St Joseph the Worker Discussion
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 58
    I keep meaning to ask: are there any contemporary criticisms of the institution of the May 1 feast of St. Joseph the Worker? I often read that Solesmes hated the feast, clerics of Rome hated the feast, people called it St. Joe the Communist, etc. But only the past couple years has this been so. Wouldn't it be more likely that jokes about the feast's date come more from wags than detractors? Are we really to believe that any Roman Catholic anywhere thought that this feast was an endorsement of communism? Isn't it more likely that this is the Church's assertion of her own ideas about the purpose and value of work, which she believes are better and higher than those of communism? If so many people *really* *truly* hated this feast--of which I have yet to see proof--well then, shame on them, right? I guess I just don't get it.
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  • Olivier,

    Never heard any criticism of the feast or its placement.

    Rationale for placing it where it was: to highlight the age-old commitment of the Church to those in the laboring classes. May 1 was a Communist celebration, so Pope Pius XII put the day in the proper focus.

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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    Obviously the name is meant to be inflammatory. Monsignor Gilbey called it “Jerz the Werz.”

    The problem is it promotes work in a mundane way in the activity which is supposed to be restful in anticipation for eternal rest in heaven. Rest is in a sense an act both in Aristotelian and modern physics (Newton’s 1st law squares with the 1st way of St. Thomas). It displaced a feast which had been celebrated in various places for three hundred years and universally since 1847, the solemnity of St. Jospeh, patron of the universal church, which had superior Mass and office texts. The antiphons for May 1 are good, but the Matins readings are execrable; the historical account is about the crowds of workers on the day Pius XII declared the feast. More importantly, it displaced Sts. Philip and James from their feast which dated from the later patristic period.

    You cannot impose devotion from on high, which is exactly what Pius XII tried to do. May 1 could not so easily be taken from socialists, especially since Americans historically don’t celebrate it, and while America does not have most dominant culture in the church, it has a powerful secular culture, and it isn’t as if in the church America is a church mouse...

    The fact that it was demoted from 1st class to optional memorial speaks volumes.

    Even the SSPX will refuse to celebrate it, and they are known for the 1962 line (a mistake on the archbishop’s part). Msgr. Gilbey did not, and I suspect that the clergy in England especially who resisted, whether in attitude or also in ceremonies, the 1955 Holy Week, also resisted the new feast.
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  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    .
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,355
    The fact that it was demoted from 1st class to optional memorial speaks volumes.


    This more than anything else demonstrates that this Feast is a failure. Funny how most of the celebrations on this Feast are in the E.F. and it is not in anyway traditional.

    I don't see how Pip and Jim are any lesser example of workers than St. Joseph.

    Here are some links,
    http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/pipnjim-on-may-morning.html

    http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/may-day.html

    http://ordorecitandi.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/ss-philip-and-james-apostles.html

    http://ordorecitandi.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/ss-philip-and-james-apostles.html

    The latter blog has a post on Pip and Jim every year, each also features complaints about St. Joe the Communist.

    Our TLM Parish happily Celebrated Pip and Jim on May 1st including solemn 2nd Vespers. A few weeks prior we also celebrated the Solemnity of St. Joseph with octave...
  • My 2 cents:

    At the instruction of our pastor, we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman, displacing the Sunday after Easter. We then sang Vespers (since it was the first Sunday of the month, when we usually sing Vespers), using the antiphons appointed for the new-ish feast of St. Joseph the Workman.

    I don't know that I would call the "imposition" of this feast a bad thing. On the other hand, the denigration of fathers and work in general has continued at break-neck speed since before the 1950s, and the tatters and splinters of fatherhood and honest labor litter our secular landscape.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    The imposition did violence to the liturgy.

    The thematic problem is that the way it promotes work is not so traditional, and the post-Tridentine devotion to Joseph is mostly unsalvagable insofar as the hagiography goes, and thus Joseph as a symbol of work is problematic. You can, however, hold him as patron of the universal church, since in his earthly life he was protector of Christ’s body, so in the next he ought to be patron of his mystical body.

    The chant is also generally regarded as terrible, except for the Alleluias, recycled from the 1847 feast.

