Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
May 1st, 2010

Maria Teresa Gaston

Center for Service and Justice
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker
optional readings for feast day
[559] Gen 1:26-2:3 or Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24
Psalm 90:2, 3-4, 12-13, 14+16
Matthew 13:54-58

Prayer to St. Joseph

St. Joseph,
Patron Saint of Workers,
We ask for your blessing upon all of our efforts.
May our work each day be a blessing
Which allows us to recognize the dignity of human labor.
May we see our work as an opportunity
To build up the Kingdom of God.
With you as our model and example,
May we be instruments of the love and peace
Which the gospel calls us to share
In every aspect of our lives.
Help us in our daily labor and encourage all those
Who seek meaningful work. Amen

Obtained at Catholic Social Teaching
and Worker Justice Conference
Villanova University, March 22, 2010

Today the Church gives us an opportunity to celebrate a second feast in honor of St. Joseph and to unite with many around the world who celebrate Labor Day. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect a bit with these readings and with this feast about the spirituality of work.

I have been reflecting quite a bit about work and life-vocations lately. My 18-year-old son is deciding which college to attend. He has been accepted at three good schools to study violin performance. I am mystified by this path of tremendous discipline and focus. He is confident, yet he harbors fears and doubts. Is there something else that I’m “supposed to” do, he wonders.  How does music help the world with all its suffering and injustice?  I don’t often let him know, but I give thanks that he even has these questions.

They are good, important questions, though unsettling.

We can’t entertain these big questions all the time. It is like uprooting a plant – too much is very disturbing and inhibits growth. But once in a while, perhaps during a spring gardening day or a summer retreat day, we can contemplate, how, through our work, do we co-operate with God in bringing new life and healing to our world? 

The words of St. Paul to the Colossians offer something to ponder in reflecting on our work. “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord.”  “Over all these things put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”

The teachings of the Church, and particularly, John Paull II’s writings on work, offer further rich compost for our spring contemplation. I was recently given a couple of small books on this subject of Catholic teaching and work that this daily reflection spurred me to read. I recommend them to you: Catholic Administrators and Labor Unionsby William Droel and Ed Marciniak, 2009, (obtain this through http://www.catholiclabor.org/NCL.htm ) and Pope John Paul II’s Gospel of Work with Introduction and Commentary by William Droel, Twenty-Third Publications, 2008.  The first book is a small treasure of practical Catholic advice filled with examples of how administrators in Catholic institutions can benefit from a mutual respect model of relating to union and bargaining efforts. The second book is structured to be used in small group study and sharing on the Catholic perspective on work of all kinds taken from the writings of John Paul II. It is filled with substantive and relevant quotes that can strengthen our resolve make possible high standards of dignity and meaning in all work.
I’ll close with one of Pope John Paul II’s quotes that St. Joseph would surely have celebrated.

It is within the everyday world that you (laity) must bear witness to God’s kingdom; through you the church’s mission is fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The (Second Vatican) Council taught that the specific task of the laity is this: To “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and in ordering them according to the plan of God.”

You are called to live in the world, to engage in secular professions and occupations, to live in those ordinary circumstances of family life and life in society from which is woven the very web of your existence. You are called by God… to work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven…

-- Talk in San Francisco, USA, September, 1987

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