May 1, 2020: ST. JOSEPH, THE WORKMAN
May 1, 2020: ST. JOSEPH, THE WORKMAN
Rank: Double of the I Class.
In whatever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them; and I will be their protector for ever. Alleluia.
Obtain for us, O Joseph, to lead an innocent life; and may it ever be safe through thy Patronage. Alleluia.
O God, the author of all things, You have established the law of labour for all mankind; grant, we beseech You, that, by the example and intercession of Saint Joseph, we may accomplish the works You command and gain the rewards You promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
The Easter mysteries are superseded to-day by a special subject, which is offered for our consideration. The holy Church invites us to spend this [day] in honouring the Spouse of Mary, the Foster-Father of the Son of God [under the title of the Workman]...
Devotion to St. Joseph was reserved for these latter times. Though based on the Gospel, it was not to be developed in the early ages of the Church. It is not that the Faithful were, in any way, checked from showing honour to him who had been called to take so important a part in the mystery of the Incarnation; but Divine Providence had its hidden reasons for retarding the Liturgical homage to be paid, each year, to the Spouse of Mary. As on other occasions, so here also; the East preceded the West in the special cultus of St. Joseph: but, in the 15th Century, the whole Latin Church adopted it, and, since that time, it has gradually gained the affections of the Faithful...
The goodness of God and our Redeemer’s fidelity to his promises have ever kept pace with the necessities of the world; so that, in every age, appropriate and special aid has been given to the world for its maintaining the supernatural life. An uninterrupted succession of seasonable grace has been the result of this merciful dispensation, and each generation has had given to it a special motive for confidence in its Redeemer. Dating from the 13th century, when, as the Church herself assures us, the world began to grow cold,—each epoch has had thrown open to it a new source of graces. First of all came the Feast of the Most Blessed Sacrament, with its successive developments of Processions, Expositions, Benedictions and the Forty Hours. After this, followed the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, (of which St. Bernardine of Sienna was the chief propagator,) and that of Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross, with its wonderful fruit of compunction. The practice of frequent Communion was revived in the 16th century, owing principally to the influence of St. Ignatius and the Society founded by him. In the 17th, was promulgated the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was firmly established in the following century. In the 19th, devotion to the Holy Mother of God has made such progress, as to form one of the leading supernatural characteristics of the period. The Rosary and Scapular, which had been handed down to us in previous ages, have regained their place in the affections of the people; Pilgrimages to the Sanctuaries of the Mother of God, which had been interrupted by the influence of Jansenism and rationalism, have been removed; the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary has spread throughout the whole world; numerous miracles have been wrought in reward for the fervent faith of individuals; in a word, [the 19th] century has witnessed the triumph of the Immaculate Conception,— a triumph which had been looked forward to for many previous ages.
Now, devotion to Mary could never go on increasing as it has done, without bringing with it a fervent devotion to St. Joseph. We cannot separate Mary and Joseph, were it only for their having such a close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation:—Mary, as being the Mother of the Son of God; and Joseph, as being guardian of the Virgin's spotless honour, and Foster-Father of the Divine Babe. A special veneration for St. Joseph was the result of increased devotion to Mary. Nor is this reverence for Mary's Spouse to be considered only as a just homage paid to his admirable prerogatives: it is, moreover, a fresh and exhaustless source of help to the world, for Joseph has been made our Protector by the Son of God himself. Hearken to the inspired words of the Church's Liturgy: “Thou, O Joseph! art the delight of the Blessed, the sure hope of our life, and the pillar of the world!” Extraordinary as is this power, need we be surprised at its being given to a man like Joseph, whose connections with the Son of God on earth were so far above those of all other men? Jesus deigned to be subject to Joseph here below; now that he is in heaven, he would glorify the creature, to whom he consigned the guardianship of his own childhood and his Mother's honour. He has given him a power, which is above our calculations. Hence it is, that the Church invites us, on this day, to have recourse, with unreserved confidence, to this all-powerful Protector. The world we live in is filled with miseries which would make stronger hearts than ours quake with fear: but, let us invoke St. Joseph with faith, and we shall be protected. In all our necessities, whether of soul or body,—in all the trials and anxieties we may have to go through,—let us have recourse to St. Joseph, and we shall not be disappointed. The king of Egypt said to his people, when they were suffering from famine: go to Joseph! (Gen, xli. 55) the King of Heaven says the same to us: the faithful guardian of Mary has greater influence with God, than Jacob's son had with Pharaoh.
