by Father Mark Goldasich
“Father, say a prayer for us when you have time. My wife and I are both unemployed now. Things are a little tight, but we’ll get by.”
I heard these words after a Sunday Mass last weekend. While most of us are enjoying a leisurely holiday on Labor Day, my heart goes out to those who would love to have a job to return to after Labor Day.
Work: What does it mean? Let the following story give you some food for thought:
A man and a teenager checked into a hotel. The two receptionists noticed the quiet manner of these guests, and the boy’s pale appearance.
When the man and boy ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, the staff noticed that the two guests were very quiet and that the boy seemed disinterested in his meal. After eating, the boy went immediately to his room and the man approached the reception desk, where he asked to see the manager. The receptionist politely asked if there was a problem and offered to fix things. After reassuring her that all was fine, the man repeated his request to see the manager.
When the manager appeared, the man asked to speak with him privately. Once settled into the manager’s office, the man explained that he was there in the hotel with his 14-year-old son, who was seriously ill, possibly terminally so. The boy was to undergo chemotherapy very soon, which would cause him to lose his hair. They’d come to the hotel for a little break together. In fact, the boy planned to shave his head that night, rather than lose his hair due to the chemotherapy and feel that the illness was beating him. The father was going to shave his own head, too, in solidarity. The father simply asked that the staff be respectful when the two of them came to breakfast with their heads shaved.
The manager reassured the father that the staff would behave appropriately.
The following morning, the father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast. There they saw the four male restaurant staff, attending to their duties quite normally, all with shaved heads.
I don’t know about you, but I’d hire those four guys from the restaurant in a heartbeat. They “get” what work can potentially be: not only a way to earn a living, but an opportunity to make the lives of those around you better. Those in the service professions can experience this directly, but so can others who don’t usually work one-on-one with customers; it just takes a little more imagination on their part. For example, if you’re on an auto assembly line, picturing the family that will be riding one day in the SUV you’re building can give meaning to why you make sure all the parts you work on are assembled correctly and safely.
But back to my parishioners who are out of work. On Labor Day — and maybe all through September — make a special effort to remember the unemployed. First and foremost, pray. To get you started, you might want to use this one that I adapted from the website: www.catholicemploymentnetwork. org.
“Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you wanted all who are weary to come to you for support. Lord, many are worn out by their inability to find work. Guide their steps to a righteous path. Give them the patience to find opportunities with a future. Calm their worries and fears as their financial responsibilities mount. Strengthen their resolve; embolden their hearts to open doors. Open their eyes to see life beyond rejections. Help them to believe in themselves. Guard them against bitterness and discouragement, so they may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings. Amen.”
And, by the way, if you hear of an opening at your place of employment, let your parish know. Perhaps that information can be posted in the bulletin or on the parish website.
It just might be the answer to someone’s prayer.