Relief for hurricane victims; God’s work and human work; new seminarians

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

Relief for Hurricane Victims Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi who are suffering so greatly in these days from natural disaster.The people of Florida have also been affected and, as the storm moves northward, people of other states will suffer. Many lives have been lost and the goods upon which life and livelihood depend have been destroyed.Many of our brothers and sisters are stranded without a place to rest, without food and water, without medicine and without the other necessities of life.All of the people of the devastated region look for a sign of God’s merciful love in the midst of their most intense suffering.Let all of our prayers in these days include the many intentions of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I ask every member of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to make some sacrifice from your means to assist the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.Each parish of the archdiocese will take up a collection for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.Please make your contribution as soon as possible, so that our help may reach the desperate people of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi as soon as possible.If you wish to make your contribution to the archdiocese directly, please forward it to me, marked clearly: Relief for Hurricane Victims. Our collection will be sent to Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, Va., which, from long experience and professional preparation, will make certain that our contributions accomplish the greatest possible good for the suffering people.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked that a collection be taken throughout the nation for hurricane relief.Our effort will be a significant part of the work of all Catholics in the United States to come to the aid of those most in need. The faithful of the archdiocese have responded generously to the needs of the wider Church.I count upon you to show the same generous compassion now toward our brothers and sisters in the greatest need of relief.I thank you, in advance, for your response to our collection.May God bless you. God’s work and human work This coming weekend, our nation observes Labor Day.It is a time to be with family and friends, and to celebrate our work.It also marks the end of the summer vacation and the beginning of the work of study for our children and young people. The celebration of work may seem a bit strange to our ears.The popular image of work is somewhat negative, an activity undertaken out of duty or necessity, which we would not otherwise do.I remember a somewhat silly weekly television program in the 㥄s, the name of which escapes me, in which the main character, a young man, always said the word "work" in the most unpleasant tone. If we reflect a bit, however, we realize that work is not only a major part of our daily activity and is sometimes burdensome, but it also is one of principal means by which we express ourselves and give ourselves to others in service.The celebration of Labor Day is, after all, not the exaltation of drudgery in our lives but the recognition of the importance of our work in our personal lives and for the life of the world. Stewards of creation If we wish to have a proper understanding of the importance of our work, we are greatly helped by the two biblical accounts of the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-24).In both accounts, we see God at work, bringing the world into being and sustaining it.In both accounts, the summit of God’s work is the creation of man — male and female — whom He makes in His own image and likeness, in order than man may be His co-worker in the care of world.We are the image and likeness of God in our work, also. In the second account of the Creation, we read: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15).In both accounts, it is clear that man — male and female — is created to be a co-worker with God in the stewardship of the goods of Creation. It is also clear that work is inherent to the dignity of man made in God’s own image and likeness. In the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," we read: "Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.Hence work is a duty: ‘If any one will not work, let him not eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10).Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him" (no. 2427). We know that our Lord God counts upon us to work, in order that the goods of creation may be shared by all in equity.No matter what our work may be, it provides some service to others and to the world.When our work — no matter how humble it may be in the eyes of others — is carried out well, it makes us better persons and renders our world healthier and more secure for all. When any part of the work of the world — be it also the most humble of services — is not done with care and devotion, all suffer.When each worker gives his best with devotion to neighbor, all are the beneficiaries. Sadly, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were not content to be the stewards of Creation but, tempted by Satan, pretended to take the place of the Creator.They rebelled against the order which God had placed among His creatures in bringing the world into being and sustaining it.They disobeyed God and introduced disorder into the world. With the sin of Adam and Eve, man’s heart became disordered and he no longer saw work as an expression of his likeness to God but as drudgery, a punishment imposed upon him by God because of his sin.The Lord God knew the effect of sin upon man’s work.In expelling Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, He declared: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). The disorder which entered man’s heart through sin led him into rebellion, so that he no longer received work as stewardship of God’s gifts, carried out in obedience to God’s plan for us and our world.At the same time, too, man no longer treasured work as a way to serve others but rather resented the hardship of work, for the sacrifice which it demanded. Work and the Holy Eucharist Our Lord Jesus Christ has restored man to his original dignity, cleansing us of the stain of original sin and bringing us to life in the Holy Spirit.Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we overcome the effects of original sin and are inspired to undertake our work in union with Christ who was pleased to be called the son of a carpenter, who labored tirelessly throughout His public ministry and who accomplished the great work of our salvation by dying on the cross for us and rising from the dead.The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" tells us: "By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in His redemptive work.He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ" (no. 2427). In the Holy Eucharist, Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary is ever new for us.Through the Holy Eucharist, we unite the sacrifices of our work to the Sacrifice of Christ, making our work an expression of our love of God and of neighbor. Through our participation in the Holy Eucharist, we come to understand how work is an essential and irreplaceable expression of our inviolable human dignity.United with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we recognize that work is not a burden imposed upon us but, rather, a gift from God for our own good and the good of others. We read in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church": "In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature.The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary.Work is for man, not man for work" (no. 2428). The Holy Eucharist inspires in us a proper understanding of work in our own lives and in the lives of our neighbor. As it inspires every work of justice and gives us the spiritual strength to be just, so, too, the Holy Eucharist leads us to reflect on justice in the place of work and to be strong in putting it into practice. Justice in the place of work As the Word of God in the Book of Genesis teaches us, work is God’s gift to us, so that we may have the goods we need for ourselves and an abundance for the needs of others.Therefore, the worker "should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2428).The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" summarizes the many aspects of the just treatment of the worker (cf. nn. 2429-2436). Central to justice in the workplace is the just wage which is the fruit of any work.Throughout the Holy Scriptures, we hear the condemnation of the man who takes the fruits of another’s labor and does not compensate him justly.The fruit of our labor provides for our the necessities of our livelihood, physical and spiritual (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2434). Because the compensation of labor involves various parties and interests, disagreements about what is just may arise.In order that such conflicts be resolved justly, it is important that there be the means for all parties to speak with another and to reconcile differences.The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" teaches us: "Efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts by negotiation that respects the rights and duties of each social partner: those responsible for business enterprises, representatives of wage-earners (for example, trade unions), and public authorities when appropriate" (no. 2430). It is essential to the work of justice that employers and the work force maintain a steady level of communication to insure that the work of the world be done to the best of our ability and with the full respect for the dignity of each worker. On Labor Day, we recall with gratitude the service of labor unions in working for the communication necessary to establish a just wage and to maintain just working conditions.We pray for the leaders of our labor unions that they will always be inspired by what is for the greatest good of all. We also recall with gratitude the service of other bodies which dedicate themselves to justice in the work place.I am especially pleased to express publicly my gratitude to the Parish Teacher Committee which serves the whole archdiocese in providing a just wage and just working conditions for the teachers in our Catholic elementary schools. Rest to honor work May your celebration of Labor Day be restful.If possible, plan to take part in Holy Mass, in order to pray in thanksgiving for your work and in petition for the needs of workers throughout the world. May Labor Day provide the occasion to reflect, with gratitude to God, for whatever work has been entrusted into your care.May it also provide the occasion to spend time with family and others whom you serve through your work. New seminarians On a personal note, Labor Day brings back happy memories of the minor seminary I attended, Holy Cross Seminary in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.Since all of the seminarians boarded, Labor Day, a day when most parents from throughout a sprawling rural diocese were free from work to bring their sons to the seminary, was always the first day of the new academic year. It was always an exciting time, full of joy to be together with other young men sharing the same spiritual inspiration and full of hope for what would be accomplished during the new academic year. On Aug. 30, I had the great happiness to clothe in the cassock and surplice our new seminarians for the archdiocese.It was a joyous celebration for all of our seminarians who number 20 in the college seminary, and 26 in pre-theology and the theologate.We have two more college seminarians who have received the Basselin Scholarship and are undertaking their studies at The Catholic University of America.We also have one seminarian doing his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and receiving his seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College. I was deeply edified by the piety of the new seminarians who are so grateful to hear God’s call in their lives and who have devoted themselves to knowing and doing His will by entering the seminary and engaging themselves fully in the program of priestly formation.Through the outstanding work of Father Michael T. Butler, director of the Office of Vocations, I have already been able to get to know many of the new seminarians and have great hope for their perseverance.I know that they will give their all to becoming good shepherds for you and your families. I am deeply proud of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and of our seminarians.You should be proud, also.Often, I say that the seminary is the heart of the archdiocese.By that I mean that it is the place in which the future shepherds of God’s flock in the archdiocese are giving themselves to the preparation necessary to be the good and faithful shepherds upon which the whole Church in the archdiocese depends. Please take any occasion possible to get to know Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and our seminarians.The seminary, for its part, will always welcome you and will make every appropriate effort to have our seminarians visit your parish. Please keep the intentions of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and our seminarians in your daily prayers.May God bless our seminary and all of our seminarians.

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