Pope Francis has warned the faithful against being slaves to work and has exhorted them to celebrate and spend time with God. He made this exhortation this morning, at his second General Audience since the summer break. Francis began a new series of catecheses, reflecting on three facets of family life: celebration, work and prayer. 

In the story of Creation, the 78-year-old Pontiff recalled, we see that celebrations are the invention of God who rested from his labors on the seventh day. 

“It is God himself who teaches us the importance of dedicating time to contemplating and enjoying the fruits of our labors, not only in our employment or profession, but through every action by which we as men and women cooperate in God’s creative work, even in times of difficulty,” he said. 

“I speak of work, of course, not only in the sense of the job or profession, but in a more broad sense of every action with which we men and women can collaborate in the creative action of God.”

Even at the workplace too, for birthdays, a new baby, a marriage, the Holy Father underscored, we celebrate. When we take a break from our work for these important occasions it reminds us we are made in the image and likeness of God, “who is not a slave to work, but the Lord of work!” 

“And so we must never be slaves to work but rather its master!” he said.

Francis lamented how millions of people around the world, even children, are slaves to work and how human life is often put at risk for abuses of “economic profit” and “technical efficiency.”

"In this time, there are slaves, they are exploited, slaves of work and this is against God and against the dignity of the human person!" the Pope said.

The Pontiff also highlighted the sacredness of prayer and quiet moments with God. During our moments of rest on a Sunday, we find God. The Eucharist brings all of Jesus’ graces to our celebrations, Francis noted, such as His presence, love and sacrifice. In this way, in this way of being with us, the Lord forms us into a community, he said.

“Everything is transfigured by his grace: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even our sufferings and death,” the Pontiff said. The Argentine Pontiff prayed, “May we always recognize the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.”   

"The family is equipped with an extraordinary competence for understanding, addressing, and sustaining the authentic value of the time of the celebration," Pope Francis underscored, before adding off the cuff: “And how beautiful are these celebrations in the family. They are beautiful!"