St. Joseph: A Friend and Model for Us All
By: Melissa Schmid
Did you know that St. Joseph has over 20 titles that represent his heroic virtues? Before I prayed the Litany to St. Joseph, I had no idea he had so many titles. In fact, I knew very little of this humble saint.
A few months ago, I set out on a journey to befriend St. Joseph using the book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Donald Calloway as my roadmap. The book offers 33 lessons that draw upon scripture and the writings of saints and popes throughout Church history. My timing couldn’t have been more fitting; Pope Francis has named this year (December 8, 2020 – December 8, 2021) as the “Year of St. Joseph”.
My desire to get to know St. Joseph developed months before Pope Francis’ proclamation though. Actually, I feel like St. Joseph sought me out. Last summer, he kept entering my thoughts as I was praying. I heard others talking about him. Then, this book “magically” appeared on my coffee table (my sister brought it home after a friend gave it to her).
When you get a gnawing feeling in your prayer life that just won’t leave you alone, you should probably act on it. I didn’t respond to St. Joseph’s poking me until last November when I finally decided to pick up that book on my coffee table.
After reading the first lesson, I was captivated by St. Joseph. I recognized him as a true example of the virtues of justice, charity, prudence, courage, purity, and humility. These are virtues I admire and want to live by. I thought perhaps St. Joseph could inspire me as I learned about his life spent with Mary and Jesus.
As I continued to read about him, I came to know him as a tender and loving husband and father, a protector, and a friend to the faithful. By the time the Feast of the Holy Family (December 28th) rolled around, I was ready to make my consecration to St. Joseph. I can honestly say that St. Joseph’s guidance has led me closer to Christ.
If you were to tell me years ago that befriending St. Joseph would rain down blessings upon me, I may have balked at the idea. Doesn’t it make more sense to go straight to Jesus? Of course having a relationship with Jesus is a beautiful thing. But even Jesus had an intimate relationship with Joseph and Mary, as well as with His disciples later in His life. In that sense, I’m glad I followed Jesus’ example to enter into a relationship with St. Joseph.
Praying with St. Joseph has led me closer to Christ. As the Light of Patriarchs, he reminds me that I am God’s beloved daughter. Joseph Most Obedient helps me to trust in God always. St. Joseph, Model of Workers, shows me a way to live my vocation of love by joyfully approaching everyday work and in my encounters with others.
Preparing for my consecration challenged me to go deep into my heart and face the hard questions about who I am and what my purpose is. As a young, single woman, I have often wondered if I’m meant to be a wife and mother. The idea brings joy to my heart. This desire formed in my childhood; I’m the eldest sibling of four, and there is an eleven year age gap between my youngest sister and me. When she was born, I got hands-on experience of caring for an infant. My mother had major complications after giving birth. She was hemorrhaging badly and was on bed rest for three months. To make the situation more challenging, my brother was an energetic three-year old. Between the baby and the toddler, there was a lot to do.
In addition to the work, I was scared that my mom would die. The fear kept me close to home. I remember going to a sleepover at a friend’s house during this time and waking up in the middle of the night, crying and wanting to go home. I just wanted to be near to her.
As I think back to this time, I remember the work of caring for my younger siblings as a means of bonding with them – a bond that has lasted all my life. I love my family even more because of this trying time. And thanks be to God, Mom recovered as well.
Naturally, this experience from my past formed a desire in my heart to one day get married and have children of my own. I have dated a number of kind men throughout the years, but haven’t met “the one” yet. Thanks to my consecration to St. Joseph, I know more than ever what I want when it comes to my vocation: I would only want to marry someone if he were like St. Joseph, a man who reflects the Father’s Love (Blessing #1 – Light of Patriarchs, pray for us!).
As a husband and father, he honored the holy marital union and adored Christ as the Son of God and the center of the family unit. He provided for Mary and Jesus’ needs. He protected them from harm. He respected Mary’s dignity, and he humbled himself before God, never presuming he knew better than God.
What woman wouldn’t want to be with a man like St. Joseph, and what man wouldn’t want to follow his example? Even if I don’t get married, St. Joseph has taught me to find contentment with whatever God’s Will is for me (Blessing #2 – Joseph Most Obedient, pray for us!).
Through my consecration, I’m reminded that we all are called to a vocation of love – to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Each day, whatever work we must do and whoever we encounter, we are meant to act with love (Blessing #3 – Model of Workers, pray for us!). Our reward for answering the call to love, as Jesus promised, is eternal life.