As usual, God revealed this new spiritual aid to a privileged soul, that she might be the instrument of its propagation. It was thus that were instituted several Feasts, such as those of Corpus Christi, and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the 16th century, St. Teresa, (whose Writings were to have a world-wide circulation,) was instructed by heaven as to the efficacy of devotion to St. Joseph: she has spoken of it in the Life, (written by herself,) of Teresa of Jesus. When we remember, that it was by the Carmelite Order, (brought into the Western Church, in the 13th century,) that this devotion was established among us,—we cannot be surprised that God should have chosen St. Teresa, who was the Reformer of that Order, to propagate the same devotion in this part of the world. The holy solitaries of Mount Carmel,—devoted as they had been, for so many centuries, to the love of Mary,—were not slow in feeling the connection that exists between the honour paid to the Mother of God and that which is due to her virginal Spouse. The more we understand St. Joseph's office, the clearer will be our knowledge of the divine mystery of the Incarnation. As when the Son of God assumed our human nature, he would have a Mother; so also, would he give to this Mother a protector. Jesus, Mary and Joseph,—these are the three whom the ineffable mystery is continually bringing before our minds.
The words of St. Teresa are as follows: “I took for my patron and lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly * * that he rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for any thing which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God hath given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and soul. To other Saints, our Lord seems to have given grace to succour men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, to help us in all: and our Lord would have us understand that, as he was himself subject to him upon earth,—for St. Joseph having the title of father, and being his guardian, could command him,—so now in heaven he performs all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they too know this by experience; and there are many who are now of late devout to him, having had experience of this truth.” (The Life of St. Teresa:—Translated by David Lewis. 1870:—page 34.)
We might quote several other equally clear and fervent words from the writings of this seraphic Virgin. The Faithful could not remain indifferent with such teaching as this. The seed thus soon produced its fruit; slowly, it is true, but surely. Even in the first half of the 17th century, there prevailed amidst the devout clients of St. Joseph a presentiment, that the day would come, when the Church, through her Liturgy, would urge the Faithful to have recourse to him as their powerful Protector.
In a book published in the year 1645, we find these almost prophetic words:
”O thou bright sun, thou father of our days! speed thy onward course, and give us that happy day, whereon are to be fulfilled the prophecies of the Saints. They have said, that in the latter ages of the world, the glories of St. Joseph will be brought to light; that God will draw aside the veil, which has hitherto prevented us from seeing the wondrous sanctuary of Joseph's soul; that the Holy Ghost will inspire the Faithful to proclaim the praises of this admirable Saint, and to build Monasteries, Churches and Altars in his honour; that, throughout the entire kingdom of the Church Militant, he shall be considered as the special Protector, for he was the Protector of the very founder of that kingdom, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ; that the Sovereign Pontiffs will, by a secret impulse from heaven, ordain that the Feast of this great Patriarch be solemnly celebrated through the length and breadth of the spiritual domain of St. Peter; that the most learned men of the world will use their talents in studying the divine gifts hidden in St. Joseph, and that they will find in him treasures of grace incomparably more precious and plentiful, than were possessed by every the choicest of the elect of the Old Testament, during the whole four thousand years of its duration.” (La gloire de saint Joseph; par le P. Jean Jacquinot, de la Compagnie de Jesus. Dijon: 1645.)
Let us then, henceforth, have confidence in the Patronage of St. Joseph. He is the Father of the Faithful, and it is God's will, that he, more than any other Saint, should have power to apply to us the blessings of the mystery of the Incarnation,—the great mystery whereof he, after Mary, was the chief earthly minister.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year – The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871.
On May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman.
The first society in order of eminence is the family. The successful existence and continuation of the family depends above all things on authority, which is the foundation of society and preserves it in order. Then comes a devoted service of God, which places the family in proper relationship with Him and assures it His blessing. Furthermore, labor is necessary for the natural stability and support of the family. Finally, there is love, which brings with it domestic peace and happiness.
St. Joseph had an intimate part in all these situations, because he was the guide, protector, counselor, and consolation of the Holy Family in all its joys and sorrows. Thus in his benign fatherliness he is a born patron and protector of families. His place is deservedly in every home. He is the Family Saint. And since there are workers in every family, it is fitting that we turn to St. Joseph and invoke him also as the Patron of Workmen.
In the ecclesiastical year there are two feasts of St. Joseph, which are celebrated throughout the whole Church, the Feast of St. Joseph, celebrated on March 19, which originated in the fifteenth century under Pope Sixtus IV, and the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman, which is celebrated on May 1, and which replaced the Feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph [that had been celebrated on the second Wednesday after the Octave of Easter]. An entire month, March, has been especially dedicated to the veneration of St. Joseph by Pope Pius IX and Leo XIII.
As an obedient child of the Church, follow her example and advice by venerating St. Joseph faithfully. “Go to Joseph” (Gen, xli. 55) in your family needs and problems. You cannot do better than to entrust yourself and your family to the prayers and protection of him to whom God entrusted His own Son and His Blessed Mother. May he, The Family Saint, bless you and your family!
Lawrence G. Lovastk, S.V.D.
Feast of St. Joseph the Workman,
May 1, 1956
Divine Word Seminary,
Pope Pius XII
(An address to Catholic Association of Italian Workers, May 1, 1955.)
. . . From the beginning We put your organization under the powerful patronage of St. Joseph. Indeed there could be no better protector to help you deepen in your lives the spirit of the Gospel. As We said then, that spirit flows to you and 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. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, We again today repeat: “Ite ad Joseph” — Go to Joseph (Gen. xli. 55).
