What words come to mind as you think about your work life? Do honest, diligent, hardworking, patient, persevering, charitable, forbearing, pleasant, productive, balanced come to mind? As we honor St. Joseph the Worker on the eve of his feast day tomorrow, we look at who he was as a worker and how he can inspire us in our work life.
The Solemnity of St. Joseph honored St. Joseph as the spouse of the Immaculata and the foster father of Jesus Christ. We know he serves as a role model for the perfect father and wants to be our spiritual father, leading us to Mary and Jesus. The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker that we will celebrate tomorrow focuses on how he leads us to serve God through our work.
The devil hates an honest and diligent worker. At the beginning of human history, the wicked serpent attacked the human family in the workplace, the garden that God gave Adam and Eve to keep. And we know what happened there! St. Joseph taught Jesus how to work and he is capable to serve as our role model as well. Hard work benefits the person, the family and society. There are many prayers for workers and those looking for work to help guide us to follow St. Joseph’s example.
St. Joseph supported Jesus and Mary by the work of his hands and the sweat of his brow. He had the Son of God as his fellow worker. He is the model of patience and perseverance, charitable and forbearing towards all. He looked upon work with the eyes of faith and pride, recognizing it as a share in God’s own creative activity and work in redemption. He gave thanks to God when he was pleasant and productive. He offered his work to God when it was burdensome.
With all the benefits of work, though, we all recognize that it is not always pleasant and easy. Especially with the challenges of working remotely, blurring the lines between our work and personal lives. Putting in a hard day’s work can be taxing on the mind and the soul, and leaves us often with less energy and time to spend with family, friends, and other worthwhile activities, including prayer and spiritual pursuits. It can be burdensome. Our Lord desired to do manual labor for many years before he started his public ministry. He wanted to show us that work is pleasing to God.
Our culture today places value in being a workaholic and for many, work defines our identity. A recent New York Times article featured a British man’s post on LinkedIn that went viral on his rules for living after his heart attack. He vows that he will not spend all day on Zoom anymore, that he will restructure his approach to work, that he will no longer put up with workplace drama, and will spend more time with his family. While work has many benefits for us, our families, and society, God does not want us to work so hard that we do not take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Invite St. Joseph to help if you are suffering from overwork to help you balance work with the many other valuable parts of your life!
Workaholism in America is difficult to measure, but we are thought to have some of the highest rates of people in the world working over 50 hours a week. Studies show that those who work the most hours desire to work less. According to this survey, the most overworked professions are: Marketers, HR Professionals, IT specialists, Lawyers, and Salespeople. Workaholism has serious effects on the employee and their family with possible issues including burnout and chronic stress, depression and anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and relationship strain and negative family consequences. From a spiritual standpoint, workaholism serves as a distraction from our vocational responsibilities including prayer. This does not please God, or benefit the person, their family or society. This article provides an interesting perspective on how this is aligned to the sin of sloth.
If you find yourself working too hard and unable see your work as your part in God’s creative redemption here on earth, invite St. Joseph to help. He can help can be our example of the perfect worker in addition to being our spiritual father.
We are smitten with your goodness St. Joseph, pray for us!