Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
SATURDAY, May 1st Jn. 14: 7-14 FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH THE WORKER “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
“There are many saints to whom God has given the power to assist us in the necessities of life, but the power given to Saint Joseph is unlimited: It extends to all our needs, and all those who invoke him with confidence are sure to be heard.” Saint Thomas Aquinas
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! To honor Saint Joseph the Worker, whom God the Father charged to provide for Our Blessed Mother and Jesus, let us pray and strive to improve our work ethic with the help of the following meditation.
WORK TO SANCTIFY YOUR SOUL by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Work is good for us! Why? Jesus taught us the importance of work by spending most of His time on earth in Nazareth with Mary, His Mother and Saint Joseph, His foster-father. Among the many activities that Jesus carried out was that of work. True! Saint Joseph taught Jesus the hard and demanding work of a carpenter. No electric helps back then! Sawing, sanding, nailing, measuring and adjusting wood to construct tables, doors, chairs, etc. This indeed was hard-work!
In my private meditations, I have often imagined Jesus and Saint Joseph arriving home after a hard-day’s work. Imagine them. Exhausted, drenched with sweat, their hair filled with saw-dust, their hands grimy and calloused. This was not on one occasion, but day after day.
This being the case, in a world where the importance of the work-ethic has largely gone by the wayside, many choose the easy-path – instead of working hard, they hardly work, cutting corners wherever they can. Thus laziness and indolence are all the more prevalent.
We would like to present positive reasons why we should truly value work in its many dimensions, shapes, and forms and embrace the work ethic all the days of our short lives on earth. Saint Paul says, “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” Saint Albert Hurtado stated: “There are two places to rest while on earth: the cemetery and heaven.” Let us work hard in this short stay on earth and then we can rest forever in heaven with Jesus, Mary and good St. Joseph!
Following are some reasons to motivate us to embrace a more serious work ethic so as to perfect our lives on a human level, but even more on a spiritual level. Here are five specific points to motivate us.
Imitation of Jesus and Mary. At Nazareth, where Jesus spent most of His life on earth, He lived the family life, which consisted of loving and obeying His parents, prayer to His heavenly Father, but also daily work, and His work was hard—that of a carpenter. Therefore, one very clear reason for work is to imitate Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph; they are our models in everything and that includes dedication to work. The three of them were hard workers, orderly and methodical, for the honor and glory of God. Such should be our work ethic!
Charity Toward Others. Another reason for hard work, and the positive effect of work well-done, is that it can be turned into a service of love toward others. An industrious wife and mother spending long hours in the kitchen preparing, cooking, and cleaning is indeed very hard work, but it is also an act of service and charity towards her family, as well as an act of love for God. Saint Paul reminds us to purify our motives: “Whether you eat or drink do all for the honor and glory of God.”
Avoid the Many Temptations of Sin. Saint John Bosco, the well-known patron of the young, experienced a mortal fear every year at the same time. Vacation time for the young! Why? For the simple reason that many of his young boys would leave the Oratory, where they worked hard all year at study, sports and other activities, and now they would return to a home where they had too much free time and not enough to do. The proverb rings so true: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” If a young person does not have anything to do, the devil will give him plenty to do in great abundance. Hard work and diligence in work is the key means to conquer the devil and his allies. This is true for adults as well!
Eternity and Eternal Recompense. The Word of God teaches us constantly that we will get our reward or punishment on the quality of our lives—how we utilize our time, treasures and talents. Look at the lives and example of the saints, how hard they prayed, but also how hard they worked. The motto of Saint Benedict was Ora et Labora, which translated is “pray and work.” The great Doctor of the Church, patron of moral theologians, and great lover of Mary, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, made a private vow which consisted simply of not wasting a moment of his life. Honestly, all of the saints strive to live the spirit of this private vow of Saint Alphonsus. Life is short and time indeed is of the essence. A modern Chilean and Jesuit Saint, who died in his early fifties of pancreatic cancer, Saint Alberto Hurtado expressed it succinctly: “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.”
A Good Example to Others. We all know how true it is that we often follow the example of others, be it for good or for evil. The Hispanics have a proverb: “El ejemplo arrastra”—translated: “Example drags or pulls!” Drags us down or pulls us up. As a child I actually hated Saturday mornings for the simple reason that my father made me and my older brother, and eventually the younger ones, work and work hard. I indeed hated Saturdays. However, I do have to admit that while we boys worked hard, we saw our Dad working harder. In all honesty, he worked harder and better than his sons. In other words, he preached the work ethic, not so much by words, but by the power of example, his own hard work-ethic.
The question for each one of us is how can we become a better worker for the benefit of our family and a better worker with God in the salvation of immortal souls? Let us pray to Saint Joseph the Worker to inspire us with one or two concrete proposals and the grace to carry them out with his help! If we are sincere, St. Joseph will never fail to answer this prayer.