All work and no pray…

st. joseph worker

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, who is depicted in this mosaic at Galway Cathedral in Ireland. (CNS photo/Crosiers)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has a special devotion to St. Joseph — as the earthly father of Jesus and as a worker.

To help celebrate this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, here are a few snippets of some of the many things the pope has said about the importance of work and dignified working conditions.


On work as dignity:

“Work means dignity, work means taking food home, work means loving!”

Meeting with workers and the unemployed in Cagliari, Sardinia,  Sept. 22, 2013

“Work is part of God’s loving plan, we are called to cultivate and care for all the goods of creation and in this way share in the work of creation! …It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s nation.”

General Audience in St. Peter’s Square,  May 1, 2013

On the problem of  ‘an economy of exclusion:’

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel #53, Nov. 24, 2013


Pope Francis wearing a hard hat during an audience with pilgrims from Terni Diocese in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall March 20, 2014. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

On the problem of unemployment: 

“It is the consequence of an economic system which is no longer capable of creating work, because it has placed an idol at the center that is called money!

Therefore, the various political, social and economic entities are called to promote a different approach based on justice and solidarity. This word now risks being removed from the dictionary. Solidarity: it seems like a dirty word! No! Solidarity is important, but this system is not very fond of it, it prefers to exclude it.

Such human solidarity should ensure that everyone have the possibility to carry out a dignified form of work. Work is a good for everyone and it needs to be available for everyone. …Solidarity requires that all members of society renounce something and adopt a more sober lifestyle to help all those who are in need.”

Audience with Italian steelworkers at the Vatican,  March 20, 2014


On the need for ‘enlightened’ politicians:

“I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans?

I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.”

Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel #205, Nov. 24, 2013

wall street

Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in 2008. (CNS photo/Lucas Jackson, Reuters)

On the need for a new global approach:

“I am convinced that from such an openness to the transcendent a new political and business mentality can take shape, one capable of guiding all economic and financial activity within the horizon of an ethical approach which is truly humane.

The international business community can count on many men and women of great personal honesty and integrity, whose work is inspired and guided by high ideals of fairness, generosity and concern for the authentic development of the human family.”

Message to World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2014

On the need for action:

Pope Francis asked the factory owners to be creative and generous in finding ways “to reignite hope in the hearts of these brothers of ours and in the hearts of everyone who is unemployed because of waste and the economic crisis.”

“Please,” the pope said to business owners, “open your eyes and don’t just stand there with your arms crossed.”

General Audience address, April 23, 2014

On the pope’s experience:

“I am very familiar with this situation because of my experience in Argentina. I myself was spared it but my family wasn’t. My father went to Argentina as a young man full of illusions ‘of making it in America.’ And he suffered in the dreadful recession of the 1930s. They lost everything! There was no work! And in my childhood I heard talk of this period at home. …I never saw it, I had not yet been born, but I heard about this suffering at home, I heard talk of it. I know it well.”

Meeting with workers, unemployed in Cagliari, Sardinia,  Sept. 22, 2013

The pope’s work experience as a young man includes: sweeping floors in a factory; running tests in a chemical laboratory; working as a bouncer; and teaching high school literature and psychology.


Pope Francis meeting workers from aluminum company Alcoa during his general audience April 2, 2014. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

On hope grounded in the Gospel:

“…Revive the roots of faith and your fidelity to Jesus Christ. Here is the guiding principle of the choices made by a Christian: his faith. Faith moves mountains!

…Dear brothers and sisters, never stop hoping for a better future. Fight for it, fight. Do not be trapped in the vortex of pessimism, please! If each one does his or her part, if everyone always places the human person — not money — with his dignity at the center, if an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing inspired by the Gospel is strengthened, you will be able to leave behind the morass of a hard and difficult economic season of work.”

Audience with Italian steelworkers at the Vatican, March 20, 2014

rosary catch

Pope Francis holds a rosary he caught in the crowd as he arrives for his weekly general audience at the Vatican June 5, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


While work is key, always take time out to pray:

“To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, feel his constant presence in our lives and we must stop and converse with him, give him space in prayer. Each of us, even you boys and girls, young people, so many of you here this morning, should ask yourselves: ‘how much space do I give to the Lord? Do I stop to talk with him?’ …Let us remember the Lord more in our daily life!”

General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker,  May 1, 2013

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One Response to All work and no pray…

  1. saintpio1 says:

    I think praying should have been first in this line up. I get so many pleas for MONEY but no one asks for prayers. That’s the most important thing we can do is ask God to take over and solve our problems that the devil gives us.

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