Part 12 – Manual Labour is Holy


Catherine believed that work was a God-given way to become holy, basing her belief on Christ’s thirty years in Nazareth, where He spent 90% of His time on earth. As she once said, Christ spent “Thirty years in silence preparing for three of speech” which would eventuate in “three days of agony” that would change the world. Madonna House is a training center for the lay apostolate and for its visitors, where one learns how to connect ordinary life, work and chores to God, who is love:

“One of the truths of God that we have lost is that of work. Its theology, needless to say, utterly escapes us. Its beauty, comeliness, joy, fruitfulness, creativeness, its powers of healing, restoring, making whole again have become unknown quantities to us.

In our day and age, manual labour, what the world today calls “menial work,” is very much looked down upon by those who do not know Christ the carpenter, Mary the housewife, Mary the laundress and weaver, and Joseph who taught Jesus carpentry. Nor do such people know the endless rosary of saints, male and female, who delighted to be humble, lowly and menial workers. They understood that, because they did everything out of love, they were the nobility of heaven and the aristocracy of earth.


Worse than this lack of understanding of manual labour is the fact that we use the intelligence which God has given us to invent thousands of ways to avoid what little work we have to do. We excuse this heresy by saying that by this ‘inventiveness’ we give ourselves more time. Time for what? Time to waste on baubles. Time for temptations to become rooted in us, eventually to flower into sins.

All work is holy. Through it, we walk the royal road of Christ. Thus it was decreed from the beginning of time. There is no other way to God except through work.”