Saint Joseph, the virginal father of Jesus Christ, was faithful to his daily work as a carpenter. With his work, Saint Joseph supported his virgin wife, Mary, and the Child Jesus, his Son.
“Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you;
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as they spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as they consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honor him as they honored him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as they were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him, as they love him still”
(St. Alphonsus Liguori).
Pope Pius XII established the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. He chose May 1, a day the Communists used to celebrate their view of labor, as the day for this important feast which shows the importance of work in a Christian’s life. The pope gave Christian workers the example of Saint Joseph to show forth the dignity of labor, no matter how menial.
“If the Family of Nazareth is an example and model for human families, in the order of salvation and holiness, so too, by analogy, is Jesus’ work at the side of Joseph the carpenter. In our own day, the Church has emphasized this by instituting the liturgical memorial of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1” (St. John Paul II).
St. John Paul II went on to say: “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.”
In 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated: “It is necessary to live a spirituality that helps believers to sanctify themselves through their work, imitating St. Joseph, who had to provide with his own hands for the daily needs of the Holy Family and whom, consequently, the Church holds up as Patron of workers.”
Prayer for our work helps us get through the stresses and struggles we experience as we support ourselves and our loved ones. We can offer our work to God for His honor and glory and for the good of ourselves and others; in this way work becomes a prayer.
This prayer to St. Joseph the Worker, a prayer for our work, was written by Pope Pius X. St. Joseph, patron of workers, a happy death, and the Universal Church, pray for us!
Saint Joseph the Worker Prayer
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 death always 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.