The pandemic has drastically altered the way we work. More than a year ago, many workers abruptly began working in an online environment. That shift brought advantages, but also its share of anxieties and limitations, including the tensions and even traumas that many families experienced during the pandemic. Even so, in the intervening months, many have grown comfortable working at home. Others, including many frontline workers, have remained on the job, often putting their lives at risk. I think, for example, of Catholic educators, healthcare workers and those who provide social services, and indeed so many others who devote themselves to keeping our essential services going. These people are the unsung heroes of the labor force. We have every reason to be grateful to them.
We should have special concern for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and let us not forget that many of the employed are, in fact, underemployed. Some hold down several jobs just to make ends meet. Often, they work for minimum wage, and even in the best of times, their job security is minimal. Over the past year, many who lost their jobs found it difficult to access their unemployment benefits and other much-needed services. Some found themselves living on the street. Others are facing eviction notices in the near future.
During this year that Pope Francis has dedicated to St. Joseph, let us ask this great saint’s intercession for our daily work of heart and hand. St. Joseph the Worker is an appealing role model for breadwinners seeking to balance the demands of the workplace with the vocation of establishing a secure, peaceful and faith-filled home. St. Joseph, who worked as carpenter and imparted his skills to Jesus, helps us understand the dignity of our daily work and the contribution God is calling us to make to our world and, indeed, to his Kingdom.
St. Joseph the Worker, whose feast is May 1, is also a fitting patron for the unemployed and underemployed. Just as he provided for the Holy Family in their need, so too he intercedes for those in our society who are left behind. Through the prayers of St. Joseph, may we also find the strength, wisdom and love we need, so that we might do our part, as citizens and believers, to bring about equity and fairness in the workplace.
St. Joseph the Worker, prayer for us!
Prayer to St. Joseph
O St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of Mary, you who passed your life in the perfect fulfillment of duty, sustaining the Holy Family of Nazareth with the work of your hands, kindly keep those who with total trust now come to you.
You know their aspirations, their miseries and their hopes. They come to you because they know that you will understand and protect them. You, too, have known trial, toil and weariness.
But even in the midst of worries about the material life, your soul was filled with profound peace, and it exulted in unerring joy through intimacy with the Son of God who was entrusted to you, and with Mary, his most sweet Mother.
May those whom you protect understand they are not alone in their toil but show them how to discover Jesus at their side, to receive him with grace, to guard him faithfully, as you have done.
And with your prayers obtain that in every family, in every factory, in every workshop, in every store, wherever a Christian works, all may be satisfied in charity, in patience, in justice, in seeking righteousness, so that abundant gifts may shower upon them from heaven. Amen.
— Adapted from Pope St. John XXIII
For more resources, visit the archdiocesan webpage about the Year of St. Joseph here.
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