About fruit that will last …

Today is the feast of St Casimir (1461-1484), the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. When he was a teenager, St Casimir chose to disobey his father’s command that he lead an army into Hungary to depose the King. At fifteen years of age, Casimir made a commitment to peace over war. He chose to live a prayerful life dedicated to peace and care for the poor. A young leader, Casimir remained firm in faith through prayer, fasting and good works, until his death. He was just 23 when he died. 

Fr Joseph Cardijn formed the young leaders of the YCW as people of faith who would give witness to their relationship with Christ in the workplace. In his second lecture of the series, which we know as The Hour of the Working Class, Cardijn states: “Every one of these millions of workers has a divine mission to fulfil, a practical divine vocation on earth, which no one else can fulfil in his or her stead, because they are all human beings, enjoying God’s friendship on earth.” This has always been true from the time when Adam was a boy. Everyone works. Work is part of being human. 

When St Casimir walked away from being the leader of an army, he did so with the realisation that the work of war is not what God intends. His life is a good example of what Cardijn communicated to the leaders of the movement he helped to form, namely, that the practical divine vocation of earthly work is to help God complete creation. 

The Gospel reading for the Mass celebrated in memory of St Casimir is from John’s Gospel (15:9-17). Jesus gives his followers very clear instructions: “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” If I was going to use this as a scene in a play for young students to perform, I would have the youngest actor say, “Remind us again, Jesus. What are your commandments?” And perhaps that is what did happen in the time of the oral tradition, before the Gospel was written and shared with the known world. For Jesus does tell us what he commands us to do: “This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” 

I am certain that the “practical divine vocation on earth” is built on genuine friendship, which are those relationships that are inclusive, not exclusive. Such relationships are generative. They are “the fruit that will last.” This, then, is the change we should be seeking in our world and our actions should contribute to the fulfilment of God’s plan. 

And what might those actions look like, sound like, feel like? What can be done to improve the lives of others, both those whom we know and the millions of others who we do not know? Jesus tells us, as do also his followers, including St Casimir and (St) Joseph Cardijn, to pray and to fast (meaning, “forget self”) and do good works. And those good works include all those simple and not-so-simple things that bring people together in friendship. Not just old friends, but also new friends. Actions that welcome strangers so that the circle of friends grows and grows with lots of fruit for people to enjoy. 


A brief biography of St Casimir – Catholic Online: Saints and Angels

The Church and the worker – the second lecture in the 1948 Godinne lecture series, known as The Hour of the Working Class, delivered by Fr Joseph Cardijn. 


Pat Branson

We do not live on bread alone but … 

The work of transforming the world begins at home. Recent research conducted into Catholic school staff members’ perceptions of the mission of their school showed that the sense of mission began long before those interviewed began their work in the school. Their sense of mission was nurtured in their homes. Their wanting the best for their students reflected their parents wanting the best for them. For all of them, “the best” was connected in some way with God.

Elise Kinsella, an ABC journalist living in Melbourne, posted an article on air pollution, a silent killer in Australia. She chose as her starting point in the article the experience of one man living below the West Gate Freeway. Drawing on the findings of research in Australia and overseas, she paints a picture of a society in danger and provides some solutions that have been proposed by scientists and people engaged in industry and commerce.  

Kinsella’s article can be seen as an example of the need to engage the truth of experience. In a talk he gave in 1935, Fr Joseph Cardijn defined the truth of experience as “The terrible contradiction which exists between the real state of the young workers and this eternal and temporal destiny.” I would like to broaden the perspective to include the whole of society and every person’s terrible contradiction which exists between what they experience and their eternal and temporal destiny. Kinsella describes some insights into aspects of people’s temporal destiny and the reality of air pollution impacting ordinary people’s lives. Sadly, I could not detect an awareness of our eternal destiny. 

Cardijn reminded his listeners of the experience of life in Europe, which he described as “a wave of neo-paganism unexampled in history.” The danger of pursuing one’s temporal destiny is to lose sight of one’s eternal destiny. Cardijn’s perspective is incarnational: just as people’s temporal destiny is rooted in their immersion totally in life, so, too, is their eternal destiny. The transformation of people’s temporal existence will only be achieved when they come to accept and seek their eternal destiny in their everyday lives. As Cardijn said in his talk, “We must remain with our eyes fixed to heaven and our feet on the earth….” 

