There are some striking differences in the way that the world views work and the way that God, and the Church, view work. To highlight these differences do any of these sound familiar?
"I can't wait till the weekend when I get to be myself."
"Even though it's Wednesday... today is my Friday."
"Just waiting on the weekend when I can do some real drinking."
If you have heard or said, these or similar phrases you have encountered the world's way of thinking about work. This way of thinking holds that work takes us away from who we truly are and in response we must suffer through work in anticipation for a time when we can 'be ourselves' namely the weekend. This is not the way that the Church views work. The Church holds that to work is part of what it means to be human and that our work should uphold, and stem from, our human dignity and not an activity that somehow keeps us from being who we truly are. In this way we are who we are just as much as when we are at work as when we are at rest - we are not divided, we are a single human person who enjoys the same dignity throughout the week.
This fixation on the weekend goes deeper than a mere anticipation for time to relax. To declare another day of the week 'your Friday' or 'your Saturday' is to insist that the ordering of the days and weeks must realign so as to fit your schedule. If you work on the weekends you deserve time off work, you deserve the opportunity to relax and recoup, but this doesn't have to take the form of some calendar struggle to declare when your 'weekend is.' You are who you are whether or not you have your rest day on a Saturday or a Thursday - there is nothing magical about the weekend.
This fixation on the weekend and on 'having time to be yourself' in spite of work takes a dangerous turn with the introduction of alcohol. This line of thinking concludes that one cannot drink as much as they would like when they have to get up for work in the morning, and for some drinking gets associated with having fun, relaxing, and 'being who you truly are.' Therefore, people wait on the weekend so that they can drink and be themselves. I have personally experienced this way of thinking, and it is dangerous because it holds that not only are we, not our real selves while at work, but we're also not our real selves when we are sober. The Church again offers us the reality that we are always called to be who we truly are without the need to wait for time off or the weekend to realize our true selves.
One final difference between the way we in the United States often view work and the way that the Church views work is seen in the holiday of Labor Day itself. Much of the world, as can be seen in the blue shaded portion of the map, celebrates May Day instead of Labor Day. One reason that the United Sates has a different day to celebrate workers is that May Day has Communist origins, but it cannot go without noting that May Day, the first of May, is also the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, the patron of all who labor. As Catholics do we imagine that Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior spent his time waiting for the weekend so that he could be himself and drink heavily with Mary? Certainly not! As a Saint Joseph lived his life always striving for oneness with God and assurance that he was called 24/7, 365 days a week to be a disciple of God. That is how the Church views labor - as an integral part of our call to sainthood, not a burden, not a distraction from our true selves, but as part of the road that leads us to God.
|Source: Wikipedia article 'Labour Day'|
Have a happy Labor Day and use this day to grow closer to the one for whom we all work towards.