A ‘no-vacation nation’

Summer is traditionally the time to take some time off, get away from the day-to-day work life and re-energize.

But do we?

Writing on the Archdiocese of Washington’s blog, Msgr. Charles Pope addresses the issue of vacations for American workers — more likely the lack thereof in comparison to the rest of the world — and offers a reflection on God’s call to rest, as expressed in Scripture.

The starting point for the pastor of Washington’s Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish was a recent CNN.com entry that asks the question “Why is America the ‘no-vacation nation’?

The article contrasts the work ethic of Americans, who take far less vacation time on average than their peers in some of the world’s leading economies, with the belief widely held throughout Europe that family life and the time to rest is as important as hard work.

What does God have to say about rest? Msgr. Pope cites several passages from the Old Testament in which God calls for six days of work and rest on the seventh. He writes:

Does it sound like the Lord is repeating himself? He is. But sometimes (most times) we’re slow to hear. He has written sleep into our physical nature and rest into our work week. The Lord also prescribed a series of feasts or holy days (holiday is just a mispronunciation of holy day), and here the people were to cease, pray and celebrate.

We Americans are miserable at this. We are hard workers, and that is good, but what good is it to work hard and never be able to enjoy the fruit of our work? Do we work to live, or live to work? Of all the commandments, you’d think we’d get this one right. God commands and prescribes a certain amount of rest and yet we seem to prefer the status of bond servants. How strange.

This coming Monday is Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer. Msgr. Pope’s commentary perhaps is the refreshing summer breeze we need.

4 Responses

  1. Appearantly Msgr. Pope failed to consider that
    the economy plays a large part in the average
    citizen not being able to take vacations.
    I know of priests and religious who take trips
    and vacations AT WILL. “Join the RELIGIOUS
    AND SEE THE WORLD!” Most of us do not
    depend on others to be in a position to do so.
    “Fruits of our work” are needed for meds, repairs, and to assist others.
    With the exception of a few required
    (marriages & funerals)…in forty-six years of marriage @ 66 years of age, we have taken perhaps six “vacations” generally within less than
    a thousand mile radius, to family events.
    We find that we are not in the minority. I do not
    envy the blessings of others, I simply want a
    a priest, with no family obligations and the time
    and finances to vacation where and when he wishes, not to make make blanket judgments
    “we seem to prefer the status of bond servants.”
    Just another indication that the Church is
    “OUT OF TOUCH!”

  2. My initial reaction to the article was mixed.
    I know the commandment
    “Remember, keep holy the Lord’s day”
    However, I do not recall The Lord “prescribing”
    a series of feasts or holy days.
    I may be mistaken, but I believe the Church “prescribed” the additional holiday/
    holy days and how they were to be spent.
    The article was written by a priest with no family obligations and the time and finances
    to vacation where and when he wishes.
    As for “enjoying the fruits of our work”
    Those are required in raising children,
    and, in later life, for meds, necessary repairs,
    and assisting others. I do not envy the blessings
    of others. However all are not blessed the same.

    further, I strongly objected to his statement,
    “we seem to prefer the status of bond servants”
    Of course I am not a “bondservant”! I thought.
    However, After additional prayer and consideration I have concluded that I am, in fact, a “bondservant” and prefer to be
    Becoming like Christ is at the Core of being a bondservant and a Christian. being a doer of the word not a hearer/preacher only.
    Peter identified himself and his station as
    bondservant and apostle.

    The following qualities are very important
    to being a bondservant.
    above all, LOVE
    godliness
    respect for all men
    self-control
    perseverance
    To name a few.
    Suggesting we are “bondservants”, by the author
    seemed a negative. Thru grace, we can turn it into a positive. We should wear the title “BONDSERVANT” with honor.

  3. Well maybe this is not just a call to the individual or individual family to make vacation happen, but maybe to society and in particular to our workplaces to respect rest and to respect the needs of the whole person. Maybe if given a chance for a different kind of vacation – whatever that means for a particular person or family – we might discover new graces in rest and recreation.

  4. Why do Americans work so hard? In part it is because we have the highest murder rate of any industrial nation. We work hard so we can live and raise our families in safe neighborhoods, which are the more expensive neighborhoods.

    Why do Americans have the highest murder rates, some of the worst primary, and secondary schools, and all these other problems which we attempt to escape by living in expensive neighborhoods?

    A larger portion of our population goes to church than almost any other industrial country with more than a million population. Why does such a religiously faithful country have such a bad record?

    Well one thing you can say for America, we do go to church more, we seem to find more time for God than the other countries even if we do work more.

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