May 2, 2021

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May 1

In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the Universal Church. He also raised the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19 to the rank of “Double of the First Class”. Today we celebrate that Feast as a Solemnity.

In 1847, only the second year of his pontificate, Pope Pius IX instituted a new “Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary” to be held on the Wednesday in the Second Week after Easter. Since it was not during the Lent season, that Feast was also celebrated with an octave.

1n 1955 Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of “Saint Joseph the Worker” on 1 May. In so doing he had to find a new date for the feast of “Saints Philip and James Apostles”, which had been on May 1 since the sixth century. He chose May 11. Pope Pius XII also suppressed the “Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary” which had been established by Pope Pius IX's decree of 10 September 1847.

Why did Pope Pius XII go to so much trouble to designate May 1 as the Feast of “Saint Joseph the Worker”?

Since the late 1800s, the first day of May was adopted by labor unions and Marxist organizations. In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard. As the chosen date approached, U.S. labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day. The ensuing Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago on 4 May 1886 changed America and May Day became an annual event.

In 1889 the Marxist International Socialist Congress, meeting in Paris, designated May 1 as “International Workers’ Day” and established the Second International as a successor to the earlier International Workingmen's Association. After World War I, the Second International was succeeded by the Labour and Socialist International, which in turn we replaced by the modern-day Socialist International.

Is the Church indifferent to the dignity of workers? No.

Is the Christian Faith compatible with Marxism? No.

On May 1, 1995, addressing the Christian Association of Italian Workers, Pope Pius XII posed this question:

“Tell Us openly, under this free sky of Rome: Will you be able to recognize, among the many discordant and be-witching voices addressed to you from various sides, some to undermine your souls, others to humiliate you as men, or to rob you of your legitimate rights as workers, will you be able to recognize who is and will always be your sure guide, who your faithful defender, who is your sincere Father?”

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

Rev. Christopher J. Pollard