    Norwalk did the Sunday after Easter. Mater Ecclesiae did the 1955 feast.
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 58
    Thanks, all, for the information and history.

    I see now that a Msgr. Gilbey was not a fan of the feast. And, while I appreciate the SSPX, I don't think they should be the final word on what gets celebrated.

    Although I suppose it's possible that the demotion in rank to optional memorial was acknowledgement of utter failure, might it have had as much to do with the restoration of title of patron of the church back to March 19, and the Conciliar effort to both pare down multiple feast days and leave on the calendar only that which is of truly universal importance or observation (which May 1 might lack without the patronal title)?

    Sorry to be so fussy with replies people took the time and consideration to write back to a discussion I started. I suppose I just think (a)the church can do what it wants, as it always has, except now we all have old books and websites and feel free to criticize--which might not be necessarily bad, just different--and (b)it's a shame that we are unwilling accept the church's attempt at embracing labor: "nice try, but we're not buying it."

    Another can o' worms while I'm at it, for Matthew, who has been so helpful with his replies (that's what helpfulness will get you!):
    the post-Tridentine devotion to Joseph is mostly unsalvagable insofar as the hagiography goes

    What do you mean? Is it the change from elderly man to young model father? And was there any pre-Tridentine devotion to Joseph?
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    I have also heard criticisms of this feast, both modern criticisms and in the past as well.

    Most of them revolve around 1) the praise of work as an end, not a means 2) a misplaced emphasis in the collects.

    I'm sure there are others, but I haven't dug in enough to see them.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    I mention the SSPX because you know it is really bad when they publicly stand against the archbishop liturgically. The Naughty Nine, who are the sedevacantists of a sort, were expelled in the 1980s and the Anglo-American usage of the pre-Pian rites was part of it. (It really was about control, and no one did completely right, long story short.) So the liturgical choices have a certain association, and to go pre-1955 or even pre-Pius XII all the way is to risk being accused of being a sedevacantist.

    Mgr. Gilbey was a minor prelate, serving as chaplain to Fisher House at the University of Cambridge, where he served the Catholic students until 1965, because he didn’t want the house to be co–ed. He lived at his club and had a chapel, and he would also say Mass in St. Wilfrid’s Chapel in the London Oratory and for groups that wanted a priest in clear good standing. He tended to prefer “1939” rubrics or so, saying the commemoration pro Ecclesiae (never pro Papa and of course whatever was seasonally appointed, e.g. A cunctis in Lent) which was usually not done in 1962 usage, and certainly not 1967, which was covered in the “Agatha Christie indult.”

    The March 19 feast is the feast of St. Jospeh as St. Joseph, like any other saint. The Paschaltide feast on the Wednesday following the third Sunday after Easter is a separate feast, rather like the Blessed Virgin having multiple feasts.

    Even Trent saw an effort at reduction, which was reversed and then expanded upon, just as has slowly happened after Vatican II with St. Catherine of Alexandria being restored and will probably happen with St. Valentine.

    The problem is not simply that it was reduced. It's that the replacement feast is different and inferior. It also is another example of the post–Tridentine attitude of treating Joseph as a blank slate.

    Speaking of which. Yes, it’s “only” a blog. The name is tongue firmly planted in cheek, even if this contributor is a bit harsh. But the series is accessible and well-researched, and the problems of that will be evident. It is a long series, but not hard to find all its parts. The Rad Trad on Josephology

    That’s the thing, having authority to do what one wants, say as pope or prefect of the Congregation of Rites/Divine Worship, is not a good attitude. Tradition tempers it. The Byzantines may be frozen, but “innovation” is enough to get them to at least pause. So what Ben said about labor. Plus, this gets you the “work of human hands” attitude that we do the liturgy as the work of the people for God which means we lose the view that it is the work of God on behalf of the people through the mediation of Christ, and the priest in his person, with the intercession of the saints and heavenly choirs. I use the quotation to be polemical. I think the new offertory is a different theology in a way and inferior, but by itself it doesn’t bring the attitude shift, to be clear.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    This year, May 1st was the 6th Sunday of Easter, so St. Joseph wasn't mentioned. With Sundays taking precedence on the Latin calendar this year, I suspect few noticed St. Joseph was missing. The east has something of a notice/ignore relationship with St. Joseph, so I found it somewhat difficult to "get into" such devotions personally.
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 58
    That is so clear, MatthewRoth, to the point at which I think I am beginning to understand. Thank you for that!
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    You’re very welcome!

