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This four-part series begins with a reflection on what work is, and continues--in the second issue--with looking at the link between work and vocation, whether this be marriage or religious life. The third issue will speak to the idea of good work and true rest, while the fourth and last addresses the question of work and justice.

All You Who Labor: The Vocation to Work

Work is so common that it is easy not to think about it...other than how to get around it, be treated justly for it, be better remunerated for it, or remunerated at all, in the event of unemployment. Indeed, unemployment has a great deal of our attention now. Pope Francis made everyone's head turn when he made the startling claim that one of "the most serious evils that afflict the world these days is unemployment." Was this mere hyperbole? What about the dissolution of the family? The attacks on human life? The loss of the sense of God? And yet, one detects that the problem of unemployment touches on something essential to the human person, obliging us to ask a more fundamental question: What exactly is work?

A Labor of Love: Work and the States of Life

When we consider the question of work, we have to consider the context in which our humanity flourishes: the family, the religious community, the monastery. Each of these contexts are grounded in an irrevocable bond of love open to mutual fruitfulness, a state of life. They are quite literally the illustration of the common good. In each state of life, therefore, the question of work takes on its rightful meaning, its place in the great scheme of things.

Good Work, Fruitful Rest

We are well aware of the degrading characteristic of much of today’s work among the new class of “knowledge workers,” alienated as they are from their bodies and their own products (and customers). We are also well aware of how much our “rest” has become passive, lonely entertainment. In this issue, we ask if the questions of work and rest don’t stand and fall together. If rest were real rest, what would that do for work? And how would good work open us up to more fruitful rest?

A Laborer Is Worthy of His Wages: Work and Justice

With this last issue on work we come to the question of justice in all that concerns work: the one doing the work—the worker, what is done or made—the worker’s labor, and the one on the receiving end—the consumer. In sum, we offer an issue on the just order in the workplace.

Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science
Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
620 Michigan Ave. N.E. (McGivney Hall)
Washington, DC 20064