We have arrived at another Labor Day. This national holiday has close ties to our locality. A man named Peter McGuire, first suggested it as a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold” in our national landscape: i.e. roads, bridges, skyscrapers, etc. Peter McGuire was the General Secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery at the corner of Cove Road and Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken. There is a large and beautiful monument constructed there in his honor. The first Labor Day was observed nationally in 1882.
As Catholics, our Church has always revered the hard work of laborers. More importantly, the Church has supported initiatives and policies that support and protect workers’ rights. St. John Paul II was a strong proponent of workers’ rights. His support of the Polish workers union, named Solidarity, ultimately led to the fall of communist oppression toward workers throughout their empire.
Today we honor and pray for all those who make a living and support their families through the calluses of their hands and the sweat of their brow.
St. John Paul II, pray for us!
Fr. Tim Byerley
Prayer for Those Who Labor
As the sun rises to bring in the new day:
We remember those who descend into the earth,
their work begins in darkness,
pulling from the earth the resources we steward.
We remember those who work inside a building
away from the light and brightness of the day.
We remember those who work outside in the harsh elements of our world, the bitter cold and sweltering heat of extremes.
We remember those who do not have a job to go to,
who are struggling to meet the needs of their daily living expenses,
for whom the day becomes long and arduous.
As the sun sets to bring in the evening of rest:
We remember those who work in the night.
We remember those who are trying to recover
from their labor and toils of the day.
We remember those who participate in unsafe and dangerous work.
We pray for a renewed sense of dignity in their lives and in their work.
God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the worker.
Make a place in our hearts for compassion to the men and women
who labor tirelessly for basic necessities.
Ensure a place for the men and women who are struggling to find work. Grant us your wisdom to greet and care for those who are unable to work due to illness or circumstances that prevent their participation.
Be with the children who are not able to run and play,
but instead must put in a hard day’s work
to help their family afford to eat, to live.
Be with us all, Christ Jesus,
as we go about the busyness of our work.
Hold us accountable not only for our actions,
but most importantly to each of our neighbors.
May we continue to work together to bring about your reign!
We ask this in your holy name, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.