January brings a promise of a new year, of a new chance, of remembrances and resolutions. So if you’re in the process of looking for resolutions as a Catholic father, I’d suggest one more: develop a devotion to St. Joseph. Develop a personal relationship with St. Joseph, because as Catholic fathers, we will find no better friend.
The question is often asked, “Why is St. Joseph mentioned so little in the Gospels?” The Gospels do not record a single word directly spoken by St. Joseph. And yet, perhaps this lack of voice speaks volumes. St. Joseph listened carefully to God’s agents, and then faithfully and boldly executed God’s commands.
As Pope Leo XIII wrote in Quamquam Pluries:
“…In giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life’s companion, the witness of her maidenhood, the protector of her honor, but also…a participator in her sublime dignity. And Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God…
…he guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch’s jealousy, and found for Him a refuge; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitternesses of exile he was ever the companion, the assistance, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus…”
The Church teaches that, as Mary is due a special veneration higher than any of the saints, called hyperdulia, St. Joseph is due the next level of veneration, called proto-dulia. St. Joseph is due honor surpassing all other saints except Our Lady.
That being said, there is a parallel between St. Joseph’s calling and the calling of every Catholic father. We fathers are called by God to do much the same things that St. Joseph did: recognize who and what the enemies are, and protect our children from these forces and influences; be a loyal and faithful companion of our wives; support our families in a way that glorifies God; and recognize that the hardships and suffering that come with fatherhood help us on the road to perfection.
Men in history, including saints, are remembered for various things: winning a battle, governing a country, composing a symphony, writing a masterpiece, or inventing a life changing device. St. Joseph did none of these. Even in his own time, in the eyes of the world, this small-town carpenter was insignificant. But St. Joseph’s greatness did not lie in his business profession. St. Joseph’s greatness and holiness were manifested in his relationships: husband and father.
Many men, including us Catholic fathers, are tempted to prove our importance to the world. We want our name on the door; we want the corner office; we want to be the boss. We spend so much time looking for respect outside the home that we often forget that our wives and children would respect us, if only we gave them the chance.
You will not find a job that equals the importance of your job as a father. Your role as a father is more important than your outside occupation—your fatherhood is more important than anyone’s job. You have been chosen to prepare immortal souls for eternity.
St. Joseph never looked outside his family for approval or for a sense of accomplishment—and neither should we.
Accomplishment is right there waiting for us.
You want to know what accomplishment looks like? It’s the chocolate ice cream covered smile of a 7 year old boy, whose father took him out for dessert, instead of catching up on some paperwork at the office.
It’s the bright-eyed gaze of wonder of a three-year-old girl who turns the pages as her father reads The Cat in the Hat for the fiftieth time.
It’s that confident look in your wife’s eyes that says: “I know I chose the right man” as she watches you take your children to Holy Communion.
Meditating on St. Joseph should remind us that there really is no greater calling for us than fatherhood.
So this year, let’s confidently call on an old friend: St. Joseph. As the world beckons us to prove our importance, let’s ask for St. Joseph’s intercession, to remind us that there is no role more important than the one God has already blessed us with: fathers and husbands. As a husband and father, he understands your anxieties, your pressures, and your troubles. Reverently speak to him as one home schooling father to another, and humbly ask for his prayers.
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.