. . . Yes, beloved workers, the Pope and the Church cannot withdraw from the divine mission of guiding, protecting, and loving especially the suffering, who are all the more dear the more they are in need of defense and help, whether they be workers or other children of the people.
This duty and obligation We, the Vicar of Christ, desire to reaffirm clearly, here, on the first day of May — which the world of labor has claimed for itself as its own proper feastday — that all may recognize the dignity of labor and that this dignity may be a motivation in forming the social order and laws founded on the equitable distribution of rights and duties.
Acclaimed in this way by Christian workers and having received, as it were, Christian baptism, the first of May, far from being a stimulus for discord, hate and violence, is and will be a recurring invitation to modern society to accomplish that which it still lacking for social peace. A Christian feast, therefore; that is, a day of rejoicing for the concrete and progressive triumph of the Christian ideals of the great family of labor.
In order that this meaning may remain in your minds and that, in a certain manner, We may make an immediate return for the numerous and precious gifts brought to Us from all parts of Italy, We are happy to announce to you Our determination to institute — as We in fact do now institute — the liturgical feast of St. Joseph the Workman, assigning to it precisely the first day of May. Are you pleased with this Our gift, beloved workers? We are certain that you are, because the humble workman of Nazareth not only personifies before God and the Church the dignity of the manual laborer, but also he is always the provident guardian of you and your families.
Prayer to St. Joseph, the Workman.
St. Joseph, you devoted your time at Nazareth to the work of a carpenter. It was the Will of God that you and your foster-Son should spend your days together in manual labor. What a beautiful example you set for the working classes!
It was especially for the poor, who compose the greater part of mankind, that Jesus came upon earth, for in the synagogue of Nazareth He read the words of Isaias and referred them to Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he has anointed me; to bring good news to the poor he has sent me” (St. Luke, iv. 18). It was God’s Will that you should be occupied with work common to poor people, that in this way Jesus Himself might ennoble it by inheriting it from you, His foster-father, and by freely embracing it. Thus our Lord teaches us that for the humbler class of workmen He has in store His richest graces, provided they live content in the place God’s Providence has assigned them, and remain poor in spirit, for He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom ,of heaven” (St. Matt, v. 3).
The kind of work to which you devoted your time in the workshop of Nazareth offered you many occasions of practicing humility. You were privileged to see each day the example of humility which Jesus practiced — a virtue most pleasing to Him. He chose for His earthly surrounding not the courts of princes nor the halls of the learned, but a little workshop of Nazareth. Here you shared for many years the humble and hidden toiling of the God-Man. What a touching example for the worker of today!
While your hands were occupied with manual work, your mind was turned to God in prayer. From the Divine Master, who worked along with you, you learned to work in the presence of God in the spirit of prayer, for as He worked he adored His Father and recommended the welfare of the world to Him. Jesus also instructed you in the wonderful truths of grace and virtue, for you were in close contact with Him who said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
As you were working at your trade, you were reminded of the greatness and majesty of God, who, as a most wise Architect, formed this vast universe with wonderful skill and limitless power.
The light of divine faith that filled your mind, did not grow dim when you saw Jesus working as a carpenter. You firmly believed that the saintly Youth working beside you was truly God's own Son.
St. Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of being able to work side by side with Jesus in the carpenter shop of Nazareth. As a token of your own gratitude to God, obtain for me the grace to respect the dignity of labor and ever to be content with the position in life, however lowly, in which it may please Divine Providence to place me. Teach me to work for God and with God in the spirit of humility and prayer, as you did, so that I may offer my toil in union with the sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass as a reparation for my sins, and gain rich merit for heaven.
Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are specially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.
Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore: (Mention your request).
Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph, Model of Workers.
(500 days indulgence, granted by Pope St. Pius X)
Glorious Saint Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins and to work faithfully by placing the love of duty above my own desires.
Help me to work with gratitude and joy. Let me consider it an honor to use and develop by labor the gifts received from God. Aid me to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever avoiding weariness and trials.
Help me to work, above all, for the glory of God and not for any selfish reason; and always to keep before my eyes not only death but also the account I must give of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, and of pride in success, so harmful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after your example, holy patriarch. Saint Joseph! This will be my motto in life and in death. Amen.
(300 days indulgence granted by Pope Pius IX, 26th June 1863, applicable to the dead.)
Remember, most pure spouse of the blessed Virgin Mary, my amiable protector St. Joseph, that it is unheard of that any one ever had recourse to thy protection, and implored thy help, without receiving consolation. Full of this confidence in thy power, I come before thee and recommend myself to thee with fervour. Ah! despise not my prayer, O dear foster-father of our Redeemer, but graciously hear and obtain my request. Amen.
Taken from: St. Joseph, the Family Saint, by Rev. L. G. Lovasik. S.V.D., Edition 1956. Imprimatur
St. Joseph, the Workman, pray for us.