1 May: St. Joseph the Worker

From Father Z’s Blog :

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, on Sunday 1 May we celebrate the Feast of St Joseph, Opifex or Worker.  We don’t ignore the 5th Sunday after Easter, of course (6th Sunday of Easter in the Novus Ordo): prayers from the Sunday formulary are added after those for Joseph.

Joseph the Worker is a modern feast.  Celebration of his principle feast on 19 March goes back to at least the 10th century.  In 1870, Bl Pius IX declared Joseph to be the Patron of the Universal Church and gave him a feast on the Wednesday of the 2nd week of Easter.  In 1955, however, Ven Pius XII abolished that feast and instituted St Joseph The Worker on 1 May.  This was a response to Communist celebrations of “May Day”, which in part commemorated a bombing, riot, and massacre in Chicago in 1886 called the Haymarket Affair, the consequences of which are, according to some, still felt today around the globe.

St Pope John Paul II wrote about work in his 1981 Encyclical Laborem exercens and about Joseph in his 1989 Apostolic Letter Redemptoris custos.  Of work, he wrote that it is an essential part of human nature, an activity that gives us dignity, while toil is a consequence of sin.  Of Joseph, he wrote,

“Human work, and especially manual labour, receive special prominence in the Gospel. Along with the humanity of the Son of God, work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has also been redeemed in a special way. At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption.”

Joseph didn’t perform miracles that we know of. He didn’t go forth and preach boldly or offer himself in bloody martyrdom, as some did.  Instead, in his quiet way, Joseph is as a model for how we should work.  That is, he worked with God and for God.  He worked with God in that he worked with Jesus and for Jesus as carpenter and bread-winner and then as a teacher of carpentry to His Son.  Joseph worked with love.

He was blessed to see the Man God with his physical eyes.  That is, he literally had God before his eyes as He worked.

We don’t have the Lord physically before our eyes as we work, but by Faith we can keep him before our inner eyes, the eyes of our hearts, as we work, even in the most menial of tasks.

As a good Jewish man and father he would have prayed many times a day and taught the Lord His prayers as worked.  Praying as we work is something we should do as well.

Take Joseph as your model, both you men and women, and also teach your children to do the same.  When you work or do chores, however unpleasant you might think they are, remember to do them for God and with love for Him.  Begin your day along with your other prayers by saying “Lord, all that I do today, I do for love of you and for your glory.”  You can say that all during the day.

Never forget, in all your works, to think of God and perform them for love of him.  As we are in the state of grace, those works which are done for God and for the love of him will be rewarded in eternity.  The smallest act will be rewarded before the throne of the divine Judge if it is done with love.

Many saints were very humble and worked hard in small jobs for their whole lives, they were not great nobles or flashy public people.  They were farmers like St. Isidore, soldiers, manual laborers, craftsmen, servants.  How did they save their souls and become saints?  Through the good intention with which they worked, which rendered the small tasks they performed meritorious before God.

Again, the most insignificant actions, such as walking, washing, and working, can win for us the joys of heaven. Do all that you do for God and He will crown your works as His own.

The Latin Church approves 6 litanies for official, public prayer, including one for St Joseph.  Look it up and pray it. Ask your priests to lead you.

And today, especially, beg the help of Joseph for the unemployed.

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11 Responses to 1 May: St. Joseph the Worker

  1. Robert says:

    Actually the most neglected Saint in the Calendar. He was of the direct lineage of King David. He was the Head of the Holy Family and the Fathers of the Church considered His Presanctification (as with St John Baptist) and Assumption. Its inconceivable that Our Lord and Our Lady are in Heaven Body and Soul and not St Joseph.
    Its one of my least favourite titles because of the association in the title worker with Communism.


  2. toadspittle says:

    “Its one of my least favourite titles because of the association in the title worker with Communism.”
    Yes, all workers are Communists.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m just wondering if the pit-saw, aka whip-saw, existed in Jesus’ time? Certainly not with the uniform manufactured teeth (as opposed to handmade ones) shown in the stained glass window above.

    I pray Pope St. Pius’s X prayer to St Joseph the Worker every morning.


