While on May 1st most of the world celebrates May Day/International Worker’s Day, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. His feast was especially significant the year 2021, since Pope Francis declared it the Year of St. Joseph in his Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde.
One of St. Joseph’s many titles is “Model of Workers”, because no saint better underlines the dignity of work than he does. Pope Francis writes, “Saint Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family. From him, Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labor.” In him, we are reminded of the dignity that lies in employment; work is not just a means to an end, it brings joy as we put our talents at the service of society, for the glory of God.
It is easy for laypeople to read about the lives of the saints and feel disconnected from their experience; vows of poverty and martyrdom seem so distant from the worldliness of our daily lives—rush hour commutes, office politics and retirement planning; diaper changing, school projects and sibling rivalries. But as the life of St. Joseph and the writings of St. Jose-Maria Escriva constantly remind us, we will be sanctified through our families and professions or not at all.
St. John Henry Newman wrote that “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.” Keep that in mind as you prepare for the upcoming work week. Your profession is significant in determining who you can influence and how you interact with the public square. Even the smallest and most mundane acts can, when performed with Christian charity, prove transformative both for yourself and those you serve.
On May 1st, we join with the spirit of Patris Corde in praying with Pope Francis:
Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!
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