Saturday, May 12, 2018

Leisure is Necessary to Enjoy Life

Everything should be good, our study, our work. Competition is fierce. If you don't do well you will fall behind. Everybody likes to be first both in their work and studies. Everybody searches for the best. So begins an article in the Catholic Peace Weekly by a member of the staff. 

To be good you have to work hard. To do it half-heartedly is not right. You have to give it you're all. You have to give up many things: time,  peace of mind, at times family and friends, sleep, holidays and you will be complimented as faithful.

Labor is sacred. Work is precious. This is what we learned and lived. Work and employment is the ground of life. It allows us to take care of our families; realize ourselves and contribute to the world, a reason for our pride and feeling of accomplishment.

This is also at first glance the teaching of the church. Work is both a right and a duty, both a grace and an offering. Paul the apostle said: "Anyone who doesn't work should not eat." "Work in silence, and earn your bread" (Thess. 3:12). St. Benedict said: "idleness  is the enemy of the soul." The teaching on 'pray and work' summarizes such a spirit. It is the way of salvation and sanctification.

Why did he praise work so highly? The circumstances of the times required it. At that time labor was largely the responsibility of slaves and serfs. Hand labor was considered to be a lowly task. The monastery helped to change that perception. They rejected the material abundance and pursued a life of asceticism and abstinence. Labor and self-sufficiency was a value.

Times have changed. We can not compare our lives to that of the past. We are overcome with work. There is a goal to achieve and production goals. Each has a performance goal and appraisal follows. I go to work at dawn and work to late at night. Holidays are few and work is piled up. Companies strive for survival. Need to reduce labor costs to adjust the balance. Employees become working machines.

Labor destroys us. I work for my family but it becomes second in concern. Many work for the future but are not happy. Many are depressed, sad, sick, and lonely. Frequent irritation arises and anger. We need a break. I want to rest. I want to recite poetry on a lake shore. I want to walk in the forest and sing. I want to praise the creator for the great mystery of life and to embrace mother nature. I want to pray together with nature a beautiful prayer to the creator.

The church does not only emphasize the sacredness of labor. The Sabbath tradition is also in the church. For six days you shall do your work,but stop on the seventh day so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the son of your slave girl have a breathing space, and the stanger too" (Exodus 23,12).

Earlier, Pope Leo XIII saw the destruction of the  human spirit  due to labor. In 1891, more than 100 years ago, he proclaimed the way of New Things (Rerum Novarum). In that flow, Saint John Paul II awakens us: "Work is for man, not man for labor" (Laborem exercens) 'Through Work'.

Thoughts  on the way to work by our writer on the morning of Labor Day. Where on earth has God's  grace gone?