Happy Labor Day Weekend! I hope you and your family have a relaxing and safe Holiday Weekend.
This year, as every year, the Catholic Bishops of our country have issued a Labor Day Statement. It is pretty good, and can be found on the US Bishops’ website at this incredibly long address: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2015.cfm It is a labor just to type it in!
Because of the synods on the family, and Pope Francis calling much attention to the family, this year’s labor statement reflects on labor as it affects families. The Bishops state: “This Labor Day, we have a tremendous opportunity to reflect on how dignified work with a living wage is critical to helping our families and our greater society thrive.”
I can affirm that statement from my own pastoral experience. All too often I have seen families stressed and even torn apart by the loss of a job, by chronic underemployment, by the necessity of working several jobs, by inadequate income and lack of medical insurance. These–and divorce–are the things that really affect families. The Bishops address this directly:
“Is there any question that families in America are struggling today? Too many marriages bear the crushing weight of unpredictable schedules from multiple jobs, which make impossible adequate time for nurturing children, faith, and community. Wage stagnation has increased pressures on families, as the costs of food, housing, transportation, and education continue to pile up. Couples intentionally delay marriage, as unemployment and substandard work make a vision of stable family life difficult to see.
Is there any question that too many children feel the tragic pangs of hunger and poverty commonplace in a society that seems willing to accept these things as routine, the cost of doing business? Millions of children live in or near poverty in this country. Many of them are latch key kids, returning to empty homes every day as their working parents struggle to make ends meet.”
Clearly working conditions, income level, health insurance and many other aspects of work and labor have major impacts on families. We as Catholics are called to be pro-family. That means more than just opposing divorce or same sex marriage, it means working concretely to better the conditions of working families so that they have the resources and the dignity to be families worthy of the name.
For this Labor Day Weekend, I encourage you to take a few minutes, find the US Catholic Bishops Labor Day Statement, and spend a few minutes reading and reflecting on it. It is only two pages long. You could hardly find a better way to spend a small part of Labor Day.