The feast of St. Joseph the Worker is an important reminder in our modern era of the holiness of work. As the pendulum swings back from the worship of workaholics, we’re in danger of losing sight of the fruits of labor.
In the past few decades, as the Internet changed the workplace, the lines between life and work became blurred, almost to the point of extinction. The pandemic of 2020 ushered in not only remote work, but a faux focus on mental wellness that looked a lot like laziness.
It’s true that working to excess, harming your other responsibilities, is bad, but so is idleness. As we try to reclaim balance, we can look to St. Joseph as our model.
St. Joseph was a tradesman who had a very hard life. He’d walk miles each way to job sites, work in the hot and dusty climate of the Middle Easy, and carefully craft raw wood into finished products using simple tools. He labored during the day, and rested on the Sabbath. Not only that, but he brought his son into his work, teaching him the trade. We can only imagine the conversations that they had. On the holiest day of the week, he prayed and rested as God desires.
Joseph’s example demonstrates the value of work. We fill our time creating products, experiences, and value for others. We then use our compensation to support our family and lifestyle. The virtuous cycle of the economy rewards us for work done well, and we can find a degree of satisfaction in days well spent.
Work is a good and virtuous thing, but we should be ever mindful of how too much of a good thing can have unintended consequences. When it’s time to work, do great work. When it’s time to rest, delight in rest. When it’s time to play, play with your family. When it’s time to pray, pray with your whole heart. In this way, we’ll follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph, who will always lead us to his son.