The other day I was working on a landscape project in my yard, and what began as a small path of rocks slowly lead to adding logs and more rocks. While the project appeared daunting at first, with every rock laid and log rolled, it became a labor of love. At first the project had appeared daunting, yet at some point I realized how much joy I felt doing the work. It was hard work, yet, as I wiped the sweat from my forehead, I recognized a sense of joy that I felt as I finished the work. It made me wonder why I didn't have the same feeling towards all the work I do.
One thing we all have in common is work. Whether we go to a job where we get paid, whether we work at home raising children, or whether we work in the yard on the weekend, work is usually a significant part of all our lives. According to Father Don Miller, OFM,
"Beginning in the Book of Genesis, the dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gn 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. Saint Joseph, the carpenter and foster father of Jesus, is but one example of the holiness of human labor."
The patron saint of work is Saint Joseph. Since that day of labor in my yard, I have begun to daily ask Saint Joseph to give me strength and respect for whatever work is ahead of me. It isn't always easy to pray for joy in work, but when I do, I almost always receive some consolation. However, even if I feel nothing but drudgery about the work I am doing, I can at least offer it up for my own sins and those of the whole world.
Have you every thought about the work you do? Have you prayed the Saint Joseph the Worker prayer? Try it, you might begin to feel better about the work you are involved in . . .
Here is the prayer to Saint Joseph the Worker composed by Pope St. Pius X:
O Glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with thankfulness and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, never shrinking from weariness and trials; to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, keeping unceasingly before my eyes death and the account that I must give of time lost, talents unused, good omitted, and vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thy example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.
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