We celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1!
Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. --St. John Paul II, Laborem Excerns
Beginning in the book of Genesis, the dignity of work has been celebrated as a participation in the work of God. St. Joseph, the carpenter and foster father serves as one profound example of the holiness of human labor. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was established in 1955 by Pope Pius XII to foster devotion to St. Joseph and provide a response to the "May Day" celebrations for workers that sponsored by the Communists. The feast continued to establish St. Joseph as a notable patron for workers in the Catholic tradition.
Through his profession as a carpenter, St. Joseph illustrates the dignity of human work. Joseph loved his work and found great contentment within it. For Joseph, work was not used to satisfy his ego or his greed, but as an instrument to support his family. As is true of many fathers, Joseph raised Jesus to follow in his own profession as a craftsman; in the Gospels, Jesus is called “the son of the carpenter”.
As so many of us find ourselves weary with work, let us look to the example of St. Joseph and ask him for courage and guidance as we navigate our work and offer to God.
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my motto in life and in death. Amen.