Saturday, May 1, 2010

For All the Saints: Joseph the Worker

Writing is not physically demanding, but try doing it every day for three or four hours. The first thing you have to accomplish is to put your body in the chair. (There are other saltier words for body.) Then you have to move your fingers, despite interference from your brain. One of my remedies for this laziness (which some glorify as "writer's block") is to read a prayer to St. Joseph each morning before I begin. It hangs over my writing desk.

The beautiful thing about the saints is, they are so connected to the practicalities of daily life. Lose something? Pray to St. Anthony. Have a particularly thorny problem? Think it's hopeless? Call on St. Jude. Can't write? Ring up St. Joseph the Worker, whose feast we celebrate today.

Many things link me to St. Joseph, beginning with my own father (long story). Two Catholic links are St. Teresa of Avila, who had a particular devotion to him; and Dorothy Day, who distributed the first edition of the Catholic Worker newspaper on May 1, 1933, just as the Communists were making their greatest inroads among a depressed working class in America. She intended to show workers that the Catholic Church has a program for them as well. Pope Pius XII followed suit by making this a feast day, beginning in 1955.

Here is the prayer to St. Joseph. I hope you find it as helpful as I do in getting over writer's block or garden-variety laziness:

O glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace:
To work in a spirit of penance, for the expiation of my many sins;
To work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my inclinations;
To work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honour to employ and develop by means of labour, the gifts received from God;
To work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, never shrinking from weariness and trials;
To work, above all, with purity of intention, and with detachment from self, having ever before my eyes the hour of death and the account I must give of time poorly spent, talents unused, good omitted, and vain complacency in success.
All for Jesus, all through Mary; all after thy example, O Patriarch Joseph; such shall be my watchword in life and in death. Amen.