Today, on the first of May, we observe Labor Day. We Christians place the celebration under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker. We observe such an important day with initiatives that tend to emphasize the importance and value of the work by which the human person, transforming nature and adapting it to his needs, realizes himself as a human being.

The Lord’s invitation to subdue the earth (cf. Gen 2:28), that we find at the beginning of the history of salvation, holds a definitive and contemporary importance. Creation is a gift that God entrusts to the human being so that by carefully cultivating and safeguarding it, it can supply his needs. From our work comes the “daily bread” that we pray for in the Our Father.

One can say that through his work the human person becomes more human. This is why industriousness is a virtue. For industriousness effectively to permit the person to become more human, it must always be joined with the social disposition of work. Only in this way will we protect the inalienable dignity of the person and the human and social value of the work that is done. To the watchful protection of St. Joseph the Worker we entrust those who belong to the great family of work in every place in the world.

Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady a favourite of popular devotion. In accord with a longstanding tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a “Marian” month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives!

May it really be a month of intense prayer with Mary! This is the wish I wholeheartedly formulate for each of you, Brothers and Sisters, recommending to you once again the daily prayer of the Rosary. It is a simple and repetitive prayer but very profitable for drawing us into the mysteries of Christ and of his and our Mother. It is also a way of praying that the Church knows is pleasing to Our Lady. We are invited to make use of it, especially in the more difficult moments of our earthly pilgrimage.

Beginning the month of Mary, I invite all of you to join with me in praying for workers, especially those who experience difficulties in the workplace. We also need to intensify our confident and unceasing prayer for peace in the Holy Land where we hope that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, who are so dear to me, will come to live in security and serenity. May the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Joseph, her Spouse and the Guardian of the Redeemer, obtain it for us…

– Excerpted from May 1, 2002 General Audience.