Labor Day and the Dignity and Value of Working People

Deacon Greg Kandra, over at The Deacon’s Bench, has a post today that pays a specifically Catholic and Christian tribute to the laborers of the world.

In all the ridiculous campaign hype about who “built this” we’ve forgotten that whatever it is, be it sky scraper, family home or interstate highway, it was laboring men and women who actually built it. They built it by the sweat of their brow, often for low wages and before they achieved the benefits won for them by organized labor, with no job security, retirement or health care.

As the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of both a railroad engineer and a cowboy (I mean that. An actual, working cowboy who trained horses for the Cavalry in WWI.) and the Representative of tens of thousands of working people, I am proud to be part of a Church who sees the dignity and the value of the irreplaceable contributions of working people to our civilization.

Deacon Greg’s post is a quote from a former blue-collar worker, Pope John Paul II. It reads in part:

For Labor Day: “By means of work, man participates in the activity of God himself”
September 3, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra

Karol Wojtyla, as a young factory worker in Poland.

“I come from your midst. I come from the quarries of Zakrzowek, from the Solvay furnaces in Borek Falecki, and then from Nowa Huta. Through all these surroundings, through my own experience of work, I boldly say that I learned the gospel anew.” — Pope John Paul II, homily in Nowa Huta, Poland, July 1979.
“The truth that by means of work man participates in the activity of God himself, his Creator, was given particular prominence by Jesus Christ-the Jesus at whom many of his first listeners in Nazareth “were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?.. Is not this the carpenter?’.” For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by his deeds the “gospel”, the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been entrusted to him. Therefore this was also “the gospel of work”, because he who proclaimed it was himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth. And if we do not find in his words a special command to work-but rather on one occasion a prohibition against too much anxiety about work and life- at the same time the eloquence of the life of Christ is unequivocal: he belongs to the “working world”, he has appreciation and respect for human work. (Read more here.)

  • neenergyobserver

    Yes, very well said, both him and you

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You put me in exalted company. :-)

  • Jessica Hoff

    A good reminder, Rebecca.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Jessica, as always.

  • Gabriel &Grace Akinbode

    It’s a great thing to remember those who have weathered the heat of the day. You are very thoughtful!
    Without the labor sector, life is in shambles.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Very true, and often ignored.

      “Without the labor sector, life is in shambles.”

  • Paul Bradford

    Is it not an offense against the living Christ and the Law of God for the Board of Directors of a company that is actually profitable, and shows every indication of being able to maintain it’s profitability, to implement a plan to increase profitability by ‘downsizing’, which is a euphemism for launching an attack on workers and families?

    Just askin’

  • Paul Bradford

    BTW, I don’t want anyone to get the idea I posted to promote or to discredit any particular political candidate. I’m hoping we can start to direct our attention, as a society, to the matter of repentance. That’s my issue. Too many of us fancy that we’re leading upright lives when, in reality, we’re destroying each other.
    I think we need to repent, and I think we need to urge each other to repentance.
    Final note: a genuine call to repentance is a call of mercy. We should be more interested in making mercy than in making money — since mercy is what we all need!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      First of all, thank you for making both of these intelligent comments. You raise one of the central issues of our day, which is whether or not economic behavior has a moral component. I certainly answer in the affirmative. I believe that the two political parties are committing mirror image sins: The Ds attack the sanctity of human life directly by supporting abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etc. The Rs attack the sanctity of human life indirectly, but just as disastrously, by suing the government to give full legal status as human beings to corporations, and by putting the wants of large multinational corporations ahead of everything else.
      Your comment: “A genuine call to repentance is a call to mercy. We should be more interested in making mercy than in making money — since mercy is what we all need.” is both beautiful and true.
      Thank you Paul.

      • EMS

        I thoroughly agree with you, Rebecca. I just read Rolling Stones’ (a magazine I never read) article regarding how Mitt and Bain made their literally hundreds of millions. Let’s see, they put up a small amount of cash, say $10m, borrowed $100+million from the bank(s), took over a company, say KB toy stores, foisted the debt onto the company, forced the company to sell its assets, fire workers, force it into bankruptcy, and cashed out untold millions from it. Mitt didn’t make money building a product or service, as the article clearly states; he made millions playing money games with the banks and the companies that were unlucky enough to attract their attention. So how come Christians/Catholics aren’t up in arms about his usurious, unscrupulous (but technically legal) methods? I’ll never vote for the abortion loving Dem pols. But I think Mitt and his cronies financially killed untold numbers of people with their money games, all the while pretending they care about the “little” people.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Amen my friend.