Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pope Francis: Work Is an Expression of Human Dignity

Reflects on the Sacredness of Work During Weekly General Audience

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Vatican City, August 19, 2015 (

Work is sacred and gives dignity to the people. Any person or entity that violates this reality, hurts humanity. Pope Francis suggested this during this morning's weekly General Audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall as he continued his catecheses on family life, specifically this week focusing on work.
The Pontiff's comments were said in the context of how critical work is in giving dignity to human beings and in supporting the family, without which, the morale of persons and often the lives of children suffer. The Holy Father stressed that a good work ethic and willingness to work is learned often within the family from the parents' example. He pointed out that in the Bible we see this in the Holy Family, how Jesus learned to be a carpenter from Joseph.

Work, the Pope stressed, expresses the dignity of the person. "Work is sacred," he reminded those gathered. Because of this, he stressed, it is important to reflect on the serious problem of unemployment facing so many and to offer prayers.

"To cause a loss of jobs," the Pope underscored, "means to create serious social damage." When work is detached from the alliance between God and man and woman and is separated from their spiritual qualities, there is a 'degradation of the soul' that contaminates everything, even the air, water, grass, and food. 
"Sometimes the 'modern organization' of work has a dangerous tendency to consider the family as a burden, a weight, a liability for labor productivity. But let us ask ourselves: What is productivity? And for whom? The so-called 'intelligent city' is, without a doubt, very organized and rich in services; But, for example, it is often hostile to children and the elderly."
Turning to his recent encyclicalLaudato Si', the Pontiff noted that "when we engage in work, we share in Creation by caring for the Earth and cultivating it." Yet, when work is reduced to profits and productivity, he warned, this hurts humanity, especially the most poor and families.

Also during his catechesis, the Pontiff recalled how Saint Paul warns Christians that "anyone unwilling to work, neither should that one eat'.' (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

"It is a good recipe for losing weight, 'Who does not work, does not eat!'" Francis said jokingly. 

The Apostle refers explicitly to 'false spiritualism' of those who "live off the backs of their brothers and sisters 'doing nothing (2 Thes 3:11)," the Pope said. Noting this attitude is unacceptable, the 78-year-old Pontiff reminded those gathered that work and the spiritual life are not at all at odds with each other, but are complementary.

'It is important to understand this!" he said, "Prayer and work can and should be together in harmony, as taught by St. Benedict. Lack of work is bad for the spirit, as a lack of prayer also damages the practical activity."

[Blogger: I would suggest that work and prayer are not to be seen merely in harmony, but that work, when done with the animus of self gift, is prayer. The reference to St. Benedict is not enough because the monks do not achieve the sanctity of their canonically religious vocation by working, but entering into their religious state and taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Work, understood in the secular sense, is only a small part of their religious vocation. ]

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