Solemnity of St. Joseph

By: Fr. Tyler Bischoff

One of my summer jobs during college seminary was mowing the parish cemeteries. Each day I loaded the zero-turn mower and the string trimmer onto the trailer and drove to each cemetery. The mowing was straightforward as long as I avoided hitting any headstones. The trimming was another story.

After just a couple of weeks I had some rather large calluses on my hands. It’s not that I did not like manual labor, but the life of a seminarian during the school year involved a lot more academic work than physical work. My hands were not used to the hard work and needed to develop calluses – to toughen up so I could work even harder.

One of the lessons I learned those summers in the cemetery was the value of hard work. The more we exercise the virtue of industriousness, the more we build up “calluses.” The virtue of industriousness is the good habit of working diligently. It’s not a stretch to imagine St. Joseph, a carpenter and laborer, knowing a thing or two about callused hands and industriousness. Hard work and diligence in the work of his hands would have been virtues Joseph possessed and passed on to his son. Joseph not only taught Jesus how to be a carpenter, but also the necessity of hard work—others relied on Joseph for the materials of everyday life.

It is simply not enough to know how to do something, but you also must work hard until the task is completed. St. Joseph is a great example to all of us of a man who knew how to work and who worked diligently to provide for his family while making beautiful things for others. When we work hard, we participate in God’s act of creation. We take ordinary materials and fashion them into something useful, good, and beautiful. May the callused hands of St. Joseph the Worker remind us that industriousness is a virtue that we need to practice in our own lives.