Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work. Amen.
A special Labor Day message taken from
the website of St. Patrick’s Church in Pelham , NH, by Rev. Anthony Kuzia CM
“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet something seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by the bonds for sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” ~Albert Einstein
Our secular celebration of Labor Day is a good time to reflect on the Catholic teachings of social justice. This is because, at the core of our teachings on social justice, is the concept of human dignity and the right of all people to work and receive fair compensation. In 1996, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a letter called, A Decade After Economic Justice for All, Continuing Principals, Changing Context, and New Challenges. It is a reflection on the ethics of work and catholic Social Teaching. I would like to share a few significant points from the letter.
All who engage in business; managers, workers, owners and stockholders, as well as those who consume the goods and services that are produced are moral agents in economic life. Our choices – our purchases, our investments, the people we elect – all have the ability to enhance or diminish economic opportunity and viability for those by whose labor we all benefit.
All people, to the extent they are able, have a duty to work, a responsibility to provide for the needs of their families and an obligation to contribute to the broader society.
All people have the right to take economic initiative, to produce work, to just wages and benefits for their work, to decent working conditions as well as to organize and join unions or other associations.
The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.
As Catholics, we all need to be more mindful of the choices we make and their consequences for the enhancement or degradation of human dignity. We can start by making ourselves more familiar with the catholic Teachings on Social Justice. You can access them by going to http://nccbuscc.org/sdwp/catholicteachingprinciples.shtml. You can access the full text of the Bishops’ pastoral letter by going to nccbuscc.org/jphd/economiclife/pdf/economic_justice_for_all.pdf and downloading a copy.