  4. toadspittle says:

    Not to mention an axe left lying on the ground – next to barefoot people.

    [this comment has been moderated]


  5. Robert says:

    Carpenter? Better to say Engineer. Carpentry 2000 years ago for instance produced all the vehicles of transport and especially ships. Ships always travelled with a Carpenter so that running repairs could be made.
    This Shipwright aspect of carpentry has been glossed over but would explain the Glastonbury legend. The Gospels tell Us of the attempts right from the beginning against Our Lords Life. The Jews were very aware of the Messiah and Messianic Leaders. The Prophecies however seemed ambiguious with the Lamb and the King. They didn’t consider Our Lord’s second coming as distinct from His first coming.
    The significance of Finding Our Lord in the Temple at the Age of 12 is the resurfacing of the Divine Child in the eyes of the movers and shakers of Israel.
    Just never forget that the Childs Life was sought for His entire Life!
    Being a Engineer and having an Uncle who was a Trader (Joseph Of Arimthea) as well as Lazarus (whom had wealth) should begin to lift the veil on those so called Nazareth years!
    St Joseph was for instance able to fly to Egypt and earn a living.
    St Joseph was a Royal Prince of Israel whereas Herod was a sartrap! We are meant to consider the story of King David and Saul which prefigured Joseph and Herod.
    We are also to consider Joseph of the coat of many colours whose own brethren sold into slavery.

    So it comes down to spiritual Truths or mundane materialism. Both Capitolism and Socialism in fact all the isms, identified out of the Enlightenment were the tools used by Satan to control and dominate Fallen Man. Nothing new in these by the way. Our Lord however took the fish and bread and multiplied it in His Hands and feed the 5000. God feed with manna those with Moses. The sick were healed and cured.
    Place Our Lord and the saints against the materialist earthly knowledge that today passes for wisdom!
    Herod’s are multiple in today’s world and the saints still persecuted.


  6. toadspittle says:

    “Carpenter? Better to say Engineer.”
    No, Roger, better to say “Carpenter” – because that what he was. “Engineers” are workers that deal with engines.
    “Ships always travelled with a Carpenter so that running repairs could be made.”
    Right. Not an Engineer.
    “This Shipwright aspect of carpentry has been glossed over …”
    No it hasn’t. There are probably thousands of books on building wooden ships. Nobody’s trying to “gloss it over.” Why would they?


  7. Robert says:

    No Toad
    Engineering means design and using well whatever material.
    Software Engineering is Text!
    Taking your opinion please now furnish evidence of working design plans being carried on Israel ships 2000 years ago!
    Under your logic a wooden ship is not engineered! A shipwright with wooden ships is a carpenter.
    Actually furniture is engineered.
    God was the engineer and designer of the Ark of course.
    The significance is that a Shipwright/Carpenter of course could travel to Glastonbury. The Glastonbury tin was traded in Med.


  8. Robert says:

    St Joseph of Arimethea and of course Lazarus traded and this would include India of course. Interesting the existence of Jews communities was the route followed by the Apostles – hence using the Greek language for the New Testament.
    Even the Vikings were known to have traded in Med. What is more St John pointed out Our Lord KNEW EVERTHING! but of course it suits the Proud and Wise to denigrate Christ. Imply some sort of country bumpkin with no knowledge of world events!!
    I remind that at 12 years old he astounded the scholars of the Temple! He knew and knows everything Toad.


  9. Robert says:

    I had hoped that somebody would develop the incredible spiritual significance of St Joseph the Wood Worker.
    Its of course Genesis and the Tree Of knowledge of Good and Evil. The Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth, new Adam and Eve and there is St Joseph the maker and shaper of Wood. Is it no coincidence that we all have Crosses to carry in Life and here is St Joseph with the skill to shape that wood of Our Crosses. Wood is taken from a living Tree. Wood is organic metal isn’t.


  10. jubilare says:

    I think there’s something in manual labor that is more healthy for the soul than a lot of other jobs. Not that other kinds of work can’t be equally offered to God, but that manual labor is… perhaps easier to offer. At least, I find it so.


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