Work is a source of human dignity, as Pope Francis reminded us when he called Christians to fight for labour rights “work is essential for society, for families and for individuals. Work, in fact, directly concerns the human person, his life, his freedom and his happiness. The primary value of work is the good of the human person since it fulfills him as such, with his inner talents and his intellectual, creative and physical abilities.” (Pope Francis, 20-03-2014).
Unfortunately, as we go from economic crisis to crisis, or witness the rush to profit, and a staggering increase of competitiveness in the job market, it becomes harder to describe our work - when we have one - as really fulfilling. Yet, as St. Joseph the Worker has shown us, work is a path towards sainthood. No matter what your current situation is - whether you are working, unemployed, or looking for a job - there are prayers to ask God to accompany and guide you in your research for fulfillment in your work. Let us pray to Find a job, keep a job, find success at work and face difficult challenges at the workplace… above all, let us pray to serve God and humans through work, and to prosper and to progress on our path to sainthood through work!
Whether you enjoy your work or not; whether you are employed in your dream job or just trying to support yourself (with a high or low paying job), your work is precious, and can transform your life if done with all your heart.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3: 23-24).
You can offer your daily labor to the Lord with a prayer before going to work.
“Lord teach me to make good use of the time you give me for working, and not to waste any.
Teach me to learn from my past mistakes and not let doubt consume me.
Teach me to see Your plan without tormenting myself, to plan out my work without being disappointed if it doesn’t turn out as I expected.
Teach me to balance out haste and slowness, serenity and fervor, zeal and peace.
Help me at the beginning of my work, the hardest part of all. Help me maintain my attention in the midst of labor. And above all, Lord, come fill the gaps in my work.
Lord, leave in each of my labor one of Your graces, to present to others, and one of my imperfections to remind me of myself.
Keep me hoping to reach perfection, so I don’t lose heart.
But do not let me reach it, so I don’t lose myself in pride.
Purify my sight, teach me discernment when I do bad or good.
Lord, do not let me forget that all knowledge is vain if there is no work, that all work is empty if there is no love, and that all love is hollow if it does not bind me to myself, to others, and to You.
Lord, teach me to pray with my hands, my arms, and all my strength.
Remind me that the work of my hands belongs to You, and that I must offer it back to You: if it is profit that motivates me, I will spoil in the autumn like a forgotten fruit. If I only seek to please others, I will fade in the evening like the flower of the field. But if my intentions are pure, I will dwell in Your good heart.
Right now is the time to work for the good of humanity and for Your glory.
“O Lord, my God, Creator and Ruler of the universe, it is Your will that human beings accept the duty of work. May the work I do bring growth in this life to me and those I love and help to extend the Kingdom of Christ. Give all persons work that draws them to You and to each other in cheerful service. I unite all my work with the Sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass that it may be pleasing to You and give You glory. I beg Your Blessing upon all my efforts.
With Saint Joseph as my example and guide, help me to do the work You have asked and come to the reward You have prepared.
Unemployment, job-hunting, looking to switch jobs… all difficult situations, and perfect opportunities to turn to God for help. For example, you can offer to the Lord your hopes to find a job with a specific prayer, that He may show you the way to a workplace where your skills will be recognized and put to good use.
The job market is unstable and constantly mutating: massive layoffs, internal reorganizations, poor working relationships with the hierarchy… so many generators of anxiety! If you have related fears, you can pray for job security, and protection at work.
We all want to find success at work. But what is true success? Discover what the Christian notion of success at work is with these prayers.
Who to turn to when encountering difficulties at your workplace? You can begin by praying to St. Joseph! St. Joseph the worker is the patron saint of workers and work-related problems. Thanks to his job as a carpenter, Jesus Christ’s Foster-Father could humbly and lovingly support the Holy Family, and feed and raise the Lord.
Joseph taught his craft to Jesus Christ, who worked as a carpenter until He began His public life at 30. In his book The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, French Poet Charles Peguy wrote “Those thirty years that he was a carpenter among men. Those three years that he was a sort of preacher among men.” Work - manual or intellectual - is truly a life-forming experience for those looking to progress on their spiritual path!
Here are a few prayers to St. Joseph for work:
You can also pray to St. Anthony of Padua, the Patron Saint of Lost Things for job-related issues, especially to find a job.
St. Expedite is the Patron Saint of Urgent Matters and the Youth: there many prayers addressed to him to successfully pass your exams: he can help you move forward in your career path.
Say a novena to St. Joseph the worker, and learn to apply his humility and kindness to your own professional life. Learn and meditate on the many virtues of this great saint for nine days, or pray to St. Joseph every day!