This weekend marks Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer activities and the beginning of a brand new school year. We have had a really beautiful summer with many sunny and warm days, though there is definitely a part of me that is longing for the cooler days and changing colors of autumn. School is back in session and I am happy to report that the school year at St. Mary’s has gotten off on the right foot!
Seeing as it is Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be worthwhile to include a few reflections on work. In 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st. St. Joseph becomes the model for all workers and in part of his decree for this new feast day, in the Acts of Pope Pius XII, we read:
“As the mother of all men, a most provident mother, the Church is greatly concerned to protect and improve the conditions of workmen, and to establish and promote their associations, which Pope Pius XII wished to see put under the patronage of St. Joseph. For as the saintly Joseph acted as father to Christ, and Christ Himself was not displeased to be called a carpenter and the son of a carpenter, their relationship united Joseph with Jesus, from whom he drew in abundance that spirit by which man’s toil is ennobled and elevated.”
Pope Pius XII also composed a prayer which would is perhaps something we can pray this Labor Day as well as, perhaps, every day that we head off to work:
Prayer to St. Joseph Model of Workers
Pope Pius XII
O glorious Patriarch, Saint Joseph, humble and just artisan of Nazareth, thou hast given to all Christians and particularly to us an example of a perfect life through diligent labor and admirable union with Jesus and Mary. Assist us in our daily work in order that we, Catholic artisans, may also see in it an effective means of glorifying God, of sanctifying ourselves, and of being a useful member in the society in which we live. These should be the highest ideals for all our actions.
O dearest Protector, obtain for us from the Lord humility and simplicity of heart, love for our work and kindness towards our fellow-laborers; conformity to God's will in the unavoidable trials of this life together with joy in bearing them; recognition of our specific social mission and a sense of responsibility; the spirit and discipline of prayer; docility and respectfulness towards superiors; the spirit of brotherhood towards our equals; charity and indulgence with our dependents.
Accompany us in times of prosperity when the opportunity is given for an honest enjoyment of the fruits of our labors; sustain us in our hours of sadness, when Heaven seems to be shut in our regard, and even the very tools with which our hands toil appear to rebel against us.
Grant that, in imitation of thee, we may keep our eyes fixed on our Mother, Mary, thy dearest Spouse, who as she spun silently in a corner of thy shop would let the sweetest smile course over her lips. Besides, may we never take our eyes off Jesus, Who was busily occupied with thee at the carpenter’s bench, in order that we in like manner may lead on earth a peaceful and a holy life, a prelude to the life of eternal happiness that awaits us in Heaven forever and ever. +Amen.