May 1

Friday, May 1st

Good morning, Good morning,

This letter is dedicated to our collegians who are soon to graduate.  God bless them with good jobs that they may be happy, healthy, and holy.  And may each find a wonderful spouse to complement their great virtue.  This letter is also dedicated to our workers in the Lockdown who are concerned for the stability of their employment.  May St. Joseph intercede for both groups.  Let us pray for one another.

In the 19th century the Industrial Revolution with its rigors in long hours (10 hours per day, six days a week), poor working conditions, child labor issues was met by workers calling out for modifications to improve their families as well as livelihood.  Labor unions responded to the issues just mentioned, but so did the problem of manipulations by a new born socialist/anarchist collective that looked to transform America into a socialist system.  It all started to come to a head as the protests for an eight hour day arose in 1884.  By 1886 there were three hundred thousand people, across America, protesting in the industrial cities for better wages and working conditions.  They wanted to adjust to eight hour working days rather than ten.  And they wanted to work for five days a week and not six.  All the while not lowering the amount of money they brought home each week. And finally, they wanted safer working conditions.  Strikes were held in New York, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, and others.  Chicago had over forty thousand protesters show up at Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886 … and one brought a bomb.

The bomb killed seven police officers and four civilians.  Dozens of others were wounded by the bomb or gun shots that followed from the police.  (In the dark of night some of the officers may have actually wounded each other.)  It was the worst day in the history of the Chicago Police Department for officers killed in the line of duty.

My great grandfather, James Francis Day, and great uncle, Arthur McGonigal, may have been young Chicago officers present for the event at Haymarket.   Ironically, both men would be killed in the line of duty many years later.  Their badges, along with the badges of all the officers, killed in the line of duty, are on display in the Chicago police department. Today, five of my cousins serve in the police departments of Chicago and suburbs.  God bless all of our First Responders and their families.

Honor Guard History for Chicago Police Department

Haymarket Affair May 4th 1886

The Haymarket Affair was the catalyst for socialist and labor groups rising in Europe.  The Socialists honored the “Haymarket Martyrs” by celebrating the annual Day of Labor on May 1st.  President Grover Cleveland, years later, would establish the first Monday of September as Labor Day for all the country.  Ironically, the Europeans still celebrate the day of labor on May 1st, while Chicago, the place of the bombing and shooting, doesn’t give it a second thought.

“No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance.”

Pope Pius XII established May 1st as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 as a counter to the Socialist parades.  St. Joseph isn’t just a poetic figure from ancient history but an active agent in interceding for those seeking work or stability in their field of labor.

Artistic renditions for this Feast Day often have Joseph holding the tools of his trade as a carpenter.  Notably a hammer or a carpenter’s angle.  The story of Joseph holding a lily dates back to a legend/tradition in the earliest of times in the Church that gave explanation how Joseph was selected for the duty of taking care of Jesus and Mary.  It seems the young men of Jerusalem were trying find out who was the favorite of God by placing the walking staff’s on the altar in the Temple.  Returning the next day they found one of the many pieces of dead wood with a bloom growing from it.  It was Joseph’s.

Prayer to St. Joseph for Workers

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.)

Video on St. Joseph…

One of my favorite videos for all the family to see.   “The Staircase.”

God bless one and all.  Let us pray for one another.

Fr. G.

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