St. Joseph and The Dignity of Work
The sky shows off a fascinating blend of pink, orange, and blue hues again. The sun is about the rise, and I'm about to sleep.
I can't believe it! It's been 10 years since I got out of the academe and started working. Since 2011, I've worked for 10 companies, at least 15 managers, and 2 people listed on Forbes 30 under 30. I got retrenched once, but most of the time, I work 10 to 12 hours a day. And in 2020 alone, I sent at least 25 applications before I got the job I have now. With this record of work, I know I'd look like I'm an uncommitted, job-hopping millennial. But there's really just one thing in my mind – to find a "greener pasture" that will allow me to provide for my family without compromising my sanity.
The Word "Tired" & Everything That Comes with It
It's been tough. Over the years, I realized that the word "tired" isn't a stand-alone feeling. Often, it comes with a secondary emotion.
Tired and frustrated.
Tired and anxious.
Tired and helpless.
Tired and angry.
Yes, I felt all that. And when the pandemic hit last year (March 2020), I became our family's only earner. And I felt tired and all the secondary emotions that come with it simultaneously. It got even tougher. I used to think that work is only a tool to earn. But I realized I was wrong when St. Joseph came into the picture. He helped me put into perspective everything that transpired in one year.
My Journey of Consecration to St. Joseph
For the past 33 days, I've been reading, reflecting, and trying my best to internalize the insights in the devotional/consecration preparation book called "Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father" by Fr. Donald Calloway. I made it part of my prayer before sleep, and it never failed to console my weary soul. I love the entire book. But the insights from these four chapters really touched my heart and shaped my perspective on work:
· Glory of Domestic Life – St. Joseph had been with our Lord from infancy to adulthood. He lived his life in constant service to the people entrusted to him to love – Jesus and Mary. For the past year, I've been working remotely at home. I see my family every day, and I noticed all their flaws. And in the same way, I learned to see my shortcomings. There were times when I felt like freaking out due to exhaustion and stress. But God gave me the grace to stay calm. St. Joseph showed me that love for the family should be the foundation of work. I can find another job, but not another family.
· Model of Workmen – "St. Joseph taught the God-Man (Jesus) how to work" by modeling the best traits of a diligent worker. He was the Holy Family's breadwinner, which is not an easy task. I know. I'm a breadwinner too. There were moments when I can't help but think about all the places I could have gone and things I could have done if I have all my money for myself. But looking at the life of St. Joseph, I realized that the provision given to me isn't just for myself. St. Joseph felt the toil and exhaustion, but he endured everything for the love of the family he was entrusted to love.
· Comfort of the Afflicted – Work is exhausting. Irate customers, deadlines, and a toxic work environment could break our heart a hundred times before the weekend comes. But St. Joseph had his fair share of struggles. After they fled from the clutches of Herod, he needed to find work and integrate himself socially in enemy territory (Egypt) before he led the Holy Family back to Nazareth.
· Mirror of Patience – Unlike today, "instants" (e.g., instant messaging, noodles, coffee) were not available during the time of St. Joseph. So, he and the Holy Family had to wait and create what they needed. St. Joseph's career and the things he created took time to build. And so should mine. No shortcuts.
So, Where's the "Dignity" of Work?
Looking back at all the application, resignation, and job acceptance letters I've made, I realized that I have a lot to be grateful for beyond the job I had. Indeed, "Hard work benefits the person, the family, and society." My work, managers, and colleagues contributed to my growth as a person, especially in developing patience and skills.
It took an entire year for me to seriously reflect on where my heart really lies, why I do my work, and what are the reasons behind my goals. Yes, the word "tired" could come with a wealth of negative secondary emotions. But now (March 2021), after the hardships and frustrations due to the pandemic and with the help of St. Joseph, I also learned to associate it with a plethora of positive feelings.
Tired and hopeful.
Tired and inspired.
Tired and happy.
Tired and excited.
Tired and peaceful.
It's 5:30 pm when I finished this post. The sky was the color of lemons. For many people, the day is drawing to an end. Meanwhile, I'm beginning to start mine.
St. Joseph: Glory of Domestic Life, Model of Workmen, Comfort of the Afflicted, Mirror of Patience – Pray for us!
Written by Jefanie Genilla, Pure Heart missionary