Suppose that you served on the committee that debated the choice of the week to honor St. Joseph. What day would you pick? Well, we know that Friday, Saturday and Sunday are taken. What about Monday? It has some backing because it begins the workweek, and, of course, St. Joseph was a worker. What about Tuesday? No. Tuesday is like a Monday wannabe. And Thursday? It seems like the day that we wait for Friday to arrive finally. Wednesday, then. Yes, it has possibility. Thus, Monday and Wednesday remain on the list. Monday, however, captures too much attention as the beginning of the week. It suggests a head-of-the-line focus that seems out of character with Joseph. Wednesday works. Let us go with Wednesday.
Many of us probably already know that the Church has chosen Wednesday as the one on which to call special attention to Joseph.
“There are several ways approved by this Apostolic See by which the Holy Patriarch can be venerated, especially on all Wednesdays of the year and in the entire month consecrated to him.” (Pope Benedict XV, Bonum Sane, Devotion to Saint Joseph, Patron of the Catholic Church for Half a Century, 1920)
I am sure that well-written explanations of this choice exist, but I do not find them easily. Popularly, St. Joseph has received consideration on Wednesday because it rests at the center of the week; it is the lynchpin of days; it is the day on which the week turns, and other such attributions. The emphasis, of course, points to the focal role that St. Joseph carried out in the Holy Family. I appreciate these connections.
Given my opportunity to explain, however, I would say that St. Joseph receives honor on Wednesdays because of its ordinariness. It sits in the middle of the week in the same sense that virtue lies in the middle (virtus in media stat) between extremes. Joseph does not need to be the star who starts things, and he does not need to be the one photographed at the finish. He serves as the faithful laborer who sustains and continues. Remember how Jesus celebrates that kind of worker: “Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes” (Mt 24:46). (Was he thinking of his father?) On Wednesday, Joseph has been working for half the week and he will continue to do so for the rest of the week. Holding up Wednesday as the time to honor him makes sense to me.
I repeatedly and willingly return to the ordinariness of Joseph. Like most of us, he has some talents and he uses them well. He strives to live a virtuous life and to be a loving support within his family. In some ways, Joseph takes pressure away from us. He carries out a wonderful role in salvation history but does not need to be supernatural—just a good husband and father, an honest laborer and a faithful worshipper. I can work towards that level, but I need to let go of pride and ego.
During this Year of St. Joseph, I will try to give a little more attention to the Wednesdays of my workweek. I can seek to be grateful for what I have been able to accomplish and seek strength for what lies ahead. I can recognize my gifts and accept my limitations regarding the task at hand. I can open my eyes to the contributions of others and encourage their efforts as we move forward. I begin to feel more like a “Wednesday” sort of person.