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Reflections: Catholic Life Section (Work/Wages)

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Catholic Life Section:

Work / Wages

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Women's Work in the Home




Also See: Catholic Jobs / Want Ads (Topic Page)

"May it also be brought about that each and every able-bodied man may receive an equal opportunity for work in order to earn the daily bread for himself and his own. We deeply lament the lot of those - and their number in the United States is large indeed - who though robust, capable and willing, cannot have the work for which they are anxiously searching. May the wisdom of the governing powers, a far-seeing generosity on the part of the employers, together with the speedy re-establishment of more favorable conditions, effect the realization of these reasonable hopes to the advantage of all." (Pope Pius XII, "Sertum Laetitiae", 1939)

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"In determining the amount of the wage, the condition of a business and of the one carrying it on must also be taken into account; for it would be unjust to demand excessive wages which a business cannot stand without its ruin and consequent calamity to the workers. If, however, a business makes too little money, because of lack of energy or lack of initiative or because of indifference to technical and economic progress, that must not be regarded a just reason for reducing the compensation of the workers. But if the business in question is not making enough money to pay the workers an equitable wage because it is being crushed by unjust burdens or forced to sell its product at less than a just price, those who are thus the cause of the injury are guilty of grave wrong, for they deprive workers of their just wage and force them under the pinch of necessity to accept a wage less than fair." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931 A.D.)

"... wages must be paid to the workingman which are sufficient for the support of himself and of his family. It is right, indeed, that the rest of the family according to their ability contribute to the common support of all, as one can see in the families of rural people especially, and also in many families of artisans and minor shopkeepers; but it is wrong to abuse the tender years of children and the weakness of women. Especially in the home or in matters which pertain to the home, let mothers of families perform their work by attending to domestic cares. But the worst abuse, and one to be removed by every effort, is that of mothers being forced to engage in gainful occupation away from home, because of the meagerness of the father's salary, neglecting their own cares and special duties, and especially the training of their children. Every effort, then must be made that the fathers receive a sufficiently ample wage to meet the ordinary domestic needs adequately. But if in the present state of affairs this cannot always be carried out, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible, whereby every adult workingman may be made secure by such a salary. It will not be amiss here to bestow praise upon all those who in a very wise and useful plan have attempted various plans by which the wage of the laborer is adjusted to the burdens of the family, so that when burdens are increased, the wage is made greater; surely, if this should happen, enough would be done to meet extraordinary needs." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931 A.D.)

"If a workman's wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this. We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many of the people as possible to become owners. Many excellent results will follow from this; and, first of all, property will certainly become more equitably divided. For, the result of civil change and revolution has been to divide cities into two classes separated by a wide chasm. On the one side there is the party which holds power because it holds wealth; which has in its grasp the whole of labor and trade; which manipulates for its own benefit and its own purposes all the sources of supply, and which is not without influence even in the administration of the commonwealth. On the other side there is the needy and powerless multitude, sick and sore in spirit and ever ready for disturbance. If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another. A further consequence will result in the great abundance of the fruits of the earth. Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them; nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self-evident. And a third advantage would spring from this: men would cling to the country in which they were born, for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life. These three important benefits, however, can be reckoned on only provided that a man's means be not drained and exhausted by excessive taxation. The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has the right to control its use in the interests of the public good alone, but by no means to absorb it altogether. The State would therefore be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than is fair." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

Also See: Work | Private Property | Taxes | Communism | Socialism

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Also See: Catholic Men (Topic Page)

"To the man [God] said: 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.'" (Gen. 3:17-19)

"For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat." (2 Thes. 3:10)

"[M]an is born to labor as the bird to fly" (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931)

"Work should not be an obstacle to the family, but should rather sustain and unite it" (Pope Benedict XVI)

"Do your work, not in order to grow rich or to win the approval of men, but for God's sake." (St. John Vianney)

"The most holy law of nature is that the father of a family provide with training and livelihood all whom he has begotten" (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum novarum", 1891 A.D.)

"Never undertake any work or any action without first raising your mind to God and directing to him with a pure intention the action you are about to perform." (St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)

"I find many people who work for their body and few who work for their soul. For many work for the body - breaking rocks, tunneling into mountains, and working in many other occupations that are hard on the body. But who labors so energetically and eagerly for his soul?" (Br. Giles)

"State functionaries and all employees are obliged in conscience to perform their duties faithfully and unselfishly, imitating the brilliant example of distinguished men of the past and of our own day, who with unremitting labor sacrificed their all for the good of their country." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"[When the] Apostle...said: 'If any man will not work neither let him eat.'...[he] is passing judgment on those who are unwilling to work, although they can and ought to, and he admonishes us that we ought diligently to use our time and energies of body, and mind and not be a burden to others when we can provide for ourselves." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931)

