Teaching Your Children About St. Joseph the Worker and Husband

St. Joseph, Worker and Husband –Solemnity March 19

During the month of March we celebrate the life of St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers and patron saint of a happy death. As I was thinking about this I overheard a teenager say, “Work? I’m allergic to it!”

The value of “work” has seen a bit of a decline in our modern era. To remedy that voice of “the easy way out” and to honor St. Joseph, we’d like to reclaim the value of hard work.

Here are the top ten reasons to ask St. Joseph for help in teaching our children the value of work:

  1. Kids need to work…it tires them out; it releases their hyper energy; it gives them a sense of purpose. I remember the day we were going to be getting a donkey…our two kids and their two friends set out to clean the old barn on our property. The combined ages of these four kids wasn’t more than 40, but they spent six hours steadily shoveling and hauling manure! There we were with masks over our faces, working really hard. There wasn’t a complaint in the bunch because they could envision a great purpose…to make a comfortable home for the creature that carries a cross on its back! (Donkeys have a significant role in the Bible and they really do have a brown cross marking on the skin!)
  2. Sloth is another word for laziness. And it is one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth is what killed the Roman Empire. So, in order not to commit a cardinal sin—WORK!
  3. Work builds civilizations. Can you imagine the pioneers heading out west saying, “We’ll build stores and schools some other time. We’ll do it tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow.” Nothing would get done. The west would still be without cities.
  4. Elbow grease works best! Have you ever noticed that a bit of old-fashioned effort has more value, in terms of results, than the latest, high-priced cleaning fad?
  5. Exhaustion leads to a good night’s sleep. As we get older we realize how nice it is to experience a night of deep, uninterrupted sleep! And sleep comes to those who are “spent” at the end of the day.
  6. Hard work builds character. All the poets praise the value of work as a healthy challenge. (Poets work too!) It teaches perseverance. “”My son, beware of ‘good enough.’ It isn’t made of sterling stuff,” wrote the poet Edgar A. Guest in the early 1900s.
  7. Nothing beats a sense of accomplishment! To set a goal and work toward achieving it is a great feeling. It does wonders for a sense of identity.
  8. If not work, then what? What happens to those who don’t work? Listen to the oldie song “Richard Cory” by Simon & Garfunkel. (Originally written as a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson in 1897.) Everyone envied the rich man who didn’t have to do any work, until the rich man committed suicide because his life was without meaning. Work gives purpose.
  9. St. Joseph is a model for us. We don’t know much about him except that St. Joseph worked as a carpenter and was faithful to God. But imagine what it meant to flee from the wrath of King Herod who wanted to kill the newborn Jesus? Joseph had to take his young family to Egypt where he had no connections, no home and probably no tools either. That must been extremely difficult to start a new business, to find customers and to raise the money for basic supplies. Yet he did it. And apparently there were no complaints.
  10. We were made in the image of God, the Creator (read “Worker.”) We honor God by working hard. And a life of good effort will lead to a peaceful death. St. Joseph will be on hand to guide faithful workers into the Kingdom.

So, in honor of St. Joseph’s Solemnity Day on March 19, why not read this list to your children? Let’s celebrate work!

–Judith Costello. Judith is the mother of two kids. She and her family live on a small farm they call “Sagging Acres” in rural New Mexico. Judith writes for national and regional magazines. She is a catechist, artist and a Secular Carmelite (OCDS).