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St. Joseph Spoils the Party

Updated: May 17

Catholic feast outshines communist fest

It's that time of year again: May 1 — the holiest day of the communist calendar.

Today, socialists across the world are swarming the streets to celebrate May Day, their secular salute to labor. And with more than a billion-and-a-half people still under communist rule, it promises to be quite the bash.

But there's a rival fete afoot, designed to elevate man and reaffirm the dignity of his work — a day dedicated to contemplating, and emulating, that master model of labor, Joseph the Nazarene.

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

A Litany of Appeals

Communism has been peddling false pledges to "the proletariat" since its earliest days, seducing workers with promises of enrichment and empowerment.

The Catholic Church, in turn, has been sounding the alarm over the Marxist menace since it first began to coalesce in the 19th Century.

In his 1846 encyclical Qui Pluribus (On Faith and Religion), Blessed Pope Pius IX denounced "the unspeakable doctrine of Communism" as a "dark design" of wicked men "filled with deceit and cunning." Describing communism as "most opposed to the very natural law," he foretold that "if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone's laws, government, property, and even of human society itself would follow."

Likewise, in his 1878 encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris (On Socialism), Pope Leo XIII branded leftist ideologues a destabilizing "plague":

"We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy ... strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning — the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever."

As a special point of concern, Pope Leo singled out the inroads socialism was making "among artisans and workmen, who, tired, perhaps, of labor, are more easily allured by the hope of riches and the promise of wealth."

The pontiff followed this in 1891 with his encyclical Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor), in which he warned that any society adopting socialist tenets would be led, ultimately, to ruin:

"The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the levelling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation."

In his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (On Reconstruction of the Social Order), Pope Pius XI slammed Marxist ideology as "an alluring poison ... apt to deceive the unwary," and warned that there was no compromise possible, no middle way to be found, between Christianity and its leftist foes.

"We have ... summoned Communism and Socialism again to judgment and have found all their forms, even the most modified, to wander far from the precepts of the Gospel," he declared. "Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist."

"Those who want to be apostles among socialists ought to profess Christian truth," he added. "If they truly wish to be heralds of the Gospel, let them above all strive to show to socialists that socialist claims, so far as they are just, are far more strongly supported by the principles of Christian faith and much more effectively promoted through the power of Christian charity."

Pius XI followed in 1937 with his encyclical Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism), in which he condemned Marxism as a "satanic scourge," while dissecting its appeal:

"The Communism of today, more emphatically than similar movements in the past, conceals in itself a false messianic idea. A pseudo-ideal of justice, of equality and fraternity in labor impregnates all its doctrine and activity with a deceptive mysticism, which communicates a zealous and contagious enthusiasm to the multitudes entrapped by delusive promises."

Pointing to communism's 20-year domination of the Soviet Union, the pontiff unmasked the movement as "collectivistic terrorism."

Mustering Marxist Recruits

Despite papal warnings, for a century communism advanced, winning hearts among those frustrated by their plight. Workmen were drawn by the movement's anger, which echoed their own; yearning for a leveling of hierarchies, they welcomed the prospect of "no gods, no masters" as balm to their wounded pride.

One doorway to communist affinity was the socialist-inspired International Workers' Day — otherwise known as May Day — which debuted on May 1, 1889.

Lenin did much to popularize May Day, using propaganda tracts to champion the holiday and its celebrants.

"Leaving the stifling factories they march with unfurled banners, to the strains of music, along the main streets of the cities, demonstrating to the bosses their continuously growing power," the communist leader enthused, almost two decades before his revolution. "They assemble at great mass demonstrations where speeches are made recounting the victories over the bosses during the preceding year and lay plans for struggle in the future. Under the threat of strike the bosses do not dare to fine the workers for not appearing at the factories on that day."

Co-opting the Communists' Party

At the time of Pope Pius XI's pontificate, communism had been surging for almost a century. From 1848, when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels shook the world with their release of The Communist Manifesto, to 1917, when the Bolsheviks seized Russia and overthrew the Christian order, Marxist gains were nothing short of phenomenal.

In 1937, Pius XI took stock of where the movement stood, diagnosing it as much more than a political pestilence. Communism, he understood, was wicked in every way, and sprang from sheer depravity of soul. "The evil we must combat," he noted, "is at its origin primarily an evil of the spiritual order."

To better fight this preternatural scourge, Pope Pius chose to enlist the aid of St. Joseph, proclaiming:

"We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of their hands. He won for himself the title of 'The Just,' serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social life."

Eighteen years later, his successor went further still.

In an address to the Association of Italian Christian Workers on May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII

reflected on the lack of Catholic opposition to communist machinations:

"Unfortunately, the enemy of Christ has been sowing discord ... for a long time, without always and everywhere encountering sufficient resistance from Catholics. Especially in the working class it has done and is doing everything to spread false ideas about man and the world, about history, about the structure of society and the economy. It is not uncommon for the Catholic worker, due to a lack of solid religious training, to find himself disarmed when similar theories are proposed to him; he is not capable of responding, and sometimes even allows himself to be contaminated by the poison of error."

With an eye to reversing such lethargy, Pope Pius reaffirmed St. Joseph as a model for emulation and devotion, encouraging workmen to honor him "as the high example and invincible defender of their ranks."

"[N]o worker was ever so perfectly and deeply penetrated by it [the Holy Spirit] as the foster Father of Jesus, who lived with Him in the closest intimacy and community of family and work," the pontiff declared. "Thus, if you want to be close to Christ, We also repeat to you today 'Ite ad Joseph ': Go to Joseph!"

To stanch the flow of workmen into communist ranks, Pius XII proclaimed St. Joseph the "Patron of Workers," and introduced the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, a Catholic corrective to the anti-religious fervor of May Day.

Nearly seven decades later, now with a flock more than 1.3 billion strong, the Church continues to mark the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Each year, as Marxists revel in the materialism of May Day, Catholics celebrate the first of May by honoring the humble example of Joseph the Nazarene.

Reflecting on the saint and his relation to work, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, writes: "When he became flesh, Jesus sanctified human work and elevated it to a level of greatness that did not exist prior to his Incarnation. Though divine, God humbled himself, became a man, and worked like a man. In his humanity, he learned how to work as a man by imitating the example of his earthly father, St. Joseph."

"St. Joseph," he adds, "is the model workman."

Writer, editor and producer Stephen Wynne has spent the past seven years covering, from a Catholic perspective, the latest developments in the Church, the nation and the world. Prior to his work in journalism, he spent eight years co-authoring “Repairing the Breach,” a book examining the war of worldviews between Christianity and Darwinism. A Show-Me State native, he holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and an Executive MBA from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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5 commenti

02 mag

Thank-you for using the Word built in feature of text to spoken word. Since it’s a built in feature of most word software, it’s not an ‘enhancement’ anymore and certainly should not add additional costs except the one time cost of turning it on when setting up your software.

Mi piace

Thanks for the option to hear the article, I find the blue print on the background difficult to read.

Mi piace

02 mag

I love St Joseph! He was a mystic who was very aware and listened to his interior world especially his dreams! He was great at discernment and took ACTION saving the lives of Mary and Jesus.

Mi piace

Great article. St Joseph has been such an underappreciated Saint. Yet, he is the perfect role model for humanity. His kindness and gentleness have nothing to do with being weak, yet weak humans sometimes label him as such. A big mistake. We need more honouring of Saint Joseph in our Church and in the world in general.

Mi piace

Thank you Stephen, I needed this today. St. Joseph, protect our Church and our world.

Mi piace
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