Posted by: Laura Berry | July 18, 2010

Patron Saint of Workers, Humility, and the Good Kind of “Pride”

Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker:

St. Joseph

St. Joseph

Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.

Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
towards all.

Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.

When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.

(Note: This prayer was taken from the booklet “Devotions to Saint Joseph” by Brian Moore, S.J., printed and published by the Society of St. Paul.)

The prayer mentions taking “pride” in our work. Pride, in this sense, does not mean something bad. Instead of referring to the capital sin of pride, which means giving glory to ourselves when the credit is due to God, the word “pride” in this use means the feeling of joyful accomplishment and satisfaction that we can legitimately experience in a job well done. It is this sense of pride that we experience when we see our children growing up healthy and holy and beautiful — the way a parent feels, for example, when a son or daughter graduates from college.

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that it is wrong to be pleased with themselves when they accomplish something good. Of course all thanks should go to God, who has made us capable of accomplishing good things. But God has made us good. If we pretend that we are not capable of doing anything good, we do God an injustice and commit the sin of ingratitude.

When someone praises us, do we say, “Oh, it was really nothing. I didn’t really do anything that great.” If that is our response, we may be guilty of a false humility that smacks more of pride than anything else, really.

A better response would be: “Thank you! I’m so glad it worked out well!” etc.

Humility does not necessarily mean seeing ourselves as sinful, miserable creatures. Humility means acknowledging the truth about ourselves: we can do and be nothing without God. But we are NOT without God! And so we can accomplish great things! Therefore, true humility demands gratitude.

Bad pride is when we thank ONLY ourselves for the good we accomplish.

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