Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Daily Grind

Blessed John Paul the Great wrote a beautiful encyclical about the dignity of human work.  Therein he describes how, in work, man participates with God in the process of bringing order to creation and finds meaning for himself.  All work can have this effect provided that the laborer is treated with due dignity.  Whether a ditch digger or a sultan, man can take pride in and draw dignity from his work.

My own experience has proved the late pontiff's words to be true.  There were many times, mostly as a student, when I went to bed at night tired, but having done nothing during the day.  Those moments before drifting off to sleep were filled with a certain dissatisfaction and restlessness.  By way of contrast, especially since having been ordained, there have been many nights when i have gone to sleep exhausted but content at having spent my day well.

Nights such as these have become much more common of late.  Besides the general responsibilities of priesthood and ministry, I have also agreed to teach a Church History and a Literature Course for a group of home school students, I am a sponsor for two different teenaged boys, and I am the alpha and omega of the Confirmation Program at Blessed Sacrament.  Likewise, I am helping to create and educate a parish youth commission.  In a word, I find that I am happily, gloriously, swamped.

Work, as Bl. JPII points out, however, cannot become an end unto itself.  Man was not made for the sake of work.  work exists for the sake of men.  For this reason, man must always take time for the sabbath.  He must rest, and he must acknowledge that life will continue with or without him.  The world does not depend upon the accomplishments of any single individual (aside from Christ himself).  Work should lead us back to an acknowledgement of our need for and relationship with our creator.

For these reasons, I do not feel especially guilty for having taken an extra day two weeks ago to attend the Bishop's Hunt for Seminarians (to my knowledge, we have never bagged even one seminarian), and last week to attend the first annual emergency relief Fishing Tournament.  Nor, I think, will I be especially troubled to take an extra day in the coming week to go camping with Fr. Sparks.

My work, I find, is deeply fulfilling.  In the midst of so much of it, I find myself thinking, "This is what I was made for."  One of the most satisfying parts of work, though, is this:  When one works hard, one also gets to play hard.  So, to all of your laborers out there, carry on.  Build up the Kingdom of God, and work so as to deserve a rest.  Here is a song to speed you along the way:



  1. Rerum Novarum! I love the idea of human work as cooperating in a yet unfolding creation of God, awesome ... great to hear about your work, Father, and your leisure too


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