What We Can Learn About Work from Mother Teresa on This Labor Day

Mother Teresa saint of labor

A Missionary of Charity Sister venerates St. Teresa of Calcutta’s relic at SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.  Photo by Jennifer Lindberg (c)


As America celebrates Labor Day – a tribute to the accomplishments of American workers – the Catholic Church celebrates Mother Teresa’s feast day–one of the best known saints of the 20th century.

Mother Teresa knew a secret about work: it becomes peaceful when we do it with humility and love.

“Works of love are works of peace,” said Mother Teresa. 

It’s the one quote chosen out of countless speeches, interviews, and books written about the saint that the Missionaries of Charity proclaim on their official website.

While we might not all love our jobs, even finding deep frustration or unfulfilled dreams with our work this saint of the gutter  understands our struggles.

Her sisters continue her work, highlighting its dignity in the mission field and beyond. Even though their order was founded by a saint, they rarely mention it. Instead, they focus on continuing their mission Mother Teresa started.

“For those all who knew and loved her… she continues to be “Mother,” the sisters said on their website.

From this ‘mother,’ we learn that we can love the work of our hands regardless of hardships.  Mother Teresa knew the stresses of work that require sacrifice, love and basic business principles any mission must accomplish. 

A saint to emulate on Labor Day

Like many, she suffered silently in her work, but kept going as if nothing was wrong. The world didn’t know the depth of her pain until the publication of the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.

This revealing portrait shows a woman suffering from terrible doubts and feelings of spiritual dryness, and loneliness as she selflessly ministered to the poorest of the poor, her sisters, and the world. 

Her struggles are startling. 

“I am told God lives in me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she said in her letters.  

How to follow Mother Teresa’s example for our work

Mother Teresa’s widespread appeal can inspire us in our own work this Labor Day with three traits the saint used everyday:

  • She took direct action instead of only talking about it.
  • She found out what was needed and did it
  • She was faithful regardless of the outcomes

Mother Teresa started every morning with prayer for the day’s tasks.  

Let us pray Mother Teresa’s prayer this Labor Day for our work to bring peace to ourselves and others: 

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me,  but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen.

Find other inspiring prayers read 3 Powerful Prayers to the Precious Blood.