Since our Holy Father Francis has dedicated this year to the life and memory of St. Joseph, and since I am the pastor of St. Joseph’s church in Lee Center as well as St. Paul’s in Rome, a few reflections on this saint seem to be in order.
When we think about St. Joseph many of us recall the scripture stories associated with the Christmas season.
The scholars tell us that St. Joseph was more of a listener and a doer rather than a talker since we have no record of what he said in the holy bible. Perhaps because of what he saw and heard he was rendered speechless but nevertheless not incapacitated.
Not being a doctor or a psychologist, I suspect many people have been rendered speechless by much less than what Joseph saw and heard. When told by the angel that Mary conceived through the power of the holy spirit and told again to take the child and mother and flee into Egypt as Herod wanted to kill the child and told again to settle into the town of Nazareth in Galilee Joseph wasted no time in springing into action to guide and care for the family entrusted to him.
Because of this faith, we think of Joseph as a special protector of families today in our troubled times and all the stresses and strains they face.
Additionally Joseph serves as a model for families on the move or families forced to flee their homes due to war or violence and so he serves as a special model and help for refugees and immigrants.
When we think of Joseph, not only do we think of him as father but also associate him with the work that he was called to do in the carpenters shop. Oftentimes the statues in popular piety depict him holding the hammer or the saw, the tools of the trade.
So he is a special patron for working people and those seeking gainful employment. St. Joseph is honored by two feasts in the Catholic Church.
On May 19 we honor him as father and patron and protector of the church. And on May 1, we honor him as worker and provider.
As we honor his memory this year we give special thanks to the sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet who worked so faithfully in our parishes and schools for many years. Their dedication and faithful service is a memory we shall always cherish.