Re: What is servile work?
I take notes on semons that I hear sometimes, here is a selection of my notes from a sermon on keeping holy the Sabbath: (I put quotes where I’m directly quoting him and double quotes where he’s quoting another person)
Keeping Holy the Sabbath –
1. Going to Mass
2. Not doing any unnecessary servile work.
“What is Servile Work?
The sort of work traditionally done be manual laborers. Includes: plowing, drilling, digging seed, gardening, lawn mowing, mechanicing, welding, loading, plastering, house painting, folding laundry, ironing, or sowing.”
Servile work subjective or objective?
“Moral Theologian Davis, “Servile work may not be done without necessity for pleasure or recreation. It remains servile, whatever the motive may be, even if no wager are taken for it.””
“St. Alphonsus, “The intention of the worker is not able to change one kind of work into another.””
“St. Alphonsus additionally points out that if one does more than 2 to 2.5 hours of unnecessary servile work on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation he is guilty of mortal sin.”
“Why does God forbid servile work on the Sabbath?
Simply so we may relax, read good spiritual books, and recuperate both body and soul that we may better serve Him and our neighbor.”
“What about Commerce?
Things like going to the grocery and the mall is forbidden.
However, on special occasions and not as a general rule, people may sell wares on Sunday because of special business opportunities.
For example; A vendor capitalizing on a certain fair, festival, rodeo, or opportunity not normally available.
Also going to a restaurant or a café is okay. As is buying gas.”
“What work is okay?
What used to be called “Liberal Works”.
Things like singing, reading, studying, writing, painting.
Also “Common Work” which all classes of men do.
This would include traveling and preparing meals.”
“Also necessary servile work, such as feeding livestock, changing a flat tire, and setting up the alter are permitted.
Necessary servile work is also permitted in police, firemen, medical personnel, taxis, gas stations, restaurants.
Also playing at attending sporting events or going hunting are both fine, as long as they are kept with the proper perspective of the Lords day and not seen as more important than the Lord or His Mass.”
End of Sermon Notes.
Oh, I don’t know who Moral Theologian Davis is, sorry. Hope this gives some direction, I’ve found Father’s words useful.
Originally the work done by serfs from which they were freed on Sundays and holy days in order to worship God. Until recently, servile work, forbidden on Sundays, was work that was chiefly physical. At present servile work is heavy manual labor, or such work as in a given society people commonly associate with strenuous effort and do not engage in when they have the freedom to avoid it. Implicit in the Church’s prohibition of servile work on Sundays is fidelity to the divine commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. This means avoiding activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body, i.e., needless work or business, unnecessary shopping or housekeeping.