In this Year of St. Joseph, let's grow closer to Jesus' foster father by getting a little handier around the house.
St. Joseph is one of the most beloved saints, whose influence is everywhere in the Church. He’s the patron of fathers, of workers, of families, of house sellers and buyers, and of craftsmen and engineers. Pope Francis has even declared him patron of this year, calling all of us to learn from his example of quiet holiness in the heart of his home.
Yet despite how much we hear about St. Joseph, the truth is that we don’t know very much about the man himself. In all of Scripture, he does not speak even once. He’s mentioned so briefly that it’s hard to get a sense for his personality.
One way to grow closer to St. Joseph in this year dedicated to him is through learning about his profession. Scripture mentions that he was a “carpenter,” or skilled artisan.
He worked with his hands, not all that differently from craftspeople today. In Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis writes,
Saint Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family. From him, Jesus learned the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labor. In our own day, when employment has once more become a burning social issue, and unemployment at times reaches record levels even in nations that for decades have enjoyed a certain degree of prosperity, there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron.
To learn more about St. Joseph’s work, Aleteia spoke to Frank Barber, who has been a full-time carpenter for 34 years.
“I knew when I was 15 years old that I wanted to be a carpenter,” Barber said. He considered studying architecture, but he realized that he wanted to do the hands-on work of building himself, instead of designing things for others to build.
Like many workers, he feels that God called him to this profession and he tries to honor God through his work. He said,
My business is a mission field for me. I try to show the love of Christ when I work with people, to be honest and caring, and keep my word to my clients. It’s a chance to be a light to people. I do what I do to glorify God.
Barber studied carpentry for two years before working in the field full-time, but you don’t have to attend classes to learn a few basics. The first step is having the right tools.
For the amateur carpenter looking to do projects at home, Barber recommended these 8 tools to get started. “If you have just these basic tools in your house, you can do quite a lot of things,” he said.