Remember St. Joseph, the Worker

He may be the second-greatest saint in the Church, and yet we often overlook St. Joseph, whose feast day as "the Worker" the Church observes on May 1.

Humility and silence
Perhaps it's his humility and his silence in Scripture. After all, St. Joseph never speaks in the Gospels. We are left to pray over his actions, not his words. And perhaps this humble carpenter, this silent "Savior of the Savior," as the Fathers of the Church called him for saving the Child Jesus from Herod's fear, prefers it this way. Perhaps he was always a man of few words, speaking little, doing much, often overlooked.

Perhaps it's fitting that the earthly spouse of the holiest of women is among the least talkative of men. He stands aside for his wife in the same fashion as Christ laying Himself down for His Bride. Clearly, Jesus learned a great deal from the human man chosen to be an icon of His Heavenly Father. Indeed, St. Joseph had to be holy as God in Heaven is holy, or else the Lord of all would not have been entrusted to his stewardship and care. We are told in the Gospels that Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary, and consequently "advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man" (Lk 2:51). What sort of man must Joseph have been that God Incarnate could have learned from him, would have accepted being put under obedience to him, and grown as a result?

He is a challenge
Let us turn to Joseph and learn from him, for he is a challenge to our modern age of self-promotion and self-seeking, of pride and power and wealth. Let us learn to be like Joseph, and ask for his intercession, for he is our spiritual father, and he loves us as he loves his adopted Son.

So as we celebrate St. Joseph's feast, let us learn from St. Joseph's mastery of what it means to be a good man, a good husband and father, and a good child of God. Let us learn from a man of silence, of hard work and chaste love, to embrace humility. Let us abide in prayer so that when God calls us, we are open to the Holy Spirit and able to discern the will of the Lord. Let us trust in God and obey, even when we don't understand, and so become a blessing to ourselves and to the world.

Prayer of Pope St. Pius X to St. Joseph the Worker
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my numberless sins; preferring devotion to duty to my inclinations; to work with joy and gratitude, regarding it as an honor to develop and employ by work the gifts I have received from God; to work with order, peace, patience, and moderation, without ever recoiling before weariness and difficulties; to work, especially, with a pure intention and detached from myself, ever having death before my eyes and the account which I must give for time lost, for talents unused, for good omitted, and for vain satisfaction in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate you, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen. 


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