To foster deep devotion to Saint Joseph among Catholics, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. Beginning in the Book of Genesis, the dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gn 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. Saint Joseph, the carpenter and foster father of Jesus, is but one example of the holiness of human labor.
One cannot speak about work as a means to holiness without also approaching the subject of the Sabbath or seventh day. The reading from the book of Genesis closes the first creation account with the words which established the seventh day as a day on which God rested from the labor of creation and called it holy. This means that God set this day apart from the other six. God sets this day apart in order to give creation a day to rest from commerce and observe a day devoted to worship and thanksgiving. Gone are the days when businesses closed on Sunday. Most of us are old enough to remember that Sunday used to be a day that was devoted to worship and spending time with the family.
Saint Joseph is held up as a model of work and the dignity of work. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God made man, the 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.”
Today we remember Joseph even more specially because of the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope Francis who wanted the whole Church to remember this man who is the special guardian of the entire Church.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator