Saturday, February 3, 2007


1. God created man master of the world. He commanded him to populate it and to rule it (Cf. Gen. 1: 28). He placed him in an earthly paradise, to till it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15).

As long as man remained in the state of innocence, however, work was a pleasure. It gave him the joy of collaborating with God in the work of creation. Today work is still a pleasure. By working we co-operate with God, because it was His intention that the resources of the earth should be exploited by human industry and intelligence and should benefit both the individual and society. Work is a noble occupation, because it involves co-operation with God's work of creation and conservation. If anybody tries to deprive it of its lofty human character and to reduce it to the level of mere toil, regarding it as nothing more than an instrument of production or a handy system of exchange, he is debasing the worker and robbing him of all spiritual incentive.

2. Since the fall of Adam, work is not only a pleasure, but a burden and an atonement as well. It is deceitful to hold out the promise of a paradise of workers, a possibility in which no intelligent person could be expected to believe. The so-called plan for workers, designed to create a paradise upon earth, produces only a system of regimentation in which men cease to be free and become insignificant parts of the all-powerful sate mechanism. We must oppose this degradingly materialistic conception of labour. Work is a command of God Who, after the sin of Adam, told him and his sons: In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread (Gen. 3:19).

Let us accept from God this high responsibility of co-operating with Him in His work of creation and redemption. Let us accept it alike when it is a pleasure and when it is a sacrifice. Let us accept it with the cheerfulness of the Saints, or at least with resignation. Let us realise that by working we purify our souls and atone for our sins. We also make ourselves useful to our brothers on earth, because the work of our hands and of our minds exercises a social function, especially on behalf of the abandoned classes. It is an apostolate of expiation and redemption for large numbers of souls who are sunk in ignorance and sin.

3. Work is both a right and a duty. It is a right because God created the wealth of the earth for all men. All men, therefore, have the right to exploit these resources and to receive the reward of their labour. If anyone denies or obstructs this fundamental right to work, he is opposing God and committing a grave injustice against his fellowmen and against society. If society does not provide work for all its citizens, it become an unjust organisation capable of bringing into being all types of disorder. If anyone has the opportunity of providing employment and does not do so, he is sinning. If anyone has great wealth and stores it away uselessly, enjoying it himself in pleasant idleness, not only does he sin, but he can sin very seriously. They are guilt of grave sin also who through selfishness do not pay a just wage to their employees, or who through greed for profit create an unchristian and inhuman social gulf between employees and their employers. Meditate seriously on these sacrosanct principles, which have their basis in the Gospel.

Work is also a duty. Everybody must work, either manually or intellectually. So God decreed to Adam in the garden of Eden. St. Paul says very clearly: If any man will not work, neither let him eat (2 Thess. 3:10).

It is wonderful to see how anxious Jesus was to sanctify labour, first of all as a humble workman for thirty years, then as Teacher and Redeemer for the last three years of His life. This is a magnificent example for manual and intellectual workers alike. It is an example which the Saints followed until they had exhausted all their strength.

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