Joseph: Carpenter, Saint, Daddy

I don’t know if it’s all the Nativity scenes that are around or that really vivid dream I had a few days ago about getting married, but St. Joseph has been on my mind a lot. I love St. Joseph like I love my own father and during the Christmas season especially I like to picture St. Joseph freaking out like any new dad with a newborn. (Although, I like to imagine that Jesus was the most perfectly behaving baby ever, so the Holy Parents might have had an easy go of it.)

When I reflect on Joseph and his role as stepfather to Jesus, two things come to mind: his trust and his bravery. For example, we all know the story how Jesus came into the world, right? An angel came to Mary, Mary gave birth in a manger because there was no rooms available, and when Jesus was presented at the temple Mary carried the words of the prophet in her heart.  Okay, yes I’m exaggerating the Mary-emphasis here but it’s only to illustrate a point: We tend to focus on Mary in these stories. And why shouldn’t we? Mary is the beloved matriarch for the whole world. Nevertheless, adding Joseph’s perspective to that story only enriches it. His very name means “whom the Lord adds.”

Mary’s betrothal to Joseph mirrors Eve’s union with Adam in that women, of their very design, are made to be joined with man in the holy sacrament of marriage. (Religious vows are a type of marriage, too.) Could the Lord have let Mary be a single mother? After all, a man wasn’t needed for her to conceive. I think not. And I think that’s because it’s meant to speak to the sanctity and importance of God’s design.

She does him good, and not harm,
All the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12

Poor Joseph, to have the weight of the importance of an entire sacrament on his shoulders! With God’s grace, he did so well that we know of his actions to this day.

Just envision him, in his workshop in Nazareth working some wood. Imagine his feeling of betrayal when he learns of Mary’s pregnancy, his trust in the Lord when the angel comes to him in a dream, his fear when having to travel with his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem, and the sheer terror he must have felt when he desperately searched for a room to stay as Mary is about to give birth. Imagine the joy and peace that comes from holding the infant Jesus for the first time, the disbelief when three magi arrive bearing gifts, and fear again when he had to take them to Egypt for safety. How he must have mourned for the Holy Innocents when he learned of what happened! Imagine his pride in watching the young Jesus grow up.

Mort de Joseph

He is just and must have loved fiercely to willingly accept his role as protecter and guardian. He doesn’t say a single word in the bible, but his actions speak volumes. St. Joseph was an ordinary man who in his life did what any other man would do to obey the law and keep his family safe.

What does all that mean for us today? Well because he is an ordinary man, he sets a standard of holiness that men and woman should strive for. Most importantly, he is intercessor for those of us here on earth. He has many patronages from the obvious carpenters and fathers to immigrants, the unborn, the chaste, and those in doubt. He has even appeared in a few apparitions .

The most rewarding patronage, I think, is that of a happy death, for tradition holds that he dies before Jesus enters his public ministry, but how happy it must have been with Jesus and Mary at his side, knowing that his earthly responsibilities had been successfully completed.

So while we wish Jesus a happy birthday every Christmas season, I like celebrate Joseph & Mary’s day of becoming a Daddy and Mommy, too.

Litany Of Saint Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Pray for us.
Holy Joseph,
Pray for us.
Noble Son of the House of David,
Pray for us.
Light of the Patriarchs,
Pray for us.
Husband of the Mother of God,
Pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin,
Pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God,
Pray for us.
Sedulous Defender of Christ,
Pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family,
Pray for us.
Joseph most just,
Pray for us.
Joseph most chaste,
Pray for us.
Joseph most prudent,
Pray for us.
Joseph most valiant,
Pray for us.
Joseph most obedient,
Pray for us.
Joseph most faithful,
Pray for us.
Mirror of patience,
Pray for us.
Lover of poverty,
Pray for us.
Model of all who labor,
Pray for us.
Glory of family life,
Pray for us.
Protector of Virgins,
Pray for us.
Pillar of families,
Pray for us.
Consolation of the afflicted,
Pray for us.
Hope of the sick,
Pray for us.
Patron of the dying,
Pray for us.
Terror of the demons,
Pray for us.
Protector of the holy Church,
Pray for us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
He made him master of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions.

O God, You were pleased to choose Saint Joseph as the husband of Mary and the guardian of your Son. Grant that, as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.