“Would that I could persuade all men to be devoted to this glorious Saint, for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him.
It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast, and I have always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good. I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—then he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devoted to him” (St. Teresa of Avila).
Several years ago, someone close to me was facing a difficult situation at work. Without going into details that I can’t share, suffice it to say that “difficult” is an understatement. This person’s career and reputation were on the line. I began praying to St. Joseph for the person’s work situation to be resolved, and it was – no lasting harm done other than a terrible memory.
Why do so many people pray to St. Joseph for his intercession in their job problems, new homes (or sales of old ones) and other difficult situations? Known as the patron saint of workers; the person whose statue you bury in your backyard when you’re trying to sell your house; and, most importantly, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph is someone we don’t actually know a whole lot about – but who is a critical part of salvation history.
In his book “The Truth About Saint Joseph: Encountering the Most Hidden of Saints,” Fr. Maurice Meschler, S.J., shares four reasons for readers to cultivate a devotion to St. Joseph:
- Because he deserves it: “What Joseph did for Christ, he has done for us, God’s people.”
- Because he is virtuous: His “fatherliness, his purity, fidelity, constancy, unselfishness, humility, wisdom, and love … invite us to choose him as our counselor, our provider, and our father in all our necessities, even as Mary and Jesus trustfully placed all their concerns in his hands.”
- Because he is helpful: He understands how difficult life can be. He knows what it’s like to suffer under “want, poverty, and persecution”; he knows both “matrimony and virginity, life in the cloister and in the world, the contemplative and the active live, and has crowned his existence with a most blessed death.”
- Because he is modern: The “monster” of our times is “unbelief, materialism, revolution, anarchy, class and racial hatred.” Who better to help us then St. Joseph the Worker?
I fell in love with St. Joseph when I first saw the movie “The Nativity Story.” It’s not a perfect film, by any means. But Oscar Isaac (now famous for the new “Star Wars” movies) was superb at showing St. Joseph’s silent dedication to his wife and foster son/Lord. My favorite scenes involve his sacrifice of food to save some for pregnant Mary and her washing of his dirty, bleeding feet when he is asleep on their journey.
“My child,” Mary says to the unborn Jesus, “you will have a good and decent man to raise you. A man who will give of himself before anyone else.”
It’s a beautiful understatement describing the man who was chosen to be the protector of God and His Mother. He can protect you, too – all you have to do is ask.
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