St. Francis of Assisi never shied away from manual labor. Here he gives some reasons why:
“Idleness is the hotbed of evil thoughts; we must, then, give ourselves earnestly to some serious occupation.”
“We ought to blush at allowing ourselves to be carried away by idle and silly distractions when, in time of prayer, we are in converse with a great King.”
“Woe to him who places his delight in vain and idle words, and thus makes men contract the habit of senseless laughter!”
“Consider and see how the day of death approaches. With all respect, I beg of you not to forget God amid the many distracting occupations in which your life is spent, and do not wander from the way of His Commandments.”
“Fine clothes, beautiful houses, fastidiousness in food and drink, idleness and sleep— these are the things which weaken the soul and encourage sensuality.”
Following from this advice from St. Francis, St. Leonard of Port Maurice gives this admonition: “Shun idleness, remember that time flies and returns no more, that you have but one soul, and if you lose it you lose all.”
Quotations from Flowers from the Garden of Saint Francis for Every Day of the Year (London: Burns and Oates, 1882).