Workers, working families and their friends joined Archbishop José Gomez, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar at the annual Labor Day Mass, celebrated Sept. 5, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.Amidst trying economic times and high unemployment, this year’s Labor Day for many was less a time for celebration and more a time for reflection and action on the economic hardships experienced by workers and their families across the country, as noted in the U.S. bishops’ annual Labor Day message. “In the midst of continuing economic turmoil, we are called to renew our commitment to the God-given task of defending human life and dignity, celebrating work, and defending workers with both hope and conviction,” said Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire, who chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.Bishop Blaire noted that about 14 million workers are unemployed, and that “many more have given up looking for employment.” Additionally, he said, there are increasing numbers of children (more than 15 million) and families living in poverty, while gaps in wealth and income are growing between the relatively affluent few and the many who are struggling.“Economic tensions are further dividing and polarizing our nation and our public life with attacks on unions, immigrants, and other vulnerable groups,” he said. “Economic weakness and turmoil increase fear, uncertainty and insecurity for retirees, families and businesses.”All these challenges have economic and financial dimensions, Bishop Blaire said, but they also have unavoidable human and moral costs. “This Labor Day,” he said, “we need to look beyond the economic indicators, stock market gyrations, and political conflicts and focus on the often invisible burdens of ordinary workers and their families, many of whom are hurting, discouraged, and left behind by this economy.“We must remember that at the heart of everything we do as believers must be love, for it is love which honors the dignity of work as participation in the act of God’s creation, and it is love which values the dignity of the worker, not just for the work he or she does, but above all for the person he or she is. This call of love is also a work of faith and an expression of hope.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0909/labormass/{/gallery}