands, and gives unlimited force to every human need. This sense underpins every need of man and is greater than any of those goals upon which he continually seems to set his sights. It is for this reason that man continually finds himself driven to go further. This “always further” is the relationship with the infinite, the relationship with God, which cannot be shut out of the relationship with girlfriend or boyfriend, with family, with work. The religious sense is the factor that ultimately determines the needs of man and, therefore, also that need which is work.

6. From Father Bede Jarrett, O.P., who Fr. Paul Scalia quote in his homily at his father’s funeral Mass. Father Jarrett, who died in 1934, was a Dominican priest from England:

Labor is the law of life. Even before the fall, action of some kind was necessary. The curse of God that followed upon sin only added the punishment of difficulty and weariness. Man must always work, but since the sin of Adam, it has become a burden as well as a necessity. That it is a necessity is apparent from the very facts of consciousness. It is the price we pay for existence. Life is incompatible with inactivity, for if we stagnate, we die. Will, fancy, conscience, reason, and every known power of man is subject to the same law of development—namely, to preserve a faculty, it must be exercised. Without such frequent recourse to activity, the power will become atrophied, will cease really to be of any value.

Labor, therefore, is the origin of all true greatness and dignity, the badge of intelligence. God on his throne is a principle of fuller life than ours, because of higher activity; and the infinite life of the blessed three-in-one, the constant interchange of Power, Wisdom, and Love is the richest labor (although, of course, without difficulty or weariness) of which existence is capable. The development, then, of the faculties is essential to their preservation, is a condition of life, since life itself must be always dynamic—that is, moving, growing, changing—not static or hardened, or still, or wrought into a perfect shape without intensity. A language or a science is dead when it is no longer capable of being freshened to meet the ever-widening experience of life.

Labor of some kind (even if it brings with it no sense of toil) is a condition of human life. But since the Fall, there has been added a sense of weariness, the result of which is to act upon human nature and make it shun activity as inconvenient. The difficulties that labor itself now always universally implies tend to make the average man escape from labor when he can. It is possible, indeed, that I am so interested in my work or profession that it is a real pleasure to me to be engaged in it; and the very sense of weariness that overcomes me as the day closes may itself bring with it an added joy, as of duty done.

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