Saturday, 1 May 2010
Feast of St Joseph the Worker
The feast of St Joseph the Worker is of very recent origin - insitituted by Pius XII in response to communist sponsored May Day celebrations in 1955.
Communism may no longer be the threat it was, but the idea of celebrating the dignity of work remains helpful, since it serves to remind us that religion is not a separate part of our life, but integral to all aspects of it.
Perhaps even more importantly, the feastday reminds us of the importance of resting from work.
In our society, the problem is not so much recognising the dignity of work, as of letting it become all-consuming, work to excess. For many, work has become a false idol, demanding ever greater sacrifices of time and effort.
How many reality tv shows after all, are about people attempting to make major career changes? Although in some cases at least, reality tv can it seems be a reality check - just in the last week for example, two women with very young children (in one case six months old) have dropped out of Masterchef Australia because they couldn't cope with the separation from their families. The mystery is why they ever thought they would or should be able to cope with weeks and weeks of minimal contact with them. Perhaps it isn't really that surprising though - Australians work more hours than almost any other Western country. But like all false idols, in the end work can suck us dry and give nothing back.
The example of St Joseph can serve to remind us of the virtue of working sufficiently to support ourselves and our families but no more; of the importance of work-family life balance; and of the hidden virtue of a life of work without excess ambition or undue pride.
St Joseph pray for us.