A Good Day’s Work

St Francis of Assisi, Dream of Innocent III by Giotto di Bondone

St. Francis of Assisi and his followers believed in putting in a good day’s work. Here is how St. Francis would have the brethren conduct themselves throughout each day: “Be patient in tribulation, watchful in prayer, strenuous in labours, modest in speech, grave in manners, and grateful for benefits, because for all these things God has prepared for you an eternal kingdom.” And he warns: “That man sins who wishes to receive more from others than he is himself willing to give to the Lord his God.”

St Clare, Basilica di Santa Chiara

St. Clare of Assisi remarked: “Remember that the time of labour and suffering is short, and that, on the contrary, the reward which awaits us is eternal.”

Francis’ close friend Blessed Egidius of Assisi wisely observed: “The slothful man loses both this world and the next; he gathers fruit neither for the one nor the other. It is impossible to acquire virtue without care and labour.”

St Rose of Viterbo by Alonso del Arco

St. Rose of Viterbo elaborated upon the usefulness of labor when she said: “Labour has its sufferings; but it procures for us many advantages. Not only does it preserve us from idleness, that source of so many vices; but it is transformed into prayer by the offering we make of it to God, it enriches us with merit, and is a means of satisfying for our sins.”

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.”

Following St. Francis’ advice, 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).

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