Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"My work is getting in the way of my sanctification..."

This has been said by many who find work interfering with their sanctification.  How to harmonize work and sanctification?

May 1 is the feast day of Saint Joseph, the Worker. 

So, let's start to harmonize work and piety by saying this prayer to Saint Joseph before starting our work.  It was written by Pope Saint Pius X.

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.

Saint Joseph, the Worker

In the Gospel we read that the Child Jesus grew in grace and sanctity before men. Next to Him, Our Lady was constantly growing in sanctity. And with them was Saint Joseph, the virginal man par excellence, descendent of King David, a man modeled by the Holy Ghost to be proportional to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He is the patron of a good death because everything indicates that Our Lord and Our Lady were at his deathbed, helping him until the very last instant to attain the summit of perfection for which he was created.

In his last moments, and with his sight fading to this life, Saint Joseph looked to his Spouse and Son, the joy and admiration of his entire life; he saw Our Lord and Our Lady growing in sanctity, going up, always higher and higher.

And by seeing them both rising in perfection, Saint Joseph grew in sanctity, going always higher.

The three most holy persons who lived in the humble house of Nazareth were in a constant state of ascension in grace and sanctity.

Imagine for a moment a clock that would count their growth in sanctity. With each second that went by, with each tick-tack of the second hand, one could say the members of the Holy Family grew in grace and sanctity before God and men, until they reached the summit to which each one was destined.

However, the summit of perfection of each member of the Holy Family were different. These summits “loved” and “understood” each other intensely. And in them was a hierarchy desired by God, a hierarchy with an order that was admirably inverted: the head of the household on the human level was the least in the supernatural order and the boy who should obey his parents was God.

It was a type of inversion – an inversion that makes one love yet more the richness and complexity of all order that is truly hierarchical.

On the other hand, God willed another mystery in these most noble complexities of the hierarchical order. He willed that Saint Joseph be the representative of the most august lineage on earth. Other lineages, such as the Hapsburgs, are noble because from them came kings, but what can be said about a lineage from which a God was born?

And God willed that Saint Joseph be a carpenter and a king at the same time. In this way, both extremes of the temporal hierarchy were joined in him. Our Lord Jesus Christ is God-Man. The divine and human natures are joined in Him.

In the case of Saint Joseph, we have a carpenter-king. In the case of Our Lord, we have a creature-Creator. In both cases, there is the union of the intermediary elements of hierarchy by the union of its most extreme points.

Let’s imagine something that will help us to understand this. It is something slightly prosaic, but illustrates the point. Watch someone playing an accordion. He squeezes the ends of the accordion and brings the whole instrument together in one compact block.

Here we see the hierarchy in the Holy Family as a chain of tall mountains, mountains so tall our eyes and mind must strain to understand all they represent. But there’s more.

In the Holy Family we see represented a united hierarchy, an unequal yet affectionate union of the entire social order. In sum, here we see the higher lovingly embrace the lower and say: “We are all one.”

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