This Feast Day, May 1st, is Saint Joseph the Worker and a lot of people who go to church are not aware of this feast day. Usually, they think of the one in March. This feast day is a very special feast day of Saint Joseph because it celebrates him as being the worker. May 1st is also an important day. May Day as it is known, or Mayday if you are being attacked. Mayday throughout the world, especially in the communist countries, was used to celebrate communism. Communism is the exact opposite of good, dignified work. The Holy Father at the time decided that he would make this May 1st the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker in order to combat communism. He was revealing to us the dignity and goodness of workers. We come here today with that in mind – that we are here to consecrate ourselves to Saint Joseph and to realize that dignified work is a good thing.
From the time of the fall, when Adam and Eve committed their original sin their punishment would be to work and toil. That would be their punishment. We see in the beginning of the first reading, in the act of creation, that God worked. For six days He worked creating all the goodness of the earth, and on the seventh day, He rested. Work originally had a dignity, a goodness to it. It was original sin that destroyed that, and we became slaves. We became people who would toil for our work as opposed to enjoying and loving our work. Saint Joseph is one who redeems this. It is interesting in this scripture passage that Joseph is always in the shadows. We talked about that a lot. One of the images of Saint Joseph is shadow of the Father. He is the shadow of the Father. We hear in the scripture reading that one of the few times that he is referred to, they do not even use his name. They say, “Where did this man get such mighty deeds and wisdom? Is he not the carpenter’s son?” Yet, Saint Joseph is someone who dignifies work. Carpentry for him was good. Not only that, but he would teach his son, raise his son, and show him the goodness and the dignity of labor and of work.
One of the consecration prayers that I would like to reflect on in this homily before we do our actual consecration is by Saint Pope Pius X, and it is Consecration of Saint Joseph the Worker. I would just like to read through this with you line by line and reflect on the goodness and the dignity of Saint Joseph and his work.
O Glorious St Joseph, model of all who labor. – So Saint Joseph is the model of laboring. What is interesting about Saint Joseph is that we do not know any of his works. Nobody has a tool bench of Saint Joseph. Nobody has a cabinet that Saint Joseph made. We do not have any relics from his creations. Rather, Saint Joseph was one who worked behind the scenes, and that is a model for all laborers to work because it is good. Not to work because we are producing something; not to work because we want wealth; not to work because it will gain us honor; but, to simply work because it is a good.
He says, The grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation for my numberless sins. – So when we find work difficult, we can let it be a penance for us. We can say, “I am going to do this as a penance for the sins that I have committed.”
Those times of preferring duty to inclinations. To work with joy and gratitude regarding it as an honor to develop and employ my work the gifts which I have received from God – Remember that when we work, just like this Consecration of Saint Joseph, this is a gift to you. It is not anything you are doing or earning. It is a gift to be able to work. It is a gift to be part of God’s creation and plan.
We work with order, peace, patience, and moderation without ever recoiling before weariness and difficulties. To work especially with a pure intention and detached from self ever having death before our eyes. – Remember when we talked about death a little bit earlier? To focus on our death and honored deathbed. Can we look back at our lives and think I have done things that God has asked me to do? If we can look at our deathbed or remember that Memoire Morte to think about how our lives are a preparation ultimately for our death.
If we have that death before our eyes and account for which we must give for our time. – Think about how did I work in this life? Did I do what God wanted me to do? Did I use the talents? He says, For talents unused, for good or for vain satisfaction and success so fatal to the work of God.
During these 33 days that we have spent together, we have looked at the attributes of Saint Joseph and seen how God made this man so wonderful a protector. How admirable that he would be willing to take Mary into his home even despite the gravity of her situation. She was bearing the Son of God, and Joseph felt himself unworthy. He took that work upon himself, and he took Mary and Jesus and cared for them.
When the angel came to him in a dream and sent him to Bethlehem. He would take on that task of that laborious journey of going to Bethlehem. When he would get there and there was no place for him at the inn, he would work diligently to find a place for them. To be creative, he found the stable and the manger. Then the same thing happened in Egypt. He would have to go to Egypt to this enemy territory where he would have to protect and defend Mary and Jesus. He would work lovingly for them. Finally, when he was brought back to Nazareth, he would spend the rest of his days working as a carpenter. He would do that until his very last breath. We believe he died a happy death in the arms of Mary and with the Lord Jesus his Savior right there. What allowed him to die a happy death? He worked in life as God commanded him in life. He did the will of God in his life at every moment, at every opportunity, and at every difficulty.
He continues to work in heaven because now he wants to intercede for you. He wants to protect you. He wants to defend you. He wants to have that same intimacy with you that he had with Jesus. For thirty some years, he got to be with Jesus teaching him in the workshop. Can you imagine that intimacy between a father and a son? Father showing son how to do something. The son asking his father questions. Joseph wants to have that same relationship with you. So, next time you find yourself frustrated or discouraged or unsure when you are working, turn to Saint Joseph. Let him intercede for you. Let him walk with you all through this life still.
Ultimately, he can be with you in your death and each and every one of us can work until we die. That work will be a dignified work. That work will be a good work. That work will bring joy and gladness into our lives.
We will now make the Act of Consecration to Saint Joseph, so I invite everyone to stand. We are going to do the one by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
O Holy Patriarch, I rejoice with you at the exalted dignity by which you were deemed worthy to act as father to Jesus, to give him orders and to be obeyed by him whom heaven and earth obey.
O great saint, as you were served by God, I too wish to be taken into your service. I choose you, after Mary, to be my chief advocate and protector.
I promise to honor you every day by some special act of devotion and by placing myself under your daily protection.
By that sweet company which Jesus and Mary gave you in your lifetime, protect me all through life, so that I may never separate myself from my God by losing his grace.
My dear St. Joseph, pray to Jesus for me. Certainly, He can never refuse you anything, as He obeyed all your orders while on earth. Tell Him to detach me from all creatures and from myself, to inflame me with His holy love, and then to do with me what He pleases.
By that assistance which Jesus and Mary gave you at death, I beg of you to protect me in a special way at the hour of my death, so that dying assisted by you, in the company of Jesus and Mary, I may go to thank you in paradise and, in your company, to praise my God for all eternity. Amen.
At this point I am going to bless any holy objects that you have. So, if you have anything that you would like to be blessed, please get them ready. This is a prayer by Saint Pope John XXIII to bless all the religious objects that you have.
O Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste spouse of Mary,
you who passed your life in perfect fullness of duty.
Sustaining the Holy Family of Nazareth with the works of your hands.
Kindly keep those who with total trust now come to you.
You know their aspirations, their miseries, and their hopes.
They come to you because they know that you understand and protect them.
You too have known trial, and toil and weariness.
But even their midst of worries about the materialistic life, your soul was filled with a profound peace and an exalted and unerring joy through intimacy with the Son of God who was entrusted to you and with Mary, His most sweet mother.
May those whom you protect understand that they are not alone in their toil but show them how to discover Jesus at their side.
To receive Him with grace and to guard Him faithfully as you have done and with your prayers obtain that in every family and every factory and every workshop wherever Christians work all may be satisfied in charity, in patience, in justice and seeking righteousness so that abundant gifts may shower upon them from heaven.
May Almighty God bless you and all these objects. In the name of The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit. Amen.