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3 Ways to practice your faith at work like St. Joseph


Jacob Lund

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/29/24

The feast of St. Joseph the Worker helps us discover how the things we believe as Catholics apply in our workplaces and actually make us great workers!

How do we work as Catholics? I began to think about this question while learning about the fascinating history of this week’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker. 

May 1 is celebrated as International Workers’ Day, especially in Communist countries. In 1955, Pope Pius XII responded by instituting the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on the same day. He wanted the world to know that for the Christian, work has a spiritual dimension:

To counter the communist view, Pope Pius XII placed before the faithful the example of St. Joseph the Worker, true model of all workers. Unlike the Communists — who viewed work in purely materialistic terms and removed God from the equation — St. Joseph’s work had an intimate connection to mankind’s religious thirst.

St. Joseph did his work, quite literally, for God. As a carpenter in Nazareth, he worked in order to support the Child Jesus and His Mother Mary. Jesus learned the carpenter’s trade from St. Joseph and worked for the majority of His life as a carpenter Himself. The life of the Holy Family shows us the value, beauty, and sanctity of work.

Reflecting on this spiritual dimension to work, I realized that all the things we believe in as Catholics — the Golden Rule, imitating Jesus, living with virtue — apply in our workplaces just as much as in our homes, family lives, and churches. And it turns out that these things can actually make us great workers and co-workers!

If you’d like your faith to guide and inspire your professional life, as many of us do, here are three ways you might bring your faith into the workplace. Following in the footsteps of St. Joseph the Worker, we can join with the many saints and holy people whose examples teach us to value and honor our daily work.

Offer up your daily work

Such a simple thing to do, yet so powerful! When we really stop to think about it, it’s incredible that our daily work can be a prayer and a sacrifice offered to God. 

We might offer our work to God as part of praying a Morning Offering at the beginning of the day, or we might say a quick prayer right before starting work, something like, “Lord, I offer you this work for the intentions of all my loved ones.”

Pray about your work

Many times in my life, when I’ve tried to figure out the answer to a difficult question, praying about it helps me enormously. In the same way, praying about situations at work can help us figure out the best way to handle them. 

We might ask God for guidance before a big meeting or pray for a coworker or client — especially if they’re known to be a prickly person! And, of course, we should always ask God that our work contribute, even if it is only in a tiny way, to the building up of His Kingdom.

Live with virtue

As Catholics, we strive to practice the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, and charity. Practically speaking, each of these virtues can play a huge role in our work.

We can take a measured and thoughtful approach to problems that arise, trying to practice patience and prudence. If any kind of work drama arises, like backbiting or petty behavior, we can rise above it and charitably “be the bigger person.” We can look for ways to practice justice and charity, and of course be honest and above board.

Practicing these virtues in the workplace will look different for each one of us. But with prayer and thought, it will be clear to us how we can “live like a Catholic” in the workplace. Living our faith at work honors Jesus, St. Joseph, and all those whose lives were a witness to the dignity of work… and it makes us great workers and co-workers too!

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