The mission Jesus accepted from his Father was to announce the presence of God in the world. To prepare himself for his mission, Jesus spent forty days fasting and praying. In the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent, Year A, we learn from Matthew (4:1-11) that Jesus was tempted by the devil to accept the temporal destiny described by the devil and to reject his eternal destiny. Jesus knew that his life received its meaning from the presence of God in his life. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” he said to the devil. 

The temporal destiny of every person, which I have interpreted to be the very best for each and every person, will come about when we attend to “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” But how can we do this? Perhaps Lent is timely, with its emphasis on fasting, prayer and almsgiving. One possible source for action might well be a personal examination of the habits that prevent us from listening to God. The truth that familiarity breeds contempt can apply equally to the eternal and the temporal dimensions of our lives. Starting at home, meaning beginning the process with what happens in our daily lives has proven to be helpful to so many saints. Why not us also? 


Pat Branson


Air pollution causes thousands of deaths in Australia each year. Residents and scientists are fighting back, by Elise Kinsella. ABC News, 25 February, 2023. 

The Three Truths – Joseph Cardijn. In the Joseph Cardijn Digital Library.

“Bear much fruit and … be my disciples.”

I was sitting on the train, waiting to leave the station on the journey home. I noticed an advertising panel on the other side of the carriage. The poster highlighted the service to people with disabilities who travelled on the trains. The image spoke to me of kindness, generosity and encouragement. And I remembered an incident on the train in the recent past, when a passenger alerted the train guards of a medical incident in the carriage. We hadn’t yet left the station. Three guards came and cleaned up the mess. They spent time with the man who had been sick. They accompanied him for the next two stations and were replaced by other guards. And the man who reported his medical incident stayed with him, too, until he had to leave the train. 

There are so many stories about Good Samaritans in our society and of groups and organisations committed to help the needy, so why do our governments pass laws to allow for abortion and euthanasia? Which narratives do they use and which values do they promote to shape our culture? What sort of mind does it take to seek to help the needy and then support people to deny the unborn the right to live and the terminally ill to end their lives at a time of their choosing?

The Christian ethic is pro-life and is founded on the belief that all people are created in God’s image. Fr Joseph Cardijn delivered the 1949 Godinne lecture series. In his third lecture, titled “The Mystery of Vocation,” he said: “We must bear witness to Christ, not by words only, not by some deeds only, but by the whole of our life. by our generosity and charity in all the acts of our life. As was said above, all the acts of our daily life are completely changed once they have become apostolic acts. We bear witness to Christ in all the actions of the day, witness to His charity and generosity, to His desire to save people.” Cardijn emphasises the totality of the Christian’s commitment to Christ. 

Today is the feast of St Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who lived in the eleventh century. A humble man, he shared what he had with the poor. He lived a life of penance and prayer. Like Cardijn, he believed that God gifts people with their vocation to live apostolic lives, bearing witness to the love of Christ for all people. In the Gospel reading for Mass in St Peter Damian’s memory, Jesus tells us, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:1-8). Those who seek to be in union with him will bear fruit. 

If Jesus’ image of the vine and branches was the dominant narrative of our culture, then our focus as a nation would be the good of all not only now but also in the future. Cardijn emphasises actions that are generous and charitable, that is, actions that reflect the love of God for all of creation. These are actions that unite rather than divide, such as the actions of that Good Samaritan on the train, who, like his model in Jesus’ parable, stayed with the sick man until it was time to move on. And St Peter Damian reminds us that such charitable deeds need to come from a life lived in God’s presence, that is, a life of prayer. As Jesus tells us, “It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples” (John 15:8).  


Pat Branson


The young person faces life – the 1949 Godinne lecture series delivered by Fr Joseph Cardijn 

Systemic, sustained and shameful: the exploitation of workers

He sat across from me at a table in the cafe and as I I listened, I recognised his concern for his friends from overseas, who had come to Australia to study and had to work excessively long hours to pay for the privilege of studying here. He was looking for funding to provide food for his friends so that they would not have to work so long each week. 

Is it possible that these young workers are being exploited? In March, 2022, the Senate Economic References Committee examining unlawful underpayment of employees, tabled a report into the unlawful underpayment of migrant workers in Australia. They described the problem as “systemic, sustained and shameful”. The report highlights weaknesses in the laws intended to protect workers from exploitation by employers. While the government fails to act, migrants (including asylum seekers and refugees) can become enslaved in our country. 