"[I]t is the business of a well-constituted body politic to see to the provision of those material and external helps 'the use of which is necessary to virtuous action.' Now, for the provision of such commodities, the labor of the working class - the exercise of their skill, and the employment of their strength, in the cultivation of the land, and in the workshops of trade - is especially responsible and quite indispensable. Indeed, their cooperation is in this respect so important that it may be truly said that it is only by the labor of working men that States grow rich." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

"Now, just as it belongs to the woman to be subject to her husband in matters relating to the family life, so it belongs to the husband to provide the necessaries of that life. In this respect he was punished in three ways. First, by the barrenness of the earth, in the words (Genesis 3:17), 'Cursed is the earth in thy work.' Secondly, by the cares of his toil, without which he does not win the fruits of the earth; hence the words (Genesis 3:17), 'With labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.' Thirdly, by the obstacles encountered by the tillers of the soil, wherefore it is written (Genesis 3:18), 'Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") 

"[W]orking for gain is creditable, not shameful, to a man, since it enables him to earn an honorable livelihood; but to misuse men as though they were things in the pursuit of gain, or to value them solely for their physical powers - that is truly shameful and inhuman. Again justice demands that, in dealing with the working man, religion and the good of his soul must be kept in mind. Hence, the employer is bound to see that the worker has time for his religious duties; that he be not exposed to corrupting influences and dangerous occasions; and that he be not led away to neglect his home and family, or to squander his earnings. Furthermore, the employer must never tax his work people beyond their strength, or employ them in work unsuited to their sex and age. His great and principal duty is to give every one what is just." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

"If by a strike of workers or concerted interruption of work there should be imminent danger of disturbance to the public peace; or if circumstances were such as that among the working class the ties of family life were relaxed; if religion were found to suffer through the workers not having time and opportunity afforded them to practice its duties; if in workshops and factories there were danger to morals through the mixing of the sexes or from other harmful occasions of evil; or if employers laid burdens upon their workmen which were unjust, or degraded them with conditions repugnant to their dignity as human beings; finally, if health were endangered by excessive labor, or by work unsuited to sex or age - in such cases, there can be no question but that, within certain limits, it would be right to invoke the aid and authority of the law. The limits must be determined by the nature of the occasion which calls for the law's interference - the principle being that the law must not undertake more, nor proceed further, than is required for the remedy of the evil or the removal of the mischief." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

"Truly the mind shudders at the thought of the grave dangers to which the morals of workers (particularly younger workers) and the modesty of girls and women are exposed in modern factories; when we recall how often the present economic scheme, and particularly the shameful housing conditions, create obstacles to the family bond and normal family life; when we remember how many obstacles are put in the way of the proper observance of Sundays and Holy Days; and when we reflect upon the universal weakening of that truly Christian sense through which even rude and unlettered men were wont to value higher things, and upon its substitution by the single preoccupation of getting in any way whatsoever one's daily bread. And thus bodily labor, which Divine Providence decreed to be performed, even after original sin, for the good at once of man's body and soul, is being everywhere changed into an instrument of perversion; for dead matter comes forth from the factory ennobled, while men there are corrupted and degraded. No genuine cure can be furnished for this lamentable ruin of souls, which, so long as it continues, will frustrate all efforts to regenerate society, unless men return openly and sincerely to the teaching of the Gospel, to the precepts of Him Who alone has the words of everlasting life, words which will never pass away, even if Heaven and earth will pass away." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931)

"If we turn not to things external and material, the first thing of all to secure is to save unfortunate working people from the cruelty of men of greed, who use human beings as mere instruments for money-making. It is neither just nor human so to grind men down with excessive labor as to stupefy their minds and wear out their bodies. Man's powers, like his general nature, are limited, and beyond these limits he cannot go. His strength is developed and increased by use and exercise, but only on condition of due intermission and proper rest. Daily labor, therefore, should be so regulated as not to be protracted over longer hours than strength admits. How many and how long the intervals of rest should be must depend on the nature of the work, on circumstances of time and place, and on the health and strength of the workman. Those who work in mines and quarries, and extract coal, stone and metals from the bowels of the earth, should have shorter hours in proportion as their labor is more severe and trying to health. Then, again, the season of the year should be taken into account; for not infrequently a kind of labor is easy at one time which at another is intolerable or exceedingly difficult. Finally, work which is quite suitable for a strong man cannot rightly be required from a woman or a child. And, in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed. For, just as very rough weather destroys the buds of spring, so does too early an experience of life's hard toil blight the young promise of a child's faculties, and render any true education impossible. Women, again, are not suited for certain occupations; a woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family. As a general principle it may be laid down that a workman ought to have leisure and rest proportionate to the wear and tear of his strength, for waste of strength must be repaired by cessation from hard work." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

