Saint Joseph the Worker
Every Labor Day weekend two men always pop up in my mind: Saint Joseph the Worker and my Dad. When I was growing up I always associated Saint Joseph and my father. I thought of Saint Joseph as the strong, silent type. The Gospels recall no speeches or quotes of Saint Joseph, but it does remember his actions: the refusal to expose Mary publicly when he initially assumed that she had betrayed him, his leading his family into Egypt on the warning of the Angel, the years of Christ’s growth to manhood when Saint Joseph labored to support his family. That was my father, a man of actions and not words. My father was not a talkative man, he simply was always there when anything needed to be done. From going off each day to cut steel in the truck body plant where he worked, to repairing broken items around the house, to fixing a furnace for an old widow who couldn’t pay a professional to come to fix it and then asking my mom to buy the widow a sack of groceries because he saw she had no food in her house, to defending me from a child hood bully, I grew up under the protection and inspiration of my silent father. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Nothing for a Labor Day weekend seemed more appropriate than a Hymn to Saint Joseph by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles.
“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this is happening.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat; ‘Men have forgotten God; That’s why all this happened.’”
Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, instituted by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955 as an alternative to the Communist May Day marches. Today is also the beatification of John Paul II. (I will have much more on Blessed John Paul II tomorrow.) Today is also the Victims of Communism Day. Hattip to Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy who began the campaign to make this day a day to remember the some one hundred million men, women and children murdered by Communist regimes and movements.
On Labor Day it is good to recall Saint Joseph the Worker. When God decided to partake in our humanity, He could have had anyone for His foster father, and He chose a humble carpenter, a man who worked with his hands. Why?
The Bible gives us no indication that Saint Joseph was intelligent, brave or resourceful. He may have been all these things, but the Bible does not tell us. We know that he was of the House of David, but judging from all indications in the Bible he lived in humble circumstances. What made Joseph stand out to God other than the fact of his heritage?
Kindness I think, simple human kindness. This was graphically demonstrated at the very beginning when Saint Joseph first is mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 1:18 and 19:
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.