Profiles in Catholicism
 
Musings on the Origin of Labor Day and It's Significance for Puerto Rico Today
 
by Carmen Julia Rodriguez



 

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At Labor Day in the United States, we honor the memory of the workers who at the end of the XIX century faced brutal violence when defending their right to be treated with dignity by their employers and to be fairly compensated for their labor  They lived in a time very similar to ours: a time of wars, rapid cycles of bubbles and busts in the financial markets, and emerging technologies disrupting the workplace. They would have echoed the chant heard at the marches in Puerto Rico of “¡Lucha, sí; Entrega, no!”  (Fight, yes; Surrender, no!) Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it and this lesson seems to be a hard one to learn since we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again… We read in Genesis 3:17, “You will eat… by means of painful labor all the days of your life…” when God reprimands Adam and Eve for their disobedience. Yet we read, as well: “The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1Timothy 5:17)

The only way to reconcile both passages is by following the call to Social Justice. Easier said than done for our Heavenly Father speaks with a soft voice. (1 Samuel 3)  “Samuel! Samuel! Samuel! The boy thinking his mentor was calling went to him and asked ‘Did you call?’ The old man half-asleep replied, ‘Go back to sleep, Samuel.’ Samuel! Samuel! The boy went to his mentor. This time, the old man relying on his life’s experience, said ’Next time you hear the calling, answer: Here I am Lord, how may I serve you?’ Samuel! Fully awake, the boy answered, Here I am Lord, how may I serve you?”
 

With no maps, each and every one of us must answer the call and figure out our purpose. Pearls, nonetheless, oftentimes come in rough packages. Take for example the Puerto Rican reguetonero René Pérez Joglar. The man who once called the Governor of Puerto Rico a S.O.B., said these words in one of his performances (“La Vida – Respira el Momento” - Life – Breath in the Moment, 2014))

 “Puedes sumar con prisa. Puedes restar con calma.
Da igual. Las matemáticas no tienen alma.
Puedes calcularlo todo y ponerle nombre propio.
Nuestro espíritu no se puede ver en los microscopios.”

(Go ahead, add in a hurry or leisurely subtract.
Same result; the soul is not in the math.
We may calculate all particles and give a proper name to each thing.
Our spirit, however, the microscopes cannot see.)

 No one can accuse René, el Residente de la Calle Trece, of being anything but uncompromisingly passionate about his life journey. A man dear to the Heavenly Father’s heart – just look at the Community of Saints – regardless of whatever that man may believe. So… I will leave you with the words from another of his performances (“La Perla” - The Pearl, 2011) a collaboration with one of his mentors, El Ministro, Ruben Blades.

 “El hombre bueno no le teme a la oscuridad… Que yo tengo de to’ no me falta na’…
La noche me sirve de sábana…”

(The righteous man fears not the dark… For I have all I need. Nothing else shall I want.
For a shroud, I have the night sky…) 

Buen Camino!  Good Journey!