"We now approach a subject of great importance, and one in respect of which, if extremes are to be avoided, right notions are absolutely necessary. Wages, as we are told, are regulated by free consent, and therefore the employer, when he pays what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond. The only way, it is said, in which injustice might occur would be if the master refused to pay the whole of the wages, or if the workman should not complete the work undertaken; in such cases the public authority should intervene, to see that each obtains his due, but not under any other circumstances. To this kind of argument a fair-minded man will not easily or entirely assent; it is not complete, for there are important considerations which it leaves out of account altogether. To labor is to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life, and chief of all for self-preservation. 'In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.' Hence, a man's labor necessarily bears two notes or characters. First of all, it is personal, inasmuch as the force which acts is bound up with the personality and is the exclusive property of him who acts, and, further, was given to him for his advantage. Secondly, man's labor is necessary; for without the result of labor a man cannot live, and self-preservation is a law of nature, which it is wrong to disobey. Now, were we to consider labor merely in so far as it is personal, doubtless it would be within the workman's right to accept any rate of wages whatsoever; for in the same way as he is free to work or not, so is he free to accept a small wage or even none at all. But our conclusion must be very different if, together with the personal element in a man's work, we consider the fact that work is also necessary for him to live: these two aspects of his work are separable in thought, but not in reality. The preservation of life is the bounden duty of one and all, and to be wanting therein is a crime. It necessarily follows that each one has a natural right to procure what is required in order to live, and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work. Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891)

Also See: Wages | Gainful Occupations (Sponsored Section Reflections) | Private Property | Taxes | Unemployment | Women's Work in the Home | Work (Topical Scripture)

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Women's Work in the Home

Also See: Catholic Women (Topic Page)

Note: Scripture tells us that women's primary vocation is towards motherhood and her husband, whereas man is called to labor. Therefore, Reflections herein may be consider topics such as mothering, marital, homemaking, etc.

"To the woman [God] said: 'I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children [and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee.' (DR trans.)] 'To the man he said: 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.'" (Gen. 3:16-19) [Note: God's command to labor was issued to man, while the words spoken to women were directed at her motherhood.]

"Desire not a brood of worthless children, nor rejoice in wicked offspring. Many though they be, exult not in them if they have not the fear of the LORD. Count not on their length of life, have no hope in their future. For one can be better than a thousand; rather die childless than have godless children!" (Sirach 6:1-3)

"Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person. Like the sun rising in the LORD'S heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home." (Sirach 26:15-6)

"A worthy wife is the crown of her husband, but a disgraceful one is like rot in his bones." (Prov. 12:4)

"A wife is her husband's richest treasure, a helpmate, a steadying column. A vineyard with no hedge will be overrun; a man with no wife becomes a homeless wanderer." (Sirach 36:24-25)

"Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited." (St. Paul, Ti 2:3-5)

"Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. A woman must receive instruction silently and under complete control. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 2:9-15)

"[A] woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum") 

"We must not forget that the making of a home in which all feel at ease and happy, and the bringing up of children are very special contributions to the common welfare." (Pope Pius XII)

"Communism is particularly characterized by the rejection of any link that binds woman to the family and the home, and her emancipation is proclaimed as a basic principle. She is withdrawn from the family and the care of her children, to be thrust instead into public life and collective production under the same conditions as man. The care of home and children then devolves upon the collectivity. Finally, the right of education is denied to parents, for it is conceived as the exclusive prerogative of the community, in whose name and by whose mandate alone parents may exercise this right." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

"In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family. That the rest of the family should also contribute to the common support, according to the capacity of each, is certainly right, as can be observed especially in the families of farmers, but also in the families of many craftsmen and small shopkeepers. But to abuse the years of childhood and the limited strength of women is grossly wrong. Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father's low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage will be assured to every adult workingman." (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931 A.D.)

"The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. This equality of rights which is so much exaggerated and distorted, must indeed be recognized in those rights which belong to the dignity of the human soul and which are proper to the marriage contract and inseparably bound up with wedlock. In such things undoubtedly both parties enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations; in other things there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", Dec. 31, 1930 A.D.) 

"The children, especially the younger among them, need the care of their mother at home. This domestic role of hers must be safely preserved, though the legitimate social progress of women should not be underrated on that account." (Second Vatican Council)

Also See: Marriage, Family & Home [Pg.] | Mothers / Motherhood | Women / Womanhood | Parental Responsibility for Catholic Education | Parents' Right to Educate Their Children | Homeschooling | Education [Pg.] | Order of Things Established by God | Striving Against Nature | Primacy of Husband / Obedience of Wife | Feminists | Parents / Parenting | Children / Youth | Femininity & The Virgin Mary | Modesty/Proper Dress [Pg.] | Against Military Training of Girls | Fostering Vocations / Vocations in the Family | An Ideal Home | Wife (Topical Scripture) | Woman (Topical Scripture)

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