    The East tends to fear his elevation about St. John the Baptist, given Latins have even said Joseph was pre-sanctified in utero, assumed into heaven, and other such things borrowed from the Virgin.

    The lack of notice is why Pip and Jim would be better... It’s hard to ignore red, and from 1955 onward the Twelve and the Evangelists get short shrifted.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    The east went through various heresies concerning the divinity of Christ early on. Consequently, St. Joseph tends to be kept at a comfortable distance from the Theotokos. Is that an over-reaction? Could be.

    given Latins have even said Joseph was pre-sanctified in utero, assumed into heaven, and other such things borrowed from the Virgin.


    I am surprised the west hasn't canonized the Vatican cleaning ladies - they have sanctified nearly everyone else, especially during the pontificate of that notorious saint maker.

    On a personal note, I certainly have nothing against St. Joseph. There isn't much information about him.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    And the attacks on the divinity mean you make mistakes about the BVM.

    Now, the old Joseph is an overreaction, but so is young Joseph... Middle-aged, thank you, and we distorted Joseph over the brothers of the Lord by saying they are his cousins, so Joseph had to be young, in order to preserve Mary’s perpetual virginity against Protestants.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    There is a tradition in the east that Joseph was an older man, previously married, with children. The first time I heard about Joseph as a young man was from a Dominican sister who had read "Theology of the Body." Not having read it, I have no idea whether or not it came from there.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    Might we consider changing the title of this post to "St. Joseph the Worker discussion" or something to make it sound less... horrible... to people who might be visiting the first time?
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  • I'm having a really hard time getting worked up on this one. Clearly my grump-o-meter is stuck on "slow and bewildered" for some reason.

    Seriously- what's the beef? Like we don't have 7,427,904 things that are more pressing when it comes to sacred music...

    I love St. Joseph and no amount of liturgical chicanery is going to change my mind. SO THERE!
  • Oh and I agree with MatthewJ.
    Please change the name so we don't look like such wierdos.
    Not that he said that exactly.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,606
    CharlesW

    Yes, the Eastern tradition comes from the Protoevangelion of St James (where Joseph, upon being selected as a husband for the BVM, protests he's an old man with children), furthered by St Epiphanius of Salamis. St Jerome became the main font of the Western tradition of the younger, virginal St Joseph.

    In Eastern iconography of the Nativity, St Joseph usually depicted away from the birth, as an old man whom Satan is trying to tempt with doubts.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    St. Jerome is the only father to hold that, and Thomas ran with it. Fr. Lienhard, SJ tried in vain to expand that support, but it isn’t there, even in the West. What’s interesting is that although John XXIII allowed the faithful to believe in Joseph’s assumption, the Magisterium otherwise is in tension between old and new Joseph. For instance,Redemptoris custos is premised on new Joseph, but it doesn’t add to it, nor does it reject old Joseph.

    MaryAnn, that’s a big problem within trad communities. They usually promote new Joseph based on one slim 19th century book, or are at least OK with those that do so, and those who latch onto it tend to imply the older tradition means less love for Joseph. I love St. Joseph, and I think knowing the merits of the older tradition is best for that. New Joseph is a creation, really. (I also don’t mean to be a jerk towards those who piously and sincerely believe these things, but it needs correction, and why have the clergy fed it?)

    It also is a “big deal” because there is often a hat-hanging on 1962, which is flawed if you want the traditional rite, because it isn’t all that traditional in the scheme of things. Reverting to 1962 and staying there gets you back to 1964 quite quickly.

    Now, for many on this forum that doesn’t matter. Fine, for now. But for those who do care, how can we say a feast with a fourteen year history, for all intents and purposes, which displaced an ancient feast and another with 300 year old roots is traditional and worth saving?
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  • I think I get the gist of the critique now. It has some merit, and yet I sense a lot of gnat straining. Trads and over thinkers of all stripes fall into that.

