Yesterday, we celebrated Labor Day, a day in which we value the dignity of work and the contributions of workers. It is a time to pause and give thanks to God for our talents, our health, and our former, current, or future jobs.
It might be difficult for children to understand the significance of Labor Day, but the value of “work” is one that can be instilled at a very early age. Working, and not remaining idle, is important, and there are numerous references in scripture stressing this. For example in Genesis 2:15, we read, “
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
” Further, St. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, “t
o respect those who are laboring among you
.” And in Colossians 3:23, “
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters
.” Whether we work outside the home, are homemakers, students, or retired persons, we are asked to approach our tasks each day with joy and enthusiasm.
St. Therese of Lisieux, known as “The Little Flower,” is one of the most popular Saints in the history of the church. She was born in 1873, and entered the convent at the tender age of fifteen. She wanted to be a missionary, but her health precluded her from traveling. Instead, from within the confines of the convent, she sought holiness by doing ordinary, everyday tasks with great love, an approach that became known as “The Little Way.” She strove to communicate kindness and love in all things and did so as perfectly as possible until she died at the young age of twenty-four.
In 1994, my husband was stationed on Ie Shima, a small island off the coast of Okinawa, and I joined him with our three small children for the year. There is not much that I remember about that tour, but one particular gentleman has left a lasting imprint on my mind, and I recall him vividly these 25 years later. Mr. Tomashiro was a gate guard on the base for 37 years. Every day he had a smile on his face and an encouraging word as he greeted people going on and off the base. He was grateful for the work with which he had been blessed, and he carried out his task with great love.
Today, I especially thank the teachers and staff at St. Michael’s School for their commitment to Catholic education and their dedication to our children. They labor day in and day out, each in their own uniquely gifted ways, doing so with abiding love and devotion, ensuring that our students receive an education of excellence that is grounded in faith.