The Labor Day holiday weekend has always been a favorite of mine since it occurs after the dog days of August which have a way of de-energizing a person due to the heat and the humidity. September is a much more pleasant month from a weather perspective, and I’m told many wonderful people have been born in that month! Even though schools used to begin just after Labor Day, still getting back into the regular routine and meeting classmates again was great.
Labor Day was established some time ago as a means of labor unions emphasizing the importance of work and the justice issues that surround the rights of workers. Of course it was meant to offer a holiday not only for workers but also for their families in order to celebrate the meaning of the holiday through parades and picnics organized for this purpose. Labor unions in times past were a powerful force to insure workers of a safe environment, health and retirement benefits, a just and living wage, and the ability to join together as a force to negotiate with employers for the good of all. The Church has been in the forefront of underscoring the right of workers to organize, dating back to the time of the Industrial Revolution and the early 1900s.
In our day it seems that labor unions have lost some of their luster, especially in some states where they are actually discouraged or undercut. What matters most is that job production is heightened so that qualified candidates can find a decent job and that job security is assured. There certainly are some companies that have established a solid relationship between management and labor where a union is not necessary and where profit sharing and other benefits are put in place to the advantage of all parties. Employers and investors have a right to a reasonable profit as long as employees who do the work also receive a just return for their labor. Most importantly in an age when machines and robots have advanced to sometimes replace the human work force, we need to balance the good of workers with the development of new techniques for manufacturing a product.
In order for a society and an economy to prosper, it is necessary that all levels of the populace have jobs available to them in order to make a living. It is true that just because jobs are available does not mean that everyone will apply for them. Some people may be left out because of their particular circumstances, e.g., health problems, physical disabilities, etc., but unless individuals feel jobs are available, they will be led to despair and sink into debilitating behaviors. We must do more than merely talk about the need for jobs at all levels; those in government leadership and owners of companies must work diligently to create them.
It is not sufficient to hang out a sign stating that a company is hiring; the pay for the work provided must be just. I suppose the argument about what should be the amount of the minimum wage will go on for years to come, but we must become more realistic about it. A worker cannot be subject to all the ways that costs go up monthly and yearly and then be told that his/her own pay will not be increased year after year. How are these workers expected to pay their bills today and in the future if their pay remains at $8.25, the same it has been for a number of years? Thankfully some real progress of raising the minimum wage has happened recently.
A final consideration in this discussion is the fact that educational opportunity and experience is absolutely necessary in order for workers to be prepared for today’s jobs. The quality of our educational system is at the heart of individuals becoming prepared for a variety of possible employment positions. Teachers must be trained well in order to create classroom situations for learning, but parents also must encourage their children and supervise their attendance at school. Truancy must be addressed, but to do so requires that sufficient people are hired to make it work. If children, especially adolescents, are not properly supervised, they will not get a good education and will often get into troublesome behaviors. While not everyone will be able to graduate from a four-year college, I fully endorse the programs of our community colleges and of our schools that teach trades and all kinds of practical skills that we need in order for our lives to benefit and flourish. With proper attention and marketing, we can do better.
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“My child,” writes the author of Sirach, “conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.” Humility is a distinctly Jewish virtue and one that Jesus embraces as the foundation of his teaching on the kingdom of God. Jesus often uses the image of a banquet to offer a teaching about the kingdom. The poor of Palestine could only dream of a banquet. The overflowing abundance of food and wine was beyond their hope. With this image, Jesus promises the poor that they are the chosen guests at God’s banquet.
God has a preference for the lowly, and only those who acknowledge their lowly status in relation to God and to others will be embraced at the banquet of eternal life. Many places in the Scriptures show that Jesus lived the virtue of humility: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves” (Matthew 11:29). “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Humility defines Jesus’ life and teaching, and so it should define Christians’ lives, too. In relationship with God, humility defines us as dependent on God for everything; in relationship with others, humility defines us as servants to others.
St. Augustine indentified humility as the defining virtue of a Christian way of life. “This way consists first of humility, second of humility, and third of humility. No matter how often you would ask me, I would say the same” (Letter #118).
The reading from Hebrews juxtaposes the scene of Moses at Mount Sinai with that of Jesus at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. How could a follower of Christ not be humbled at this festal gathering? The need for humility cannot be overstated. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little” (#526).
In Hebrews, Paul tells followers how to live and then describes the kingdom, where we find Jesus, who has shed his blood so that we might share eternal life with him. The Catechism explains, “We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity” (#526).
“Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,” we hear from Sirach. No matter the degree of knowledge one holds, others should still be approached with humility and respect. The Second Vatican Council decree on the pastoral office of bishops, Christus Dominus, states, “Discussions on religious matters should be marked by clarity of expression as well as by humility and courtesy, so that truth may be combined with charity, and understanding with love” (#13).
For Your Reflection: How would (or has) approaching others with humility made a difference in your relationships? Why is living out humility an example of living authentically? How can providing for people who cannot return the favor be a humbling experience?
