The dignity of work

You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defences of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, labouring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.

– Rule of St. Albert, No. 20


In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he warned the faithful against idleness emphasizing the rule which they gave to them, “If any one will not work, let him not eat,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) while citing themselves as examples that the Thessalonians should follow.

“We were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you,” said Paul. (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

As much as we want to dedicate our lives to God, we must also take care of our body and we do this by working, so that we would be able to provide for what we eat and for our other needs, without becoming a burden to others.

Working is also a way of showing how much we care for our community and our being part of a family. By the fruits of our labor we are able to help meet the needs of our community.

Working is also a celebration of God’s greatness, through his most precious creation – man.

In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being.'” (Laborem Exercens, Ch. II, 9).

How much value have I been putting on work?

2 Thessalonians 3:-13
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

Prayer
Lord, create in me a heart that appreciates and respects the beauty of labor. Allow me to appreciate the royalty of humility through work, recognize the beauty of serving others, and celebrate the dignity of your creation. Amen.

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Work and the “little way”

You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, laboring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.

Rule of St. Albert, No. 20


What is work?

“Simple,” you might say, “It’s those things we do that eats up our time, are stressful, not fun to do, but brings food to the table.”

Would you then consider studying as work? How about household tasks? Or, for a priest, presiding in a mass?

While giving a talk at the Institute of Spirituality in Asia on a Sabbath (that’s Saturday), Rabbi Fred Morgan clarified to a group of spiritual travelers that what he was doing is not work but a spiritual obligation. There is a difference.

If we would remember, Jews are very strict when it comes to working on a Sabbath. They would even consider defending themselves as work and so they’d rather die than lift a sword to defend themselves on a Sabbath. (1 Maccabees 2:35-38).

For us Christians, work should be an opportunity, a privilege for us to serve God by serving others; by becoming a true brother or sister to all; by not being a burden to anyone. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).

And when we work out of love, no matter how big a task is, it becomes easy; or no matter how small a task is, it becomes significant.

St. Therese of Lisieux lived her “little way” by showing her love to her sisters. For her, she need not do anything great, but to be able to do an unnoticeable little task in her community or to a sister like simply doing her best in her tasks and by giving herself even to the difficult members of her community, that for her is enough.

What are the little things that I’ve done for another, today?

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you,  we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you.  It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.  For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.  For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.  Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a humble heart, willing to share myself to others through the works of my hands. Amen.