On this day we remember workers, especially those who labor long hours in difficult conditions for meager wages. We pray for those who are seeking work, for those whose jobs crush them instead of giving them satisfaction, for those who long for meaningful work that helps to make the world a better place.
Yes, work is to be valued. But many people — by necessity or by choice — work at a pace that leaves no room for rest, relationships, or re-creation. May these thoughts from Thomas Merton and from St. Elizabeth Seton show us how to keep work in balance with the other parts of a full human life.
Happy Labor Day!
There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
― Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Doubleday, 1965)
Never be hurried by anything whatsoever; nothing can be more pressing than the necessity for your peace before God. You will help others more by the peace and tranquility of your heart than by any eagerness or care you can bestow upon them.
– St. Elizabeth Ann Seton