    Old St. Joseph, new St. Joseph. Meh.

    Does anyone really think a feast that most do not celebrate is a huge problem? Does anyone really think that rewinding the sacred liturgy to any one point in time is a silver bullet for liturgical perfection? No and no.

    My point is this: folks are getting bent out of shape for nothing substantial. Go for it, it's your life. But remind me- why is this issue relevant on a sacred music forum? How widely does this affect the sacred music of the Church?
  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 58
    MaryAnn Carr Wilson,
    I began the discussion because, with some regularity, I have seen little asides if not digs at the May 1 feast. It has seemed petty and willfully obtuse and thinly sourced. I thought that here, of all places, someone would have an answer.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    I thought that here, of all places, someone would have an answer.


    No digs at the feast. As an easterner, I am not that familiar with it. Most of the eastern churches are not familiar with it. All I can tell you is that in the Latin parish where I work, it doesn't get a lot of mileage.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    There are books that are clearly heretical in intent and purpose and they should be viewed differently. The PE of St. James and some similar books are not canonical to be sure. However, they draw on the beliefs of early Christians and even contain information that believers today have accepted. Where else did we get the names of Mary's parents? One of the Orthodox churches states that,

    "One of the most important books in the history of the Church as it relates to Mary, the Mother of God, is The Protoevangelium of St. James."

    Too bad we don't have all the answers we would like to have. This is an interesting article.

    James
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    At least the old Catholic Encyclopedia article does indicate that there was an ancient feast of St. Joseph the Carpenter among the Copts, in July: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,706
    Which is fine, because we know the Copts had organic devotion to St. Joseph due to the presence of the Holy Family in Egypt. That tradition and the Protoevangelion are probably authentically descended from what was given orally to the apostles, evangelists, etc.

    MaryAnn, what you do with the children is crucial, and more places need to do it, but what rite should they be singing? Clearly your parish agrees it shouldn’t be the Novus Ordo. But why settle for the 1962 rite which was the Roman Rite chopped up en route to the Novus Ordo? Bucking 1962 shows there’s more to tradition than the SSPX (though some get May 1 correct) and it also gets us away from Ultramontanism and a reliance on positive law over tradition. This pontificate has done the opposite by embracing innovation, but for those of us who want the tradition, the powers that be are saying go ahead. Dom Benedict of Silverstream did the old Pentecost vigil, which Mgr. Pozzo said to do, quietly, but he has indicated he is okay with it for years in remarks about its baptismal character, which does not exist in the 1962 form.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    We only want the true mass of the apostles promulgated at that last supper with Douay scriptures, Solesmes chants, Bach fugues, and the 1962 missal, thank you very much! That's how God wants it!
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  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    What's next? A Feast of St. Francis the Environmentalist on Earth Day.
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  • Greg,

    We can't have a feast for a reigning pope.
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  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    We can't have a feast for a reigning pope.


    Hence the purple.
  • Ben,

    Sorry. Didn't see the purple.

    I thought perhaps Greg was proposing a new feast day for St. Francis of Assisi.
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  • OlivierOlivier
    Posts: 58
    What's next? A Feast of St. Francis the Environmentalist on Earth Day.
    Exactly! And why rule this out? (No purple!) Saints' patronages and, in turn, the fondness we feel for those saints--for having faced similar circumstances, or having shared the same professional occupation--have in some cases been known to be based on apocryphal stories, mistakes interpreting iconographical symbols, or minor circumstantial details in their lives.

    I think if the Church can take a popular sentiment or interest which she herself teaches already in a fuller form--"stewardship of the earth" in the above suggested case of Earth Day--claim it for herself and "baptize it," well certainly that's been done before, right? Getting everyone *in* the tent to use an old LBJ metaphor, right? Which is why, in the case of St. Joseph the Worker, although I now understand better the criticisms there, I thought and still think that the effort although perhaps ham-handed was well-intentioned and deserves credit.