LABOR DAY SCHEDULE
Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2019, is a national holiday and one that many people consider a transition from summer into fall. It’s a time for people to gather and to enjoy each other’s company in a variety of settings. For many young people it is the beginning of a new school year. It is also a holiday here at St. Peter’s, and therefore we will have only one Mass on Monday, September 2. The church will open at 9:00 A.M., the Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 A.M., and then the church will close at 11:00. Please note this change of schedule as you make your holiday plans. We hope you will include Mass in those plans if at all possible.
WELCOME, FR. JOHNPAUL CAFIERO, O.F.M.
We are pleased to welcome Fr. Johnpaul Cafiero, O.F.M. to our Franciscan community and to ministry here at St. Peter’s. Fr. Johnpaul grew up in New Jersey and served as a police officer in his local community before joining the Franciscans. For most of his ordained ministry he has been involved in what we call “itinerant preaching,” which means he has been giving parish missions, days of recollection, retreats to religious communities, and directing pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Christian Shrines throughout the world. He assists on weekends at Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Illinois, and also serves as a chaplain for the Illinois State Police. Whenever he is free of all the above, he will serve on the staff at St. Peter’s celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, being a receptionist in the Front Office and being available on the mezzanine. Please introduce yourself when you see him in the near future.
WELCOME, COLLEGE STUDENTS
We look forward to seeing many college students—both those returning to school after the summer hiatus and those coming to Chicago colleges and universities for the first time. We want you to know that our doors are always open for you for Mass, for the sacrament of reconciliation, for consultation with a friar on the mezzanine, for time before the Blessed Sacrament on weekdays between 1:45-4:45, for a short visit for prayer, to visit our Book and Gift Shop, etc. No matter what campus you attend somewhere in the Loop, we are not far away. You might also want to check out our website about our Young Adults Group which meets each Monday in the auditorium from 5:30-7:00. We also encourage you to spread the word about St. Peter’s to your classmates and friends.
SAINT PETER’S MEN’S GROUP
You may not be aware that every Monday evening at 5:00 P.M. we have a meeting down in the auditorium called “Saint Peter’s Men’s Group.” You will find it listed every week in the bulletin in the Activities section. This group has been meeting for many years and has played a great part in the lives of many men who have been coming together for support and assistance as they grow and mature. The primary reason for the group’s existence is for men who are dealing with some aspect of sexual addiction: it could be pornography, masturbation, marital infidelity, visiting adult book stores, seeking massage for something other than relief of sore muscles, feeling sexual temptations to be too much to handle, etc.
At a meeting you will find you are not alone in what you are dealing with; others have been struggling with the same problems. You will also find individuals who can testify that there is hope because they are now free of their subjection to addiction. There will also be persons who are willing to be your sponsor, and you will find all this done in an atmosphere of confidentiality, spirituality and Christian love of neighbor. We invite anyone to try this Men’s Group who wants to get better. That’s Mondays at 5:00 P.M. in the St. Clare Auditorium. Spending this hour a week could very well save your life and save your marriage.
RETROUVAILLE—A LIFELINE FOR MARRIAGES
The word Retrouvaille (re-tro-vi with a long i) is a French word meaning rediscovery. This program helps couples heal and renew their marriages and offers tools needed to rediscover a loving marriage relationship. Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage? Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse? Are you constantly fighting? Have you thought about separation or divorce? Does talking about it only make it worse? Thousands of couples headed for cold, unloving relationships have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending this program. Some couples come during the initial signs of a marriage problem and others are in a state of despair. The Retrouvaille Program consists of a weekend experience combined with a series of 6 post-weekend sessions. The tools learned here will help put your marriage in order again. The main emphasis of the program is on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It will give you the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine your lives together in a new and positive way.
You can go to www.retrouvaille.org for general information about the program. The program really accomplishes what it sets out to do. A recent survey of 5,236 couples who made a weekend gave the following results: Over 76% are still married to the same spouse at the five-year anniversary of their attending a Retrouvaille weekend; over 95% are likely to recommend the Retrouvaille Program to a struggling couple; over 95% felt heard, respected, and cared for during the registration process; over 97% consider the Retrouvaille Program to be affordable, and over 96% consider the weekend experience as time well utilized.
Couples state that the top ranking benefits from participating in the Retrouvaille Program as 1) improved communication; 2) learned more about my spouse; 3) learned more about myself; 4) grew closer together as a couple; 5) improved conflict management and 6) improved relationship with faith. Don’t delay; do it today.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A man goes to a funeral and asks the widow, “Mind if I say a word?” She says, “Please do.” The man clears his throat and says, “Plethora.” The widow replies, “Thanks, that means a lot.”
Another man comes up and says, “Mind if I say a word too?” She says, “Please do.” The man clears his throat and says, “Bargain.” The widow replies, “Thanks, that means a great deal.”
Another man comes up and asks for the same privilege. The widow thanks him, saying that would be very nice. The man clears his throat and says, “Earth.” The widow replies, “Thank you, that means the world.”