Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Francis: The Virtue of Work

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Isaiah 49:8–15;
Psalm 145:8–9, 13cd–14, 17–18;
John 5:17–30

“My Father is still working, and I also am working.” —John 5:17

Francis not only encouraged his brothers to work; he preferred that they be about manual labor—concrete, physical actions that could be clearly seen and rightly interpreted. His Rule of 1221 instructed:

The friars who have a trade should work at it, provided that it is no obstacle to their spiritual progress and can be practised without scandal. The Psalmist tells us, You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; happy shall you be, and favoured (127:2); and St. Paul adds, If any man will not work, neither let him eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Everyone should remain at the trade and in the position in which he was called. In payment they may accept anything they need, except money. If necessary, they can go for alms like the rest of the friars. They are allowed to have the tools which they need for their trade. All the friars must work hard doing good, as it has been said, “Always be doing something worthwhile; then the devil will always find you busy” and, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul.” And so those who serve God should be always busy praying or doing good.

More and more people work at occupations that make few physical demands. While there will always be jobs that involve manual labor, not everyone can enjoy the satisfaction that comes with seeing a concrete result from physical work. Often our hobbies reveal that we need to do things with our hands, we need to be active, we need to use our bodies as well as our minds. To what good work can you lend your hands today?


All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind
and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.

St. Francis of Assisi collection

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