    I think that, obviously, if something like this happens it should be done cautiously and have no appearance of desperate pandering. But, again, I think to some extent we are not talking about something "new" so much as we are talking about something which most folks are now in--or at least feel themselves to be in--a position to critically evaluate in real time.

    Maybe it just has to percolate up from the PiPs to be successful.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    A Feast of St. Francis the Environmentalist


    Do you mean St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Francis the anti-American, South American socialist? He's not a saint yet? Just wait, he will be. All the post-Vatican II popes were saints.
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  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    This post deliberately left vague.
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  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    I've never heard talk of there being an "Assumption of Joseph" until this thread.
    I've always assumed he was an aged man at the time of their betrothal.
    I'm quite used to the March feast day for St. Joseph, as it often falls in Lent. :)

    That's about as much precedence as this thread holds for me.
    But, for those who have more interest in St. Joseph the Worker, carry on.
  • lmassery
    Posts: 352
    This is an image from my parish - St. Joseph. The icon is of St. Joseph the worker...the staff calls it St. Joseph Stalin. Tell me this doesn't look like a symbol of communism

    https://lh5.ggpht.com/ikpBYJJ0Rgu9zQloeEVM4xw-c71hBY1_xDtj_gYWYSXUZPcb2bhcCZ4xvuA_eZ5BER4=h310
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,606
    While there are statues in that style from the Communist era, the more typical Communist style is actually more heroic realism than that the mildly abstract style you linked, which echoes an illustration style that was common in Catholic circles in the mid-20th century before Vatican II and is still in use.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    All the post-Vatican II popes were saints.


    Poor JPI.
  • Poor JPI.

    Who?
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    JPI didn't have to deal with the curia long enough to reach that level of sanctity.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    JPI is the most enigmatic of the post-V2 popes. Granted, he wasn't around for long but it is surprising that more isn't known about him. Don't mention his name too loudly or the saint-making machinery will gear up. LOL.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,821
    Pip and Jim


    Okay, digression - this may just be me, but I feel nothing demonstrates a greater devotion to the saints than the level of familiarity with them to use nicknames. I know people in my chapel who are aghast whenever I refer to "Cici, my home girl", but, really - they're not abstract personifications of ideals. They're real, living people who have their preferences and cares just the same as we do. They just happen to have the Beatific Vision. Yes, they are "super-stars", and we should give them titles like "Worker" to call to mind their many gifts, but we should also remember they are good enough friends to us and that they always hope for a closer communion with us, and consequentially, with God.

    </$.02>
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  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    All the post-Vatican II popes

    What about Paul VI ?

    JPI [...] more isn't known about him

    Cigarettes and coffee? => heart attack
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676

    What about Paul VI ?


    Headed in that direction. I think he is already "blessed" Paul VI. JPI, probably not. Didn't stay in office long enough to really do anything.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    People aren't declared saints for what they did as Pope.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,676
    The bar for canonization has been lowered significantly in my lifetime. I have to wonder if some of the current saints would have made it some years ago.
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,867
    I love to poke sticks at Commies. I'm just not sure that Holy Mass is the time and place. Yes, there's more to it, but there IS that.

    Our May 1 was...interesting. The bulletin said St. Joseph, my Ordo said St. Joseph, the other 2 Latin parishes in the diocese did St. Joseph. We have 3-4 rotating priests, and I only have contact info for one of them (which must change). We learned those snarky Propers, were all set in the loft, the server came out: "Today's Mass is for the 5th Sunday after Easter". I said, sotto voce, "Noooooooo" and told people to pick up the Liber Breviors, and we proceed to read the Propers. It wasn't perfect, but I was happy; 2 years ago it wouldn't have been so successful.
  • As it turns out, there's a deeper meaning to the verb operor, which I've just encountered. It can mean "to labor", but it can also mean "to show devotion toward". The adulation of work commented on elsewhere in this thread seems to see only the "work" sense, and fails to take account of the idea that work itself shows devotion to God -- which meaning thus eviscerates the Communist (atheist) celebration of the International Day of the Worker. (One of the antiphons at Vespers calls God "mundi opifex" -- the builder of the world.)