Saint Joseph the Worker, in the words of three Popes

In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared the great Saint Joseph patron of the universal Catholic Church.

To foster even deeper devotion to Saint Joseph through the liturgy, and to counter the ungodly “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Ven. Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of all workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. Work is to serve God and not be something isolated from family but focused on providing and serving the family.

Beginning in the Book of Genesis, human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gn 2:15) and to be productive in their labours. Saint Joseph, faithful  guardian and provider of the Holy Family, is the finest example of the holiness of human labour. We can see from his actions that speak louder than words that Joseph was a compassionate man, and obedient to the will of God. Pope St John Paul II once said:

”Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God.”

And again:

”Human work, and especially manual labor, receive special prominence in the Gospel…At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption.”

This silent saint, who was given the noble task of caring and watching over the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus, now cares for and watches over the Church and models for us the dignity we possess too when we fulfill our daily toils and duties with loving care and responsibility. Also, what a lesson St Joseph gives to fathers and what a model he provides for them as a foundation for leading their families. Fathers today need to spend time with Jesus and Mary every day, modelling themselves after St. Joseph, attending daily Mass if possible.

Pope Pius XII offered these words to some Italian workers about turning to St Joseph as their patron:

“St Joseph is the best protector to help you in your life, to penetrate the spirit of the Gospel. Indeed, from the Heart of the God-Man, Saviour of the world, this spirit is infused in you and in all men, but it is certain that there was no worker’s spirit so perfectly and deeply penetrated as the putative father of Jesus, who lived with him in the closest intimacy and community of family and work. So, if you want to be close to Christ, I repeat to you ‘Ite ad Ioseph’: Go to Joseph.”

We conclude with the beautiful prayer of Pope St Pius X to St Joseph the Worker:

“O Glorious St Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labour, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honour to employ and to develop by labour the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen”

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4 Responses to Saint Joseph the Worker, in the words of three Popes

  1. Crow says:

    What a wonderful post – thank you Kathleen.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    This is the Pius X prayer which I memorized years ago (a bit different from the above) and which I’ve typed here without first looking at the above, which I don’t think as good as my version:
    Glorious St Joseph,
    Model of all who devote their lives to labour,
    Obtain for me the grace to work,
    In a spirit of penance,
    Thereby to atone for my sins,
    To work conscientiously,
    Setting devotion to duty above my own whims,
    To work with thankfulness and joy, deeming it
    An honour to employ and develop by my labour,
    The gifts I have received from God,
    To work with peace, order, moderation and patience,
    Without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties,
    To work, above all, with pure intention and with detachment from self,
    Having always before my eyes, the hour of my death,
    And the account I must give for time ill spent, talents wasted,
    Good omitted and work half done.
    All for Jesus, all through Mary, all in memory of thee, Patriarch Joseph!

    I think the St Joseph prayer I recite each morning (some mornings) is the better version.


  3. kathleen says:

    Thanks Crow.

    There is so much more one could say about this beloved saint in the writings of the Popes, but not that much that concentrates on the aspect of St Joseph as a worker to provide for the Holy Family. The feast itself of course is fairly new.

    Unfortunately the often violent, left wing and secular demonstrations of ‘May Day’ have totally overwhelmed the Christian understanding of this feast. Even the biblical quote (Gn 2:15) mentioned in the text has been tainted nowadays by the earth worshippers in the Church to take the focus off our true purpose for being created. … (And you know who I am taking about, don’t you? 😉)


  4. kathleen says:

    Yes JH, that is a truly lovely version of the prayer to St Joseph by Pope Pius X.


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