honor of St. Joseph, patron saint of workers, Pope Benedict XVI
yesterday praised the holiness of work, recalling its biblical mandate
and manifestation in Jesus himself, but warned that mankind must not
become enslaved by it.
On Sunday, the
Pope presided at a Mass in the Vatican Basilica on the eve of the feast
of St. Joseph--the Holy Father’s own namesake.
A number of
important prelates concelebrated with the Pope, including Cardinal
Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome; Bishop Giuseppe
Betori, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference; and
Bishop Arrigo Miglio, president of the Italian episcopal commission for
social and labor problems, for justice and peace.
homily, the Holy Father cited scripture, which suggests that, "work is
part of the original condition of man," and forms part of "the divine
that "The Son of God Himself, becoming like us in all respects,
dedicated many years to manual labor, so much so that he became known
as the 'carpenter's son'.” Therefore he said, "The Church has always
shown, and especially over the last century, particular attention and
solicitude to this aspect of society…”
This, he said,
is “evinced by the many social initiatives of the Magisterium and the
activity of many Christian-inspired associations, some of which are
here today to represent the entire world of work."
The Pope said
that "work is of primary importance for the fulfillment of mankind and
the development of society,” adding that “for this reason it must
always be organized and carried out in full respect of human dignity
and at the service of the common good.”
“At the same
time”, he said, “it is indispensable that men and women do not let
themselves be enslaved by work, that they do not idolize it, expecting
to find therein the final and definitive meaning of life." Here, he
stressed that "biblical teaching on work finds its coronation in the
commandment to rest."
"Work”, the Holy
Father went on, “must serve the true good of humanity…To this end,
technical and professional qualifications, necessary though they may
be, are not enough. Nor is it enough to create a just social order
attentive to the good of all.”
Rather, he said,
“It is necessary to live a form of spirituality that helps believers to
sanctify themselves through their own work, imitating St. Joseph who
every day had to provide for the needs of the Holy Family with his own
hands, and who for this reason is identified by the Church as the
patron saint of workers.”
“His witness shows how mankind is both the subject and protagonist of work."
concluded his homily by entrusting "those young people who find it
difficult to enter the world of work, the unemployed, and all those who
suffer due to the widespread labor crisis,” to Joseph.
his wife Mary,” the Pope prayed, “may St. Joseph watch over all workers
and ensure serenity and peace for families and for all humanity.
Looking to this great saint, may Christians in all working environments
learn to bear witness to the love of Christ, source of true solidarity
and of lasting peace."
CNA learned last
week that the Holy Father may currently be working on what will be his
first social encyclical. According to sources, it will discuss the
value of work for mankind.