Since 1894 the first Monday in September has been observed as a federal holiday to honor workers in the USA. The first Monday in September is also observed as Labour Day in Canada. Originally established to honor the nation’s working people this holiday has come to be seen as the end of the summer season.
The past few years have seen many people struggling to keep or find adequate paying jobs for their families. The economic struggles of many people throughout the world continues to make life difficult for individuals, families and nations. As Jesus notes in Luke 10:7, as he sends the seventy-two disciples out to prepare the way for him, “…for the laborer deserves his payment.”
The Catholic Church has a long history of speaking out for the rights of workers. Papal encyclicals such as Pope Leo XII’s Rerum Novarum helped establish rights and better treatment for workers everywhere. Recent Popes such as John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have continued to call for the dignity of workers throughout the world. You can find various statements from the Popes, Bishops and other Catholic commentators on the Vatican web site, www.vatican.va, US Catholic Bishops Conference www.usccb.org and various other Catholic web sites.
This weekend as you enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend, I encourage you to also take time to seriously study the various proposals, ideas and reflections of not only those who are politicians, but also what we as Catholics believe about the dignity of work. Enjoy this holiday but also remember why we celebrate Labor Day! As we celebrate the “end of the summer season” let also take time to say thanks and pray for all workers who struggle each day to care for their families. May we keep in our prayers all those who have faced the danger of the coronavirus as they provide medical care for those who are sick. Remember our First Responders as they daily face the dangerous situations of accidents, crime, fires and many other situations that would cause most of us to run away but they bravely face to keep us safe.
Remember every teacher and student, as they begin the difficult challenges of a new school year, unlike any they have had to face before. Though the challenges of study this year, in many places by remote learning through computers, will be hard may they work diligently to be well prepared to be good and faithful citizens and just stewards of the blessings God has given to each of us.
I encourage you and your family to begin Labor Day by joining us for our special Labor Day Mass, on Monday, September 7 at 10:00am in church. Let us gather to give thanks to God for the blessings we have received. As with other Masses at this time of the coronavirus please call the Church Office at 314-372-5111 Monday - Friday between 9:00am and 6:00pm to reserve a place at this special Mass. Everyone entering the building must wear a face mask and practice social distancing. Please enter the church through the handicapped doors to attend Mass.
Unfortunately for far too many people in our city and throughout our great country this holiday weekend brings the sad reality that in the past year they have lost a relative, friend or neighbor to the coronavirus or violence. We know that disease and illness is part of the human condition. Medical science has made tremendous advances over the years in halting and even eliminating diseases that ages ago plagued the human race. And in our time as we face the unknown of the coronavirus scientists, doctors and research people are working non-stop to find a way to halt the progress of this virus.
Medical people, health departments and scientists all remind us that while we do not have a cure or vaccine yet for the coronavirus there are simple steps we can take to help stop the spread of this disease. Washing our hands frequently, keeping social distance (+6feet from one another) and wearing a mask while in public and around others are all helpful in keeping ourselves and others safe and healthy.
Though this coronavirus has brought drastic changes in our daily lives and fear of the unknown we are also facing an increase in violence and disrespect of one another in our world today. TV news, radio reports, newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, etc. daily report shootings, looting, and violence against others. The tension in our daily lives grows each day. Will we be beat up or shot because we happened to look at someone that they take as threatening? Do we dread driving the Eisenhower, Dan Ryan or our city streets because of the reckless behavior of far too many drivers these days? Even sitting on our front porch, enjoying a relaxing time in a city park, going for a walk far too often ends up not an opportunity to relax, but an often unspoken fear of whether I or a loved one of mine might be the victim of random violence or a target that was meant for someone else. The tragedies I heard of when I lived in St. Louis of children, teens or young adults becoming the victims of violence were sadly not a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, that same tragic news is also heard too often here in Chicago and in other cities large and small throughout our country.
I believe that we cannot repeat speaking of this tragedy enough........That this dreadful news should motivate all people of good will and especially those of us who call ourselves Christians and people who Respect Life to say..... this must stop!
I encourage you to write or call our mayor and your alderman and let them know of your concern. Ask them what they will do to help stop this cycle of violence and also ask them what YOU can do to help. I encourage you, your family, your friends, your relatives and neighbors to write or call our state politicians and our national politicians and express our concern that action must be taken to protect the young and everyone else from this senseless violence that has become a plague upon our city, county, state and country. You will find address and names of our politicians on the internet.
As we celebrate this national holiday of Labor Day let us acknowledge the dedication of our working men and women to helping keep our country moving forward. In these difficult times of virus restrictions, increasing violence and the difficulties faced by working families these days, let us keep one another in prayer, keep our eyes on what must always be our focus..... faith and belief in Jesus Christ who is the Savior and resolve to do whatever we can to help end this scourge of violence in our city and nation.