Today is May Day, a day of rejoicing in the middle ages and for centuries thereafter because of the flowering of nature as spring comes to the world and the abundance of summer is not far behind it. And today in our liturgical calendar is the commemoration day of Saint Joseph the Worker; it’s a very interesting celebration that deserves our attention and understanding. Let’s trace its origin very briefly:
As the horror of Napoleon’s bloody empire was ending in Europe, there occurred a remarkable development in history called the Industrial Revolution. A number of discoveries and inventions took place both in Europe and America that gave rise to a totally new approach to productivity and economic and industrial progress. This phenomenon was called the Industrial Revolution. It brought humankind out of the simple life of the cottage industries to the world of the great coal mines and power mills and factories and steamships and railroads and the great wealth of the capitalists and the misery of the men, women, and children who had to work in often inhuman conditions where a human being was seen as only a tool to be used to the optimum profit of the employer.
A German economist and philosopher named Karl Marx wrote two works giving forth his ideas of economics and their influence on politics. He was Jewish, but an atheist, and it was his opinion that the industrial revolution would pit capitalist against the laboring class. This would cause permanent revolution, which would eventually result in a Utopian society for the working classes who would then own all the wealth in each country and would control government. Without the superstition of God and religion, and with the wonderful classless society where everything would be owned by everyone, the human race would live happily ever after. His theories were totally opposed to divine truth and his books were placed on the Church’s index of forbidden books. To make matters worse, when the Russian revolution deposed and murdered the Czar and his family and brought the Bolsheviks to power, Russia adopted Marxist theories as their system of government and thus became a socialist, that is, communist, dictatorship that wrought seventy years of death and misery upon millions of people.
However, even as Russia was going communist, Our Blessed Mother was appearing to three children at Fatima in Portugal, promising that in the end, Russia would be converted and there would be peace. And in 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker to be celebrated annually on May 1, the international communist labor day. Thus Joseph the Worker, husband of Mary and guardian of Jesus, is set in opposition to the godless communist worker whom Marx, Lenin, and Stalin claimed would be the hero of the entire world. Thus today, when communism is just a bad memory for all but China, Vietnam, and Cuba, we honor Saint Joseph the worker whose labor gives glory to God and not rejection of the Father of all ability to work and thus improve our world. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you, Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.