Day 8: Novena to St Joseph the Worker

Joseph and his most chaste spouse, the Virgin Mary, did not abdicate the authority that was theirs as parents. It is very significantly said of Jesus in the Gospel: “. . . and he was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51). A “constructive” obedience, which the walls of the home in Nazareth witnessed, since it is also said in the Gospel that thanks to that obedience, the Child “progressed steadily in wisdom, age and grace before God and men” (ibid. 52)

In this human growth Joseph guided and supported the boy Jesus, introducing him to the knowledge of the religious and social customs of the Jewish people and getting him started in the carpenter’s trade, whose every secret he had learned in so many years of practicing it. This is an aspect that I feel compelled to stress today: Saint Joseph taught Jesus human work, in which he was an expert. The Divine Child worked beside him, and by listening to him and observing him, he too learned to manage the carpenter’s tools with the diligence and the dedication that the example of his foster father transmitted to him.

This too is a great lesson, beloved brothers and sisters: if the Son of God was willing to learn a human work from a man, this indicates that there is in work a specific moral value with a precise meaning for man and for his self-fulfillment. In the Encyclical Laborem Exercens, I mentioned precisely that “through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes more a human being” (n. 9)

(from Pope John Paul II)

Novena Prayer to St Joseph the Worker

O glorious patriarch St Joseph, humble and just workman of Nazareth, who has given to all Christians but especially to us, the example of a perfect life of assiduous work and admirable union with Mary and Jesus, help us in our daily tasks, so that we Catholic workmen may also be able to find in them the efficacious means to glorify our Lord, to sanctify ourselves, and to be useful to the society in which we live – all as supreme ideals of our actions.

Obtain for us from our Lord, O beloved Protector, humility and simplicity of heart, love of work, and benevolence toward those who are our companions in it; conformity to the divine will in the inevitable sufferings of this life, and joy in bearing them; a consciousness of our specific social mission and a sense of our responsibility; a spirit of discipline and of prayer; docility and respect toward our superiors; brotherhood toward our equals; charity and indulgence for those who depend on us. Be with us in moments of success, when everything beckons us to taste the honest fruits of our fatigue; but sustain us in our hours of sadness, when heaven seems to be closed against us and the very instruments of labor seem to rebel in our hands.

We raise our hearts to you now, St Joseph, to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining for us from the divine Heart of Jesus these special graces and favors: (……)

Grant that according to your example we may keep our eyes fixed on our mother Mary, your most sweet spouse, who silently used to do her weaving in a corner of your modest workshop, with the sweetest smile playing on her lips. Grant that we may not lose sight of Jesus, who busied himself with you at your carpenter’s bench. Thus may we be able to lead a peaceful and holy life on earth, as a prelude to that eternally happy one which awaits us in heaven forever and ever. Amen.

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