THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ST. JOSEPH IN OUR CATHOLIC FAITHMelinda A. Sequeira
By Melinda A. Sequeira | 01 May 2021
St Joseph is the person who was closest to Jesus and Mary. We know little about Joseph. When we read about Joseph in the gospels, the stories are about crises. When Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant, he decides to arrange for a discreet separation. He cannot entertain the prospect of Mary being publicly disgraced.
Divine intervention moves to halt this intended action. The Roman decree requiring Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem would have been a traumatic journey. Jesus was born in a stable ‘because there was no place for them in the inn. The flight into Egypt and the loss of Jesus in the Temple were further occasions of anguish and inconvenience.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived in the remote little village of Nazareth. Jesus probably followed his father’s profession as a tradesman. We do not know when Joseph died but when the gospels record that Jesus began his public ministry, there is no mention of Joseph.
Husband, Father, Worker: Questions and Answers about Saint Joseph, is a great way to read and learn about one of the most important Saints. To know more, please click the link of the book below this blog.
Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.
We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker. March 19 has been the most commonly celebrated feast day for Joseph, and it wasn’t until 1955 that Pope Pius XII established the Feast of “St. Joseph the Worker” to be celebrated on May 1. This is also May Day (International Workers’ Day) and believed to reflect Joseph’s status as the patron of workers.
Several institutions world over bear the name of St. Joseph. There is San Jose (the Spanish name of the saint), which is the name of the tenth largest city in the United States of America. Joseph is considered by many to also be the patron saint of the New World: China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; of the regions Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Sicily; and of several main cities and dioceses.
Pope Francis has dedicated this year to St Joseph. He did this in response to the pressure the Coronavirus has put on so many families through anxiety, unemployment and fractured relationships. He emphasizes St Joseph’s role as father of the Holy Family.
Saint Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family. From him, Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labor.
In our own day, when unemployment has once more become a burning social issue, and at times reaches a record high even in nations that for decades have enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity. There is still a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron.
In our developing nation fewer people work at making things for people to buy. Women and men are more likely to work at computers in large organizations and to see only a tiny part of what the finished product. Women are consequently less reliant on men for support but are often expected to contribute to family income. Because manufacturing is so often mechanized and computerized, requiring few workers and privileging people with a higher level of education, work for manual workers is precarious, and many can find only part-time work. People who are unemployed live on the edge of poverty and homelessness.
For both women and men work is an expression of their dignity as human beings. Respect for their dignity demands that they be seen and be able to grow as persons through their work. They are not simply cogs in a machine nor costs on a balance sheet to be hired or fired at will as profits dictate. Respect also demands that people have security of employment and participate in shaping the conditions under which they work.
The importance of work in our lives is picked up in a feast that of the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, celebrated on May 1. The feast is relatively new. Its date was chosen to compete with May Day, which represented work as a battleground between greedy employers and oppressed workers. The Feast commended a cooperative world in which work is a central part of human life and workers are honored for themselves and not simply for their use to their employers. Pope Francis also speaks eloquently of the importance that work plays in a human life.
For St Joseph work was both a gift and a struggle. It remains so today. Given the weakness of individual workers in relation to employers, we always need to shape a society, which ensures that the conditions under which people work are fair and respectful.
Here are two amazing books written on everything you need to know about St. Joseph. The links to the books are below this message.