Today’s feast of glorious St. Joseph is quite modern. It was given to the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1955.
We celebrate Joseph as a patron of workers. No doubt the thought behind the feast was, among other motives, to offset the incorrect atheistic, materialist view of work and workers presented by Socialism and Communism.
May Day had been a civic feast in many places since ancient times and festivals were held.
Rerum conditor Deus,
qui legem laboris humano generi statuisti:
ut, santi Ioseph exemplo et patricinio,
opera perficiamus quae praecipis,
et praemia consequamer quae promittis.
Remember not to confuse the verbs condo, condere and condio, condire, both of which give is "conditor"… one being cónditor and the other condítor.
O God, creator of things,
who established the law of labor for human kind:
that, by the example and patronage of Saint Joseph,
we may bring to completion the works which you command,
and we may attain the rewards which you promise.
When our First Parents revolted against God’s command, the entire human race fell. The human race consisted of only two people, but it was the whole of the human race. In their fall, we fell.
As a consequence of the Fall, man is now out of sync with God, himself, others and nature. We do not live in the harmony that would make the tasks of stewardship of the gift of life and the honor of being at the pinnacle of material creation without sorrow, toil and pain.
And yet man before the Fall had been given labor by God the Father. Man had duties in the Garden. It was our Fall that transformed that labor into toil.
But it remains that at the heart of man’s vocation as an image of God we all have work to do. God, Creator of things, "worked" and then rested and saw that His work was good. This is also our paradigm as His images.
God knew every one of us from before the Creation of the universe. He calls us into existence at the exact point and place in His plan He foresaw in His providence. We have a role to play in God’s plan. We have work.
When we dedicate ourselves to fulfilling our part in God’s plan according to our vocations, whatever they may be in our own circumstances, God will give us every actual grace we need to do His will and come to our perpetual reward in heaven.
He gives us the work, the grace and the glory.
It is hard with our wounded nature and disordered passions and appetites to understand that the work we do in life is a manifestation of both present grace and anticipated glory. As one early American preacher once said, "grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected".
Put another way, God gives us the work and then He makes our hands strong enough for the task. The achievement is therefore both His and truly ours for, as St. Augustine says, God crowns His own merits in us.