WDTPRS: S. Ioseph Opificis, sponsi B. Mariae Virg., confessoris

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:
concede propitius;
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:
grant, propitiously;
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.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. avecrux says:

    Thank you for including the beautiful artwork of Michael O’Brien in your post. “The New Exodus” is my favorite of his paintings.

  2. Amy says:

    Happy feast day to my son, and all men named after this beloved Saint! FRZ, I love the picture you used. I really enjoy his artwork.

  3. Geremia says:

    Thanks for the explanations of the Latin in the collects! They have been very instructive.

  4. It might be mentioned that this collect is the same in the 2002 MR (judging from my Liturgia Horarum).

  5. Jeremy L. says:

    This can get rather confusing, but I’d like to proffer the following question with the hope that someone might have some insight into the matter. (N.B. What follows has *nothing* to do with the primary “Feast of St. Joseph” celebrated on March 19th…except insofar as a *second* feast day for St. Joseph, one *not* in Lent, was motivated by the March feast’s placement within Lent and all the consequent liturgical limitations this implied.):

    It seems that some traditionalist Catholic groups, while nevertheless willingly moving the pre-1955 feast day of “St. Joseph, Husband of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church” to May 1st and referring to it *additionally* as “Feast of St. Joseph the Worker”, continue to use the traditional pre-1955 propers for this (now defunct) “Universal Patronage” Feast — a feast day that had been celebrated, previous to 1955, on the Wednesday of the Second Week after Easter Octave (at least as of the 19th century, and — apparently — prior to that, semi-universally, on the Sunday thereafter).

    Was there perhaps a short period of time (maybe a year — 55 to 56?) where the Holy See had merely changed the *date* of the traditional feast to May 1st (and included the additional appellation of “Worker”) *prior to* its instituting of a brand NEW feast with entirely *new* propers (and the exclusive use of the appellation “St. Joseph Worker”)?

    While all of my post-1955 traditional Missals include the entirely new feast with new propers, I’ve noticed at least one website (run by those against the 1955 “Bugnini-inspired” reforms) do just as I have described. Citing Pius XII as their authority, they basically *transfer* to May 1st the now DEFUNCT traditional feast day (previously celebrated on the Wednesday two weeks after Easter Octave — with its admittedly *breathtakingly beautiful* propers and wonderfully chosen lessons/readings), but without so much as *mentioning* Pius XII’s institution of basically a brand NEW feast day, with new propers (and the exclusion of any appellation but that of “St. Joseph the Worker”).

    I’ve also noticed that some sources give the date for the change as 1955, while others give it as 1956. This might be further reason for thinking there were two stages to the change that took place. (All of this, of course, is pre-1960; it has nothing to do with anything post-Pius XII.)

    Thanks to anyone who can help!

  6. Seminarian says:

    Beautifully said, Father.

  7. Indelible Inkstain says:

    :) Thank you Father

  8. Rubricarius says:

    Jeremy L,

    The Solemnity of St. Joseph was replaced completely by the ‘Worker’ feast in 1956. There was never any question of the traditional feast being celebrated on May 1st, SS Philip and James’ day. The Solemnity of St. Joseph had been introduced into the Universal Kalendar in 1847 as the ‘Patronage of St. Joseph’ to be celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter as a double of the second class. In 1870 it was raised to a double of the first class and given an octave. In 1911 Pius X made it a primary double of the first class renaming it ‘Solemnity’ and moved it to the third Wednesday in 1913. BTW the 19th March feast did have an octave for twenty-two days between the 2nd July 1911 and 24th July 1911 – never of course being actually celebrated!

  9. Jeremy L. says:

    Thanks, Rubricanus, for the input.

    Oddly enough, there appear to be a few rather significant discrepancies amongst the resources to which I’ve now had recourse regarding this issue, as well as regards the history of the respective timings for calendar changes (over the centuries) apropos of the previous Feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph.

    In any event, many thanks for taking the time and energy to respond!


  10. Jeremy L. says:

    P.S. My sincere apologies for any confusion, but, in my immediately preceding missive, the one in which I refer to calendar changes “over the centuries”, I do not merely mean to refer to St. Joseph’s “Patronage” feast *properly so-called* (it having been given that appellation only as of the 19th century) but that antecedent feast which utilized substantially the same propers.

