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Sunday, March 19, 2006

St. Joseph

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and as such, I thought it appropriate to write something about him tonight.

Many years ago, my Mother told me to pray to St. Joseph because he is the patron of women alone. This was how she put it, and I think that's because she saw herself as "alone" after her divorce from my Dad.

I prefer to put it differently...St. Joseph is the patron of the dying, workers, and for single women. Why the three are connected kind of scares me, but at least we singles know we won't die alone.

About St. Joseph. Consider this saint, back when he was a man here on earth. I've heard different things, so I don't know it all, but of course what we all know is that he is the foster father of Jesus and husband to ever-virgin Mary.

Consider this man, betrothed to Mary, who was 15 at the time. Betrothal was like engagement but a step closer, in that they are considered to be married although it's not formal. Then Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant, and as their marriage has not been formalized, nor have they had relations, consider the blow this must have been to a man who thought the world of his bride! Consider how he had held his marriage vows sacred, even unspoken, and for his bride to "betray" him in such a fashion! In the culture in those days, women were stoned for such an act.

Joseph, as hurt as he was, as betrayed as he felt, decided to divorce her. (Note the term "divorce", lending to the idea that they were already married in their culture). And yet, Joseph was so gentle in manner that he wanted to divorce her quietly so as to cause no further scandal. He knew he would always bear the scars, the brunt of gossip, but he was willing to accept that in order for this woman and her child to live.

Then an angel appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that he was chosen, and that he was to take Mary as his wife and raise this child as his own. Joseph did not question this Divine Revelation, but obeyed. Through the Gospel of St. Luke, we see how he cared for Mary and her unborn child, how he worked to provide for his family. Joseph, without doubt, was a man of God. He took this poor girl under his wing, married her when others would have killed her in a brutal way, and whisked them to Egypt to preserve them from the evil designs of Herod.

He went on to raise Jesus in the only way he knew...as a simple Jewish carpenter. We don't know what happened to Joseph. It is thought that he died before Jesus began his ministry as he was not present (or mentioned) at the Wedding at Caana, nor was he present at the Crucifixion. Jesus "gave" Mary to John, and all of us, indicating that she was alone in the world without her only son, Jesus.

I've known these things about St. Joseph for a long time, but he hasn't always been "real" to me. You understand how it is, when you learn of someone but until you meet them, they are somewhat two-dimensional. Well, until recently, St. Joseph has been more one-dimensional, only words on a page.

But I've felt drawn to him, purchased a novena candle with his image, and I even have a third class relic which remains near me. I pray to St. Joseph to help me in my work, and I pray to him to keep me safe as a single woman.

Last Monday, when the Twin Cities was hit with a mammoth snowstorm (mammoth mostly due to timing and the fact that people can't drive), while on my way to work in the parking lot that used to be a road, I believe it was St. Joseph who urged me to turn my car around and go home. I argued, thinking that I needed to get to work, Mondays are always terrible, and with all the snow, it would be worse. But that urge to turn around, and the peaceful feeling that "It'll be ok, just go home, let God handle it."

So I went home, I felt stupid, but I called in. And when I went back to work on Tuesday, the roads were still bad but I had only 3 voice mails, none were urgent, and two were from over the weekend.

This weekend, I did my taxes, after much delay due to lack of documentation (lost an important form), forgot my calculator at work, etc. But Saturday morning, I knelt, offered prayers and requested the intercession of St. Joseph to help me, especially because I'd made an error I didn't think I could afford. I lit my novena candle to St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother (Our Lady of Grace), and placed them on my table.

I don't have an earthly father anymore, and I doubt he would have been able to assist me with this, anyway. And although my Mom is living, she has never done taxes as a homeowner. So I requested help from our foster Father and our Blessed Mother, and as it was, I have never so calmly done my taxes. And the good news is that my error did not cost as much as I thought it did, and so I thank St. Joseph publicly for helping me with such a small matter.

St. Joseph has proven to be willing to assist in the smallest matters. Request his powerful intercession, and rest easy, knowing that in heaven, you have a powerful foster father; an ally in your corner.

6 comments:

Our Word said...

Beautifully put, Julie. We're all lucky to have St. Joseph to turn to, and I think he has a very warm spot in his heart for loyal friends like you who do.

Mitchell

Ray from MN said...

Father Benedict Groeschel has had some interesting things to say about St. Joseph, "the carpenter."

It is his opinion, and it makes sense to me that there wouldn't have been a lot of work for a carpenter shop in poverty stricken Nazereth. Anybody that needed hutches for the storage of collectibles, coffee tables or magazine racks would have built their own, or done without.

Father Benedict theorizes that St. Joseph, and his Son, Jesus, were more likely to have been construction workers, likely engaged by the Romans who were in the process of building the large port city of Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast.

Their skills would more likely to have been along the lines of excavations, construction framing, stone and brick work and roofing. Finished carpentry work and sculpture would most likely have been done by artisans from throughout the Roman Empire.

This also changes the wimpy, skinny image of Jesus into a man with a lot of strength, who was more able to endure the wounds inflicted on Him during His Passion and Death on the Cross.

Our Word said...

St. Joseph has also been called upon to help people sell their houses. There is some myth that has grown up around it, such as burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down in the yard. But the important thing here is really faith and prayer. We prayed to St. Joseph when we sold our two homes and not only did they sell quickly, but for more than we anticipated.
I also pray to St. Joseph whenever we need to fix something around the house or when some mechanical thing or another isn't working. This, again, for the reasons stated in the comment by Ray from MN.
St. Joseph, indeed, is an all-purpose helper.
Judith

Anonymous said...

I heard on Relevant Radio (may have been Drew Mariani's program on 3/20) that St. Joseph is the "all-purpose" saint. Not sure who to pray too? Give St. Joe a try. I recently prayed the 9-day Novena to St. Joseph for strength during my job hunt. Do I have a new job? No, but I'm certainly a lot calmer about the whole process. Thanks, St. Joseph.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

My Father just died. He had a strong devotion to St. Joseph. The Mass of Christian burial for my dad was on the Feast day of Saint Joseph. I cannot think a more fitting tribute to Saint Joseph. Your writings about Saint Joseph are helpful to me at this time. Thank you.

Pax et Bonu,

Katie

Adoro Te Devote said...

Katie,

My heart just goes out to you! I do offer you my sincerest condolences for your loss. I lost my own father in '95 so believe me when I tell you I have an idea what you must be feeling.

Do continue to pray to this wonderful Saint, and I am sure he will intercede for you and with you in your grief. I will keep you and your family (and your father) in my prayers.

God bless you!