VNO 26: For the Sanctification of Human Labor

Workers need prayers. Somehow, I don’t think the big-time colored Masses with bishops and white collar pros use these prayers and readings. But maybe I’m wrong.

Looking at music first, just to mix things up:

Entrance Antiphon Genesis 1:1, 27, 31

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, God created man in his image; God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

Or: Cf. Psalm 90:17

May your favor, O Lord, be upon us, and may you give success to the work of our hands.

Psalm 104:23 has merit too: “People go out to their work, to their labor till evening falls.” Or Psalm 128:2: “What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper.”

Overall, I think Psalm 90 is a good text for verses with either of these antiphons.

Communion Antiphon Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Some of you readers are familiar with thanksgiving as a psalm genre. Several of these might blend well, as they recount a time of struggle (perhaps even hard labor) that leads to a period of gratitude and contentment. It’s good to look ahead. Psalms 34, 65, 118, or 139 contain rich material that might help develop this antiphon a bit more.

The readings are good, the choices two for each locus:

  • Genesis 1:26-2:3 or 2:4b-9, 15 from the Creation narratives.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1b-2, 9-12 or 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, 16 where Saint Paul urges his people to work quietly with love and not idleness.
  • Matthew 6:31-34 (seeking the Reign of God) or 25:14-30 (the parable of the talents).

The Lectionary Psalms are the 90th (a perspective on time) and the 127th (building the house).

When might this Mass be celebrated? Many of the Church’s rituals give more than a nod to more agricultural activities. Laboring on farms is hard work. But in factories we find no few persons who truly earn by physical means. Likewise many people in service jobs: nurses, waiters, musicians, trainers and fitness consultants, etc.. Maybe a cathedral could consider offering more than Masses in red, white, or blue. What color would you assign to laborers?

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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