Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Work of Human Hands: The Fathers and the Revaluing of Labor

By Mike Aquilina ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 08, 2023 | In Way of the Fathers (Podcast)

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Plato scorned manual labor. Aristotle believed that “no one who leads the life of a worker or laborer can practice virtue.” Plotinus, Celsus, and Herodotus agreed that work was ignoble and contemptible. Pagan religion reflected these precepts of the philosophers. In such a world, Christianity seemed revolutionary. The churches were full of laborers, who worshipped a Laborer—and whose Scriptures preserved NOT the syllogisms of philosophers, but the stories of people who got jobs done. Implicit in the writings of the Fathers is a radical and new idea: a theology of work.


Paul Veyne, A History of Private Life, Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium

Jose H. Gomez, All You Who Labor: Towards a Spirituality of Work for the 21st Century

Mike Aquilina, Work, Play, Love: How the Mass Changed the Life of the First Christians

Mike Aquilina, How Christianity Saved Civilization ...And Must Do So Again

Mike Aquilina’s website

Mike Aquilina’s books

Theme music: Gaudeamus (Introit for the Feast of All Saints), sung by Jeff Ostrowski. Courtesy of Corpus Christi Watershed

Mike Aquilina is a popular author working in the area of Church history, especially patristics. He is executive vice-president and trustee of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a contributing editor of Angelus (magazine) and general editor of the Reclaiming Catholic History Series from Ave Maria Press. See full bio.

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