St. Joseph and May Day

I can remember reading about May Day celebrations in the fourth grade. There were pictures of children dancing around a Maypole, each with the end of a beautifully colored strand or strip of cloth, or maybe crepe paper. As they danced, the pole would become wrapped in the blended, woven colors, and the children would delight in their creation. May Day was a day of creativity. In our innocence, we did not know of the politicization of May Day; in our distance from Catholicism, we were unaware of the proclamation of St. Joseph the Worker by Pope Pius XII in 1955 (about four years prior to the year I recall reading the story of the Maypole and having this imagination of myself as one of the dancing children on the playground outside our classroom window. I even remember the bare, galvanized pole just standing there, waiting to be adorned).

Usually, I think of May Day about two or three times on May 1. Maybe when I look at the calendar on my computer screen, when I write a check, when I realize that April is past. But today, as in the last couple of years, I have found a deeper devotion to Saint Joseph, probably coincidental with my “claiming” him as my own Patron, not in any small way because his Feast Day is the same day as my own father’s birthday.

Work: by work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis (2:15) to care for the earth (my father’s own vocation and occupation) and to be productive in labor (the dignity of which I learned from both of my parents, and theirs). Work: I would be disingenuous if I failed to mention the falsetto expression of Maynard G. Krebbs, the sidekick of Dobie Gillis, in the 50’s sit-com, an exclamation which was heard every time the word “work” was spoken. Somehow even in his feigned resistance to labor, he reinforced our own devotion to the same. He certainly helped us distance ourselves fro the “May Day” celebrations of the Communists of the day.

And then the hymn, in which we sang at the top of our lungs, in muggy southern baptist revivals: “We’ll work, ’til’ Jesus comes ( three times) and then we’ll travel home.”

The Disciples College and the Mission for Biblical Literacy continue to work on behalf of ministers who need basic skills and competencies for their ministries and Christians who desire greater awareness of our Scriptures to aid them in their spiritual disciplines and their service to others in the Name of Christ. Let us provide for you that which will encourage and support you in your own journey of service and devotion, and in your work.

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