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Hard Work and Dedication | September 7, 2021

We all celebrate the New Year on Jan.1st. It is the traditional recognition of the feast. However, I would offer that Labor Day feels more like the beginning of a new year than Jan.1st. The summer is ending, the students return to school, and many begin their new jobs or careers.

Archbishop Listecki


Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
 

 

We all celebrate the New Year on Jan.1st. It is the traditional recognition of the feast. However, I would offer that Labor Day feels more like the beginning of a new year than Jan.1st. The summer is ending, the students return to school, and many begin their new jobs or careers. We are going back to school or work with a vision to complete our goals or collaborate with co-workers.

Labor is such an important aspect of our lives. It’s ironic that we celebrate Labor Day with a holiday from work itself. The reward for labor is rest. The Book of Revelations 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them.” There are theologians who claim that we can blame our first parents and “original sin” for “work” as in Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, from which you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” But I would hold that it is the disconnect from the purposefulness of work that Adam and his descendants were condemned to experience. We have been denied the ability to see God’s presence in the reason why we expend our energies, and it will be only through Jesus that our work will be made holy. It is these works that will accompany us in the life to come.

Our work defines our nature. Some social thinkers define man as “homo faber” working man. It is an understanding of how working man helps define himself and create the world around him. The first summer after graduation was a rite of passage for me. I had other jobs, but they were menial and age appropriate. I cut lawns, shoveled snow, worked as an Andy Frain usher and was a soda jerk (my friends claim that now I was just a jerk without the soda). The summer after graduation I was poised to take my place among the men of my neighborhood and my family, working at U.S. Steel South Works where most of my family worked at one time or another. I was assigned to a labor gang in the Blast Furnace and Sintering Plant. It was extremely hot, and extremely dirty. I always appreciated a strong work ethic. In sports, the arts, and academics I watched individuals with tremendous native talent, ability, and intellect never reach their full potential because they lacked that essential work ethic while I watched with admiration those with only half the talent, ability or intellect achieving beyond expectations. That summer I learned to respect the work ethic of my fellow laborers, many who had been working for years supporting their families. I heard them constantly encourage the summer college student laborers to stay in school and study hard. I had a new appreciation for my father and uncles who daily went to work to put food on the table of their families, pay for their children’s tuitions and offer their contributions to their parish churches.

Post-Labor Day begins the new year, in my mind, and reminds me that nothing is achieved without hard work and dedication. With Jesus as our guide, we will dedicate ourselves to build His Church, perform good works and LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 
 

Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 7, 2021 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.

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