Edward Zablocki, SFO
Co-Chair, Work Commision

Let them esteem work as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption and service of the human community (Art. 16)

I thought it would be wise to learn more about the sources behind Article 16 in the Rule concerning work as means to deepen my own formation. I'd like to share with you what I found because I believe it has value for your own formation. Using the From Gospel to Life copy of the Rule with commentary I noticed that there was a footnote following article 16: "Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a." The footnote references three citations. Two of the citations are from early Franciscan sources and one is from the Second Vatican Council.

The first part of Article 16 concerned with esteeming work as a gift or grace has its roots in the early Franciscan sources. The two early citations are from St. Francis' 1221 and 1223 rules for the Friars Minor. Chapter 5 in the Rule of 1223 is entitled "The Manner of Working":

The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate. As wages for their labor they may accept anything necessary for their temporal needs, for themselves or their brethren, except money in any form. And the should accept it humbly as is expected of those who serve God and strive after the highest poverty.
I think you'll appreciate how the third citation, from The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, is the source of the final section of Article 16 where work is described as a "sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community"

Human work, whether exercised independently or in subordination to another, proceeds from the human person, who as it were impresses his seal on the things of nature and reduces them to his will. By his work a man ordinarily provides for himself and his family, associates with others as his brothers, and renders them service; he can exercise genuine charity and be a partner in the work of bringing divine creation to perfection. Moreover, we believe by faith that through the homage of work offered to God, man is associated with the redemptive workof Jesus Christ, whose labor with his hands at Nazareth greatly ennobled the dignity of work. This is the source of every man's duty to work as well as his right to work; moreover, it is the duty of society to see to it that, according to the prevailing circumstances, all citizens have the opportunity of finding employment. Finally, remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified, livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level to correspond to the role and the productivity of each, the relevant economic factors in his employment, and the common good. (67:2)

Dialogue Starters

  1. I have to admit that I don't think of my work as having such great impact so as to influence the creation and redemption of the human community. Do you? Reflect on your experience of the creative, redemptive and service aspects of your work (paid or not).
  2. In your own words, how would you describe St. Francis approach to work. Does it correspond to your own?