St. Joseph the Worker
by Steve Wood
In 1955 the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was created by Pope Pius XII to counter the influence of the communist’s May Day celebrations. Some think that with the fall of the Berlin Wall communism is no longer a threat to free society. For a time I thought that too, until I realized Russia, with its sophisticated and updated ballistic missile technology; Red China, using our Walmart dollars to arm itself to the teeth; and North Korea, unstable at best, all have missiles pointed directly at the United States coupled with extensive plans to wage and win a nuclear conflict. Within the past few weeks Russian TV boasted that Putin and his military have the capability of reducing the United States to “nuclear ash.” As utterly serious as nuclear war is, the ever spreading “errors of Russia” (where the state replaces and opposes God) are even more threatening, since by leading souls to hell the consequences are eternal. The “errors of Russia” even seem to have seeped into the White House.
What’s to be done in response to all this?
Some seem to think a military response is all that’s needed. Even though the United States has the most powerful military in the history of mankind, it alone cannot save us from what seeks to destroy us. Why? The primary attack on our country is one that comes from within: corruption of morals, marriage, youth, culture, entertainment, education, communication, and even the sanctity of human life. Our country has been under a comprehensive cultural corruption for decades. Our enemies cannot externally conquer us unless we first culturally implode. Have you noticed that the cultural implosion seems to be progressing with increasing velocity since the year 2000?
So again I ask, what’s to be done in response to all this?
My suggestion is to ignore the skirmishes on the periphery of the battle for God’s kingdom and try to discern the bullseye of the enemy’s attack. Where is he aiming? What is he trying to destroy above all else?
We can find the answer to the above questions in the last three pages of St. John Paul II’s book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. His words deserve a slow and careful reading. Here’s what he said:
“In human history the ‘rays of fatherhood’ meet a first resistance in the obscure but real fact of original sin. This is truly the key for interpreting reality. Original sin is not only the violation of a positive command of God but also, and above all, a violation of the will of God as expressed in the commandment. Original sin attempts, then, to abolish fatherhood, destroying its rays which permeate the created world.”
Satan is gunning for nothing less than to obscure and obliterate the fatherhood of God in this world. St. John Paul II highlighted the role of fathers in families when he said that their role “is to reveal and relive on earth the very fatherhood of God.” Therefore, one of Satan’s prime strategies is to obliterate a clear and loving perception of God the Father in a child’s heart by destroying earthly fatherhood. Satan is having a field day destroying modern fatherhood through divorce, desertion, preoccupations, addictions to alcohol and pornography, so-called same-sex marriage, and an effeminate culture inside and outside of the Church.
God has muscle, lots of it. Theologians call this omnipotence. He is so powerful that he doesn’t need to go around flexing his muscles. In fact, he often shows his incredible strength by quietly working through what appears to be obscure, humble, and poor vessels – like St. Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth.
At the beginning of the Christian era, God, by directing St. Joseph, managed to put a dent in Satan’s and his dear servant Herod’s plan to destroy the Christ-child. As we move closer to the end of the Christian era, I fully expect a divine replay of the first century. St. Joseph will play a key role in protecting Christ’s children, just as he safeguarded the Christ-child.
Who would ever expect a counter-punch to the full scale attack on the goodness of God’s fatherhood to come from a humble carpenter? Who would expect that this man from Nazareth could inspire men to awaken men from addictions, mindless video games, neglect of family, playboy pursuits, and worship of the almighty dollar? Who would expect that a Catholic carpenter saint could inspire men and young men to again be real men in the midst of a sissified culture?
In my view, Pope Pius XII was right on target by bringing St. Joseph to the forefront of Catholic thought and piety as the “errors of Russia” were flooding the world in the 1950s. The only thing that has changed in the 59 years since he instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is that the need for it today is one hundred times greater.
It’s time for all of us Catholic men to renew and deepen our devotion to and dependence on St. Joseph. I don’t mean doing something sacrilegious and superstitious like the burial of a statue of St. Joseph upside down and underground when you want to sell a house. Instead, why not begin by getting an honorable above ground statue of St. Joseph for your lawn and put a solar light on it to have St. Joseph lighten the night we are living in?
St. Joseph: The New Evangelization & The “Power from on High”
“This patronage must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where … religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and … are now put to a hard test. In order to bring the first proclamation of Christ, or to bring it anew wherever it has been neglected or forgotten, the Church has need of special ‘power from on high’ (cf. Lk 24:49; Acts 1:8): a gift of the Spirit of the Lord, a gift which is not unrelated to the intercession and example of his saints.”
On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church, Section 29,
Apostolic Exhortation, St. John Paul II, August 15, 1989