You can also find a friend in St. Joseph. Let’s take a closer look at the three titles that I referenced as blessings in my relationship with St. Joseph – Light of Patriarchs, Joseph Most Obedient and Model of Workers – as a way to introduce him to you.
Light of Patriarchs, Pray for Us
St. Joseph stands before all fathers as a great light directing our attention to Christ. He is the patron of the Universal Church. The words ‘patriarch’ and ‘patron’ hold meanings of fatherhood. St. Joseph works to protect us and intercedes for us to God the Father. He is a human example of the Father’s Love.
“St. Joseph is the perfect reflection of the Father of Lights, and he helps us to receive the Light of Christ. St. Joseph is a bearer of light. He brings Jesus, the true Light of the World, to us” (Calloway, 32).
Isn’t it comforting to know that St. Joseph offers his spiritual fatherhood to each of us? I find this comforting because my dad lives nearly a thousand miles away. Although I can talk on the phone with him and video chat, it’s not the same as being in his presence. Sometimes, I daydream about my childhood ritual of running to my dad and throwing my arms around his legs every day when he came home from work. He would sweep me up in a big hug. St. Joseph wants to embrace us, and he wants each of us to feel God’s love for us.
St. Joseph reminds us of what really matters – to stay in communion with Christ. He stands as a constant reminder that Jesus is here for us. Jesus wants to fill our hearts with His love and mercy. Jesus wants to shine His Light in our dark world.
Joseph Most Obedient, Pray for Us
St. Joseph is a model of obedience. All through his life, he humbly obeyed the Will of God. He was not a slave to God. St. Joseph had a free will just like you and me. He chose to follow God. He said yes to God’s request to take Mary as his wife and raise the Child Jesus. His obedience was a great virtue that required trust.
“Mary and St. Joseph trusted God and were willing to suffer for their obedience to God. Mary and Joseph were certain that God had their best interests in mind” (Calloway, 51).
Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing to live in a state of certainty that God’s plan for your life is always best? Obedience is the first step you can take to get to that level of trust. St. Joseph’s example shows us that obedience leads to our true freedom and happiness.
Think about it. When the angel appeared to St. Joseph in his sleep and told him to flee with Mary and the Baby Jesus to Egypt, he responded without question. He must have been afraid and unsure how to start a new life in an unfamiliar land. Yet, he remained obedient to God. The Holy Family escaped Herod, and he was blessed to spend his days in adoration before Christ.
How do you feel after spending time in front of the Eucharist? Hopefully, you feel free and happy. St. Joseph’s example of obedience reveals what Christ wants to give each of His faithful followers. Christ’s heart is overflowing with hope, love, joy, peace, happiness and freedom for us all.
Model of Workers, Pray for Us
St. Joseph was a humble and diligent worker. He was responsible for providing for the Holy Family. He also taught Jesus his trade as a carpenter. He stands as a model for anyone in the labor force showing us how to joyfully approach our work. St. Joseph also provides an example of work-life balance.
“Jesus learned the proper place of work in his life through the loving example of St. Joseph. St. Joseph made time for God, family, recreation, and rest. St. Joseph modeled these aspects of human life for Jesus” (Calloway, 60).
Our society places a great deal of importance on work. We are expected to make our jobs a top priority. Everything else takes a back seat leaving us exhausted and closed off to loving ourselves and others.
St. Joseph, on the other hand, approached his work with joy and didn’t let it rule him. He teaches us how to act with love in our daily tasks, as well as toward the people we encounter. Surely, St. Joseph never saw another person as an interruption of his work, but rather as an opportunity to live his vocation to love. Especially when work challenged him, St. Joseph would have praised God for the invitation to love in the moment.
Work is hard. Let’s face it – everyone has days when they feel the burden of work. But work is an opportunity to practice everyday sanctity. Call upon St. Joseph to help you persevere through your work responsibilities. Let St. Joseph teach you how to treat every task and person you face in the day as your invitation to love.
Go to St. Joseph
Now that you’ve been introduced to St. Joseph, get to know him more. As previously mentioned, St. Joseph has more than 20 titles attributed to him. Discover the titles that speak directly to your heart. St. Joseph will take you to greater heights in your spiritual life.
To conclude this blog post, let’s pray the Litany to St. Joseph.