A depiction of St. Joseph holding a carpenter's square is seen in a stained-glass window in the chapel of St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, N.Y., in this 2020 photo. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker is May 1, 2021. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Speaking Out: St. Joseph a model for youth

By  Elizabeth Gay, Youth Speak News
  • May 12, 2021

The first day of the month marked St. Joseph the Worker’s feast day, an incredibly relevant devotion for today’s youth. There are many reasons to foster devotion to this model of strong masculinity each year, but especially in 2021, a special year dedicated to St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis on Dec. 8. 

Today many young people work labour or manual jobs to help them pay for schooling and rent. This spring I’ve started landscaping full time as I await my return to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College for the fall semester. This sort of routine work has turned me to the strong earthly father of Jesus for inspiration and assistance.

St. Joseph crystallizes as an example of the sanctity and honour of completing a regular day’s work. There is nothing written in the gospels of Christ’s hidden life and no word about the daily ins and outs of St. Joseph’s carpentry business. He was known as “the carpenter” of Nazareth, which means he was known to be good at his job. He did little tasks well. He is a model of strength in the daily battles for youth today. His work as a carpenter was his vocation, and in it he perfected himself and provided for his family. 

Joseph’s example can be helpful to all who work as stewards of the Earth and their fellow men, perhaps those who feel particularly unrecognized in their work or because of the nature of their assigned tasks. St. Joseph’s narrative, or the essential lack thereof, has not diminished the Church’s esteem for him. In many ways it is the source of his greatness. Joseph was silently obedient and grew in holiness by submitting himself to his Father’s will — just like Catholics young and old are called to do. 

St. Joseph is also a model of chastity and strength in the virtue of continence for young people. Contrary to the depictions in early Christian art, St. Joseph was a young man when he became the spouse of the Mother of God. Early Christian artists illustrated St. Joseph as an older man to protect the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity against heresies that denied it. The early Christian art showed Joseph in this fashion to foster the notion of the continent nature of the blessed couple’s marriage. 

However, for youth today great comfort can be found in the knowledge that Joseph would’ve actually been a young man at the time of his marriage to the also young Virgin Mary. His virtue and strength in safeguarding her vocation as the Virgin Mother is astounding. This makes St. Joseph that much more relatable to today’s youth, who really fight against the rampant modern unchasteness. 

St. Joseph’s intercession and persistent example remain a safe haven for those who struggle with temptations toward lust. St. Joseph the worker, pray for us!

(Gay, 20, just completed her third year as a student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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