Today, May 1, is the beginning of the Month of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. It is also the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, Our Mother’s husband, and foster-father to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus. This second feast day of Saint Joseph was instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII. Celebrated on May 1—a day in which labor and those who labor are celebrated in many countries across the world—the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker reminds us of why in the Gospels of our Lord, Jesus was referred to as“the son of the carpenter.”
We are reminded, that honest work, no matter how seemingly trivial, unimportant, unglamorous, or menial, can be sanctified. That is, hard work is the Lord’s work. Hard work is holy. Through work we can sanctify ourselves and others, making each of us participants in the work of redemption!
Saint Joseph was a model of tireless work, providing for his family and our Lord. Pius XII emphasized this, proclaiming, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world. But certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work.
Many saints and popes have spoken at great length of the sanctity of Saint Joseph and his work. Blessed Pope John Paul II said, “Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.”
St. Josemaria Escriva declared, “St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.”
Lastly, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, proclaiming, "May this day be an opportunity for deeper reflection on the meaning of work and its proper place in family life."
Prayer to Saint Joseph the Worker (Written by Pope Saint Pius IX)
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.