    Mea culpa!

  11. Rubricarius says:

    Jeremy L.,

    I saw somewhere notes and dates of the history of the feast before it entered the Universal Calendar. Alas, I can no longer find this information but if my memory serves me (which it probably doesn’t) I think the earliest reference is in the Carmelite calendar.

  12. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    The feast of Joseph the Worker was (relatively) slow to receive a proper Mass and Office. Instituted in 1955, it took over a year for the propers to appear (1956). At the time, it seems there was some hesitation/lack of acceptance of the feast in some circles because it displaced the ancient apostolic feast of Philip and James, which subsequently had to be moved to the next free day…May 11! It was highly unfortunate, in my opinion, to move such an ancient feast. Bizarrely, the 1969 Calendar stuck to the principle of moving the apostles to the next free day, so they wound up on May 3, moved because of the now optional feast of Joseph the Worker.

    The Office of Joseph the Worker isn’t, I’d say, a masterpiece of liturgical composition; one could also argue it didn’t merit First Class rank (which means it can displace a Sunday of Easter – a tad much).

  13. Jeremy L. says:

    THANK YOU, Dr. Fratantuono!! FINALLY, someone has been able to explain the oddities I’ve been noticing and openly wondering about! :-)

    I agree with your other comments, as well. It seems pretty clear to me that the *relatively* clunky, prosaic Gospel choice along with proper prayers of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (as of 1956) SIMPLY PALE in comparison to the incomparable depth to found in the truly MAJESTIC proper prayers and BRILLIANTLY chosen lesson & Gospel selections of the now defunct “Feast of St. Joseph Husband of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church”. (As a reminder to all: the latter, defunct feast was entirely extinguished upon the full implementation of the new Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.) That’s *no* excuse for disobedience, I realize, but I do feel it is quite a shame that such a deeply mystical, breathtaking Mass (centuries-old in terms of substance) has (at least as of now) been relegated to the dustbin of history — being neither present in the OF or the authorized version of the EF of the Roman Rite nor, obviously, in any other rite of the Catholic Church.

    Thanks again, Doctor, for taking the time to share such terribly interesting details (well, interesting to me at any rate!).

  14. Jeremy L. says:

    I’m not sure how worthwhile any self-correction may be in terms of the actual interests of those who may be following the discussions found on WDTPRS, but I thought I’d better do so, in any event.

    In the post immediately preceding this one I lamented the consignment to the “dustbin of history” of what truly is a *beautiful*, *majestic* Mass, viz., that one utilized for celebrating the pre-1955 Feast of the Universal Patronage of St. Joseph. Well, I was, very happily, *incorrect* about the propers/readings of said Mass having been abolished!

    While the Feast *per se* is indeed gone (i.e., it isn’t officially authorized in any form of any rite that I know of), the *Mass* itself — all the propers, lesson/Gospel, etc. — is still (Deo gratias!) entirely available for celebration as a *Votive* Mass for Wednesdays in honor of St. Joseph.

    To those whom may have read my previous post and were lead astray, I’m very sorry. That said, I’m very glad that this beautiful Mass is allowed in some form, even if no longer mandated.

    By the way, this also happily affords an opportunity for those with 1962 Missals to compare/contrast for themselves the relative majesty and potential for evoking the “mystagogical” of (a) the propers/lessons, no longer mandated, still able to be chosen in the EF as a Votive Mass on Wednesday in honor of St. Joseph with (b) the new propers instituted in ’55-56 for Pius XII’s Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. *Virtually speaking*, the latter feast served to “replace” the former Mass as used to celebrate the now defunct Feast of “St. Joseph, Husband of Mary and Universal Patron of the Church”. (I am, for convenience sake, speaking loosely when I refer to one “replacing” the other; please see my previous posts for more exact language about what actually took place).

    Anyhow, cheers to the very few (if any!) out there who (i) are reading this, (ii) are not already very familiar with all such details, *and* (iii) are nevertheless somewhat interested in the topic!


  15. Joe bis says:

    I had the grace again to visit St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal on the feast of St Joseph. What a peaceful place!
    Please pray for the Jesuit novices of Canada (both provinces) who set off on their month-long pilgrimages on May 1. Please ask St Joseph to look after these young men seeking to do the will of the Father.

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