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Labor of Love

September 2, 2021 2 min read
A carpenter at work

This weekend we observe Labor Day in the United States, marking the end of summer (practically speaking) and, in many places, the beginning of the academic year. The bonus day off of work in order to observe the dignity of labor and the importance of rest points to a need for balance in life. If you are unfamiliar with the Church’s great tradition of social doctrine, consider cracking open a cold look at The Compendium or Laborem Exercens by St. John Paul II, who cut his labor chops in a salt mine in Poland.

Below is an excerpt from Laborem Exercens, presented for your Labor Day edification and enjoyment:

And yet, in spite of all this toil–perhaps, in a sense, because of it–work is a good thing for man. Even though it bears the mark of a bonum arduum, in the terminology of Saint Thomas, this does not take away the fact that, as such, it is a good thing for man. It is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man's dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it. If one wishes to define more clearly the ethical meaning of work, it is this truth that one must particularly keep in mind. Work is a good thing for man–a good thing for his humanity–because 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."

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