Today is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1956, this feast is full of depth to be examined. From the humility and working life of St. Joseph, through the working of our Lord in Joseph’s shop, and much more, this day provides ample material for reflection for all Catholics. For our purposes, let’s consider how the feast calls man to a certain threefold remembrance:
1.We must work as a penalty for the Fall
2. Through His Life, Passion, and Death, Jesus Christ has sanctified work
3. Because of His sanctifying effect on work, it is a true blessing for the sons of Adam to work in communion with the life and work of Christ
In fact, all of this can be seen in the Collect for today’s Mass: “O God, Creator of all things, Who didst lay on the human race the law of labor (first remembrance): graciously grant that by following the example of Saint Joseph and under his patronage (second remembrance), we may carry out the work Thou dost command, and obtain the reward Thou dost promise (third remembrance). Through our Lord…”
It is the beauty of Christ’s work that He has taken so many things that were imposed upon us as a punishment, and reversed or transformed them into something meritorious. Death is a punishment for the Fall, and yet, we may unite our death with that of Christ and so doing, by dying a happy death, merit eternal life.
The same is true of work. And yet, especially today, we must be aware of spirits and systems which are enemies of the Catholic position.
In our own age, there are two heavy currents which militate against this Catholic understanding of work. First is that of the communists, who see work as something demeaning, and thus demand that all share equally in the burden, emphasizing the communal group’s worth to an exaggerated extent, so that individual property, talents, and skills are crushed, and individuals will not receive the just merits of their work, but these will be given equally to all, contrary to justice.
The second current militating against the Catholic understanding of work is that of the economic liberals. Emphasizing the individual and his good to an exaggerated extent, they destroy any notion of the common good, and equally seeing work as a burden, allow each individual the “freedom” to break out of that burden, in almost whatever way he is able, with unbridled competition, so that he may lay the entirety of work upon those below him, though he will reap the benefits of their labor, contrary to justice.
Both of these currents seek to destroy the Catholic notion of work. It is for this reason, that we can only see the merciful designs of Providence in the implementation of this Feast by Pope Pius XII, calling us back to a Catholic notion of work, consecrated to, and under the patronage of St. Joseph. Let us, then, resolve to embrace, love, and sanctify our own work, through its union with the work and death of Jesus Christ, and under the glorious patronage of St. Joseph.
“Wisdom rendered to the just the wages of their labors and conducted them in a wonderful way; and she was to them for a covert by day and for the light of stars by night. Alleluia, alleluia. Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” – Introit of Today’s Mass
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