There are so many reasons to celebrate St. Joseph today on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Most obvious for me is that I live as a Sister of St. Joseph whose heritage is dedicated to and modeled on the person of Joseph, husband of Mary. We believe him to be a quiet man who worked as a carpenter – simple yet noble work – in service to God and his family and as a teacher to his son. Somehow that image remains although he is also named as Patron of the Universal Church for Catholics and has come to the attention of workers the world over since the Papacy of Pope Leo XIII as the champion of the social teachings of the Church. The promulgation in 1891 of his encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which addressed the condition of the working classes, gave a platform for workers that still directs the actions of justice workers throughout the world.
Closer to home and heart, however, is the devotion of my mother, Mary, whose birthday is today and who celebrated each year by placing flowers in church at the feet of St. Joseph’s statue. I continued this tradition in her honor after her passing from this world. This year it would be impossible because our church participation is necessarily virtual, but I plan to go outside later and walk to the border of our land where my siblings and I had forsythia bushes (30 of them!) planted in memory of our lovely mother after her death. She loved those “golden bells” and it does not surprise me that this year they are so prolific and beautiful that they always make me smile.
So I welcome this beautiful month and give thanks to God for the models of steadfast love so present in Joseph and Mary, and my own holy mother.