Today the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, one of two days in the church calendar on which we honor St. Joseph. The memorial was instituted by Pope Pius XII, some say in response to Communist-sponsored May day celebrations for workers. It is a day dedicated to the dignity of labor and to honoring workers.
Work is central to who we are as human persons. As my friend Randy Lee once put it, “man does not work because he does not have the wealth stored up to be constantly at rest; man works because his dignity is in creating.” Gaudium et spes speaks of work as the means by which humans develop themselves and in Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II observed that humans express and fulfill themselves by working.
This view of work stems from our creation in the image of God; created in the image of God, human are called to co-create the world with God. We participate in the act of creation, we share in God’s creative activity, through our work.
On this day on which we remember St. Joseph the Worker, we pray in a special way for all workers and we pray that we may develop and use the gifts God has given us to do the work to which He has called us.