By Amber Kinloch
As we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, I thought it fitting to share with you an old prayer written by Pope St. Pius X along with some reflections. In this prayer, St. Pius X mentions the virtues necessary to employ in our work, the specific faults we’re inclined to commit, and the spiritual mindset with which we should approach our work.
Here is the prayer, broken down into pieces. The complete prayer can be found at the end of this article.
O glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor…
Many times when we look at the saints, we might think, “I could never imitate ___.” Few of us labor for God by founding religious orders, practicing charity on the streets, taking orphans and widows into our homes, etc. Most of us are doing far more mundane tasks like household chores, yardwork, crunching numbers, filing paperwork, making phone calls, tending to children, etc.
Joseph is the perfect model for us. He didn’t travel with Christ up and down the whole length of Galilee and Judea, preaching and partaking in the performance of miracles. He spent his days immersed in manual labor in an obscure village. He is the greatest saint after Mary and yet the most ordinary of men.
…obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations…
To apply oneself wholeheartedly to one’s work takes a significant effort. Boredom, laziness, and distractions all tempt us to neglect our duties. Hence we need God’s grace if we’re to accomplish even the smallest task.
…to work with gratitude and joy…
Joy might not always seem like it’s in our reach, but gratitude is. We can always choose to tell God “thank you!” no matter what happens. And if we do that, surely it will lead us to joy.
…in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins…
We all have a host of sins and the temporal punishment due to these sins to make atonement for. Work done in a spirit of penance presents many opportunities for making remission for our sins as we deny ourselves by staying on task, doing the things we like least first, dealing with people we don’t like, etc.
…considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God…
Our gifts were given to us for a multitude of purposes. Through the exercise of them, we glorify God, mature as human beings, help our fellow man, and more. Labor is one of the primary arenas in which we put our gifts to use whether we’re studying for a math test, mowing the lawn, practicing on the violin, preparing dinner, or fixing a leaky faucet.
…to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties…
Order: To do the most important things first. Peace: To keep our temper in check and to not be in a flurry interiorly, rushing to cross items off a “To Do” list. Moderation: To know when it’s time to be done with a task or with laboring for the day. Patience: To bear up under trials and difficulties and not yield to frustration or discouragement.
…to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self…
Our intentions constantly need purifying. Too often I labor for myself rather than God. I busy myself with trivial tasks because it makes me feel accomplished to check a series of items off my “To Do” list. Meantime, that one major task that really needs doing gets neglected. Or maybe I do a chore at my convenience without regard to how I’m inconveniencing someone else, e.g., by vacuuming the house at an odd hour. Or I preen my feathers interiorly when I figure out how to do something and take the credit for myself rather than thanking God for helping me.
…having always death before my eyes and the account I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success so fatal to the work of God….
Death comes for all of us and we can never be sure when. Jesus warns us many times in varied ways that we must be prepared (see all of Matthew 24-25). All of us will have to give an account of how we’ve used our time and talents. Are we prepared to render that account? Where do we fall short?
All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after your example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death.
All for Jesus, Our Lord. All through Mary, our Mother, that our offering may be acceptable in God’s sight. All after the example of Joseph who faithfully served them both. If we live in this way, surely our work will become a pathway to Heaven for us.
Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker
O glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after your example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death.*
*I looked online and found several versions of this prayer with slightly different wordings. The version I share here is from this particular holy card.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.