April 30, 2017
Although Saint Joseph
would be over 2,000 years old, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
is a relatively ‘new’ day on the Church’s calendar. In 1870, Pope Pius IX, declared Saint Joseph
the Patron of the Universal Church, but in 1955, Pope Pius XII added the Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. He put it on May 1 to counter the anti-Christian, often ungodly, immoral teachings promoted by Communism on May 1 or May Day. Until 1990, the former Soviet Union celebrated the International Solidarity of Workers on May 1; most Soviet cities had parades and obligatory workers’ marches on this day.
Pope Pius also added this feast to counter all who promote the strains of Socialism, Capitalism or any ‘ism’ that put ‘work’ above the dignity of the human person – or creatures above the Creator. Here are the orations for the Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, May 1.
Saint Joseph the Worker – Collect
O God, Creator of all things, who
laid down for the human race the law of work,
graciously grant that by the example of
Saint Joseph and under his patronage
we may complete the works you set us to do and attain the rewards you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus … and ever. Amen.
THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF HUMAN LABOR. Most presume ‘work’ is a punishment from God, based on what He said after Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin: “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” [Genesis 3:19]
Even if so, Christians believe Jesus undid the ‘curse’ of work, for as Saint Paul said: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17] For Jesus, who learned carpentry skills from His foster father, ‘dignified’ our ‘daily work’ … by being a laborer Himself.
The Bible, which admittedly first presents ‘work’ as a ‘pain,’ also celebrates it as humanity’s way of sharing in God’s creative work. For as the stewards of creation, God has entrusted us with caring for the earth [Genesis 2:15]. And we know that He who was proud to be known as the son of a worker: “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” [Matthew 13:55] also said “the laborer deserves his payment.” [Luke 10:7]
And so, far from being a curse, though it can sometimes be a drag, we ‘workers’ are [hopefully!] fulfilling our Divine calling to continue God’s ‘work’.
Saint Joseph the Worker – Prayer over the Offerings
O God, fount of all mercy, look upon our offerings, which we bring before your majesty
in commemoration of Saint Joseph,
and mercifully grant that the gifts
we offer may become the means of protection for those who call upon you.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A common construction site sign proudly states: “X number of days with no accident or injury.”
In whatever our daily work is, would we be able to post a sign that says: “X number of days with no violations of God’s Law?”
This is the biblical way to see our ‘work:’ as a means to help and protect ourselves and others, as together we labor to earn a living, and provide for our own needs and the needs of others. For only by following God’s Law and God’s plan for created things will we ever be safe!
Saint Joseph the Worker – Prayer after Communion
Having fed upon heavenly delights, we humbly ask you, O Lord, that, by Saint Joseph’s example,
cherishing in our hearts the signs of your love,
we may ever enjoy the fruit of perpetual peace.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
GOD IN US.
The Church’s main ‘job’ is to get us safely to heaven, but she’s also commissioned to make the journey as pleasant as possible. So whatever our ‘work’ or ‘job’ is should somehow help set the stage for God’s grace to enter into and take effect in our world. No doubt, Saint Joseph was an honest worker, who earned a just salary for an honest day’s work; but all who ‘did business’ with him received more than they paid for; they also got a ‘taste’ of God. Can others sense God’s presence in our daily work? Saint Joseph the Worker, pray for us!
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS