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But the Church exerted herself not only in rescuing Christians from captivity in Pagan lands, she also labored to ransom Pagan captives in Christian realms, and restored them to their native country. When seven thousand Persians were held in durance by a Roman general, Acacius, Bishop of Amida, sold all the rich plate of his church and sent these captives redeemed to their country, saying that God had no need of plates and dishes.
Few men have rendered more signal service in behalf of captives than St. John of Matha in the twelfth century. On the morning that he celebrated his first Mass, he made a vow at the altar to consecrate his life to the redemption of the slaves who were held captive in Morocco and other parts of Africa. To render his labors more effectual and permanent he formed a congregation of men animated by his own spirit, who made a solemn vow to consecrate their life and liberty to the redemption of slaves. They made frequent incursions into Africa, and purchased the liberty of hundreds of their brethren. If it is a virtue to give to others out of the abundance of our own means, if it is a greater virtue to give away all that we possess, what shall we say of him who devotes his life and liberty to the redemption of his fellow-beings? “Greater love than this no man
“ hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.":2
1 Ibid. 2 John XV., 13.
THE DIGNITY, RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE
The Redeemer of mankind has never conferred greater temporal blessing on the human race than by ennobling and sanctifying labor, and by rescuing it from the stigma of degradation that had been branded upon it. He is ushered into the world not environed by the splendor of imperial majesty, nor attended by the force of mighty legions. He comes rather as the reputed child of an artisan, and the days of His boyhood and early manhood are spent in a mechanic's shop; “Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary?”1
The primeval curse attached to labor has been obliterated by the toilsome life of Jesus Christ. He has shed a halo around the workshop, and has lightened the mechanic's tools by assuming the trade of an artisan. If the profession of a general, a jurist, a statesman and a prelate is adorned by the example of a Washington, a Taney, a Burke and a Carroll, how much more is the calling of a workman ennobled by the example of Christ!
1 Mark VI.
I cannot conceive any thought better calculated to ease the yoke and to lighten the burden of the Christian toiler than the reflection that the highest type of manhood had voluntarily devoted Himself to manual labor.
Labor is honorable on other grounds. It contributes to the prosperity of the country, and whatever conduces to a nation's welfare, is most worthy of commendation. It is not the office or occupation that dignifies the man, but it is the man that digni
, fies the office.
“Honor and shame from no condition rise;
Cincinnatus lent dignity to agriculture by working at the plow! Caligula, by an infamous life, degraded his crown and imperial purple.
De Tocqueville could not pay a juster and more beautiful tribute of praise to the genius of our country than when he wrote in 1835 that every honest occupation in the United States was honorable. The honest, industrious man is honored among us, whether he work with his hands or with his brains, because he is an indispensable factor in the nation's progress. He is the bee in the social hive; he is the benefactor of his race, because he is always producing something for the common weal.
God bless the noble working men
*Pope's Essay on Man.
Who dig the mines and build the ships,
As an evidence of the esteem in which the thrifty son of toil is held among us, we see from daily observation that the humblest avocations of life are no bar whatever to the highest preferment in the Commonwealth, when talent and ability are allied to patient industry. Franklin was a printer; President Lincoln's youthful days were spent in wield-. ing the axe and in handling the plow on his father's farm. President Johnson in his boyhood was apprenticed to a tailor. Grant was the son of a tanner, and Garfield once drove a canal boat. These examples are given not to excite a morbid and feverish ambition in the heart of the laborer or the artisan, but to illustrate the truth that no stain is affixed to the lowliest pursuits of life.
In honoring and upholding labor, the nation is strengthening its own hands as well as paying a tribute to worth. For a contented and happy working class are the best safeguard of the Republic, while ill-paid and discontented laborers, like the starving and enslaved populace of Rome in the time of Augustus Cæsar, would be a constant mer ace and reproach to the country.
Labor has its sacred rights as well as its dignity. Paramount among the rights of the laboring classes, is their privilege to organize, or to form themselves into societies for their mutual protection and benefit.
It is in accordance with natural right that those who have one common interest, should unite together for its promotion. Our modern labor associations are the legitimate successors of the ancient guilds of England.
In our days there is a universal tendency towards organization in every department of trade and business. In union there is strength in the physical, moral and social world; and just as the power and majesty of our Republic are derived from the political union of the several States, so do men clearly perceive that the healthy combination of human forces in the economic world, can accomplish results which could not be effected by any individual efforts. Throughout the United States and Great Britain there is to-day a continuous network of syndicates and trusts, of companies and partnerships, so that every operation from the construction of a leviathan steamship to the manufacture of a needle is controlled by a corporation.
When corporations thus combine, it is quite natural that mechanics and laborers should follow their example. It would be as unjust to deny to workingmen the right to band together because of the abuses incident to such combinations, as to withhold the same right from capitalists because they sometimes unwarrantably seek to crush or absorb weaker rivals.
Another potent reason for encouraging labor unions suggests itself to my mind. Secret societies lurking in dark places and plotting the overthrow