The problem has existed for as long as society has existed. Cardijn identified it as a product of liberalism. In 1949, he presented the Godinne series of lectures titled The Young Worker Faces Life. In the third lecture on the “mystery of vocation,” he made reference to the working class being in “the tomb of error, exploitation, and slavery in which liberalism buried it for centuries.” The release from that tomb is a struggle. 

This is not what God intends for people. The Exodus story reveals God’s plan for people to live freely and to ensure that the goods of the world are there for all people to use and for all generations to come. The attitude that we must bring to ensuring that all people are treated with dignity is revealed to us in the Gospel reading for Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1 (Mark 6:30-34). Mark shows us the compassion of Jesus, who places the needs of others, in this instance, the needs of his apostles and the needs of those who wanted to learn from him, before his own needs. 

All this suggests that we need to have a radical change of mind and heart. We are not put on this earth to acquire as much as we possible can. We have a responsibility to ourselves, to others and to God, to use only what we need and always with an eye on the needs of others who will come after us and the intention to provide for the future. So what action can we take and encourage others to join in doing to ensure the end of exploitation and slavery of workers in our country and in the world? 

I suggest the following as a course of action: Read the report prepared by the Senate Economic References Committee and use social media to encourage others to read it also. Then choose one aspect of the report and the recommendation(s) flowing from it as tabled in the report. Write to your local member to urge them to argue on your behalf for action to happen now, not later. There are probably other and better actions to be carried out to bring about the change that is needed in peoples’ minds and hearts. If you are certain of this, then consider writing a reflection to be posted to this page on the Joseph Cardijn Digital Library website. 


Laurie Berg and Bassina Farenblum: Australia is bringing migrant workers back – but exploitation is still rampant 

The Senate Economics References Committee – Unlawful underpayment of employees’ remuneration

The Young Worker Faces Life – Joseph Cardijn Digital Library

The Most Holy Name of Jesus and the human person


  1. What do we mean by dignity?
  2. Do we know how dignity is attained, preserved, defended, promoted, and universalised? 
  3. Do we experience dignity in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our civic/public spaces, or in cyberspace (online)?
  4. Does the promotion of dignity for some diminish it for others? 


  1. Today the Church celebrates The Most Holy Name of Jesus. Jesus’s birth, life and death are the antitheses of dignity.  He was born to a people – the Jews – that were under occupation and oppressed (by the Romans). He was born out of wedlock (Mary was engaged but not married to Joseph, when Jesus was conceived). He was the son of Joseph, the carpenter. His passion and death – from the scourging to the crucifixion on the cross – was beyond undignified. It was dehumanising. Yet, His Name is Most Holy. 
  1. This is also an important lesson that Cardijn asked us to remember – that we protect our dignity, and the dignity of others. 

“…The boys, the mass of boys and men, as well as girls and women, must learn, through missioners and apostles, to reflect on their dignity and their value. Girls and women, above all, demand that this dignity be respected far more than men, particularly by men.”

Adapted from “Person, family and education – Lecture 1 – The human person.”

  1. This year (2023), the world will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) emphatically states that human rights are rights we have simply because we exist as human beings. They are not granted by any state!  These rights are universal and inherent to everyone, irrespective of nationality, ethnic origin, gender, colour, religion, language, or any other marker. The UDHR includes the rights that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health and liberty. 


How do I protect my dignity, and how do I promote the dignity of others? 

New Year 2023 is a time for resolutions.

  1. I resolve to be more respectful of my loved ones, e.g. no snide remarks. 
  2. I resolve to be more respectful of my colleagues at my workplace, e.g. genuinely listen to those I may not like and consider their inputs honestly. 
  3. I resolve to be more respectful in my online interactions, e.g. understanding that because the person is not before me, there is a significant loss in communication (70% – 93% of communication is non-verbal).
  4. I should not be quick to judge. 
  5. Find ways to promote the knowledge of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Greg Lopez

About me!

I am a lecturer in management at a university in Perth, Western Australia. I learned about Cardijn first through the Young Christian Students (YCS) at school and then more deeply through my interactions with Stefan Gigacz. There is so much that Cardijn has to offer, hence my interest in seeing how Cardijn’s teachings can be helpful to me and anyone interested in making the world a better place (one step at a time).


Joseph Cardijn, Person, family and education – Lecture 1 – The human person (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)