Memorial of St Joseph the Worker – 1 May
“May Day” has long been dedicated as a special day for labour and working people. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was established by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to Christianise labour and give all workers a model and a protector.
By the daily labour in his shop, St. Joseph provided for the necessities of his holy spouse and of the Incarnate Son of God and thus became a role model for labourers. The liturgy for this feast celebrates the right to work and this is a message that needs to be heard and heeded in our modern society. How did this connection with St Joseph the Worker, which is nearly as old as Christianity, get made?
In an effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasised that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in the satisfaction and the drudgery of that vocation.
Humanity is like God, not only in thinking and loving but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ. In addition to this, there is a special dignity and value to the work of caring for the family.
An excerpt from the Vatican II document on the modern world said, “Where men and women, in the course of gaining a livelihood for themselves and their families, offer appropriate service to society, they can be confident that their personal efforts promote the work of the Creator, confer benefits on their fellowmen, and help to realise God’s plan in history.”
St Pope Pius X (1835-1914) composed this prayer to St Joseph, patron of working people, that expresses concisely the Christian attitude toward labour. It summarises also for us the lessons of the Holy Family’s work at Nazareth.
Let us Pray:
Glorious St Joseph,
model of all who devote their lives to labour,
obtain for me the grace to work,
in the spirit of penance, in order thereby,
to atone for my many sins;
to work conscientiously,
setting devotion to duty in preference to my own whims;
to work with thankfulness and joy,
deeming it an honour to employ
and to develop, by my labour,
the gifts I have received from God;
to work with order, peace, moderation and patience,
without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties;
to work above all with a pure intention
and with detachment from self,
having always before my eyes,
the hour of death and the accounting
which I must then render of time ill spent,
of talents wasted, of good omitted
and of vain complacency in success,
which is so fatal to the work of God.
All for Jesus, all through Mary,
all in imitation of you, O Patriarch Joseph!
This shall be my motto in life and in death,
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