Each Labor Day, most of us enjoy relaxing and having a good time with friends and family. And of course, who doesn’t like a day off? But as we celebrate the unofficial “last day of summer,” we rarely take the time to think about the origins and meaning of Labor Day. And what does the holiday mean to us as workers of the Catholic faith?
Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement, and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes an annual acknowledgment of the many contributions that workers have made to the strength and prosperity of our country. It was in accordance with the plans of Central Labor Union that the first Labor Day celebration took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.
As devoted Catholics continually searching for the best way to follow Christ in our daily lives, it is good for us to consider the spiritual significance of Labor Day.
We are all co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, called to the noble mission of serving God and others. When we are working at our individual places of employment, we can always do a diligent and honest job, no matter what it takes. When serving in parish ministries, we can be punctual, kind, generous, and faithful to the teachings of the Church. When at home with our families, we can teach our children how to work hard and feel proud of a job well done. We can also take the time to thank those who work hard on our behalf. And when we acknowledge the hard work performed by mail carriers, and retail and food service workers, we can make an effort to give those who serve us a pat on the back, and show our respect for God’s gift of work in our lives.
St. Teresa of Calcutta encouraged the faithful to “do small things with great love.” This month, as we celebrate Labor Day, try driving to work with a rejuvenated, grateful attitude. You can also love God as you work hard at your job, allowing joy to come into your heart. You will experience your labor as something that increases your dignity as a person, and as something that disciplines your being – thus sanctifying your soul for the glory of your Creator.
St. Joseph, patron of workers, pray for us!