March 19th is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph! With such a dear friend, father, and protector as Saint Joseph, I'm eager to convince you that he's your next favorite saint. He has changed my life.
Saint Joseph became special to me at three distinct stages of my life. Before I was to date my future wife, Amber, I took a dating fast for two years. Saint Joseph helped me learn how to serve and protect all women like a brother should, not seeking attention and affection, but trying to treat women as I want my sisters to be treated. Then, when I started my job with Saint Paul’s Outreach, right after my honeymoon, I needed his intercession to keep me devoted to my work and grateful for God’s provision. And finally, when I had a daughter of my own, I came to Saint Joseph in a new way, wanting him to teach me how to be a devoted father and a pillar of my little family.
Here are three reasons why you need a devotion to Saint Joseph:
1. The Holiest Husband and Father - Ever
Whenever we talk about the greatness and holiness of a particular saint, we must keep one principle in mind: saints are nothing without the grace of God. "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). But with grace, saints are perfected in Heaven, able to do great things by their intercession. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).
Consider the principle that God gives grace according to the mission He has called us to. In Joseph’s case, his mission was to raise the Savior of the World - to teach our High Priest how to pray, to be the breadwinner for the Bread of Life, to provide shelter for the Provider of the Universe. Saint Joseph did nothing remarkable... except father a Son who would save the world! And for that mission, he was overflowing with grace.
Consider also the time he spent living with Jesus. Next to Mary, no one spent more time with Jesus than His father, Joseph. The great men of the Church (Peter, James, John) spent three years following Him, investigating His actions, hearing Him preach. Paul saw Him only once in a vision. Imagine what twenty years would do - not just following Him, but holding Him, sleeping next to Him, feeding Him! Twenty years under the same roof as Jesus is going to make a marvelous saint.
2. Model of Families, Men, and Spouses
In a nation that is so confused about what marriage is, we desperately need a model for families. The leader of the Holy Family can lead us to foster holy families, which is the key to a holy nation. “The future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home” (Saint John Paul II). How did the Holy Family spend their time and money? What did their family meals look like? What was it like to see Mary and Joseph teach Jesus the verses of Scripture?
In a world where men are confused about their identity, purpose and even gender, men need a role model. Saint Joseph was a master of purity, self-control, and humility. He is a teacher of fathers and husbands in how to live and love like a real man.
In a world of broken marriages, infidelity, and pornography, women need a spousal model. Women, your boyfriend should treat you as Saint Joseph treated Mary, protecting you from premature emotional attachment, guarding your purity, being a friend more than a romantic partner, keeping your future spouse in mind. Don’t settle for less than a man modeled after Saint Joseph.
3. A Most Powerful Intercessor
If you don’t have a patron saint, well… you’d be wrong, because Saint Joseph is your Patron! In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church. That includes you. Listen to what Pope Saint John XXIII said about devotion to Saint Joseph:
"All the saints in glory assuredly merit honor and particular respect, but it is evident that Saint Joseph possesses a just title to a more sweet, more intimate and penetrating place in our hearts, belonging to him alone... Here we are able to estimate completely all the greatness of Saint Joseph, not only by reason of the fact that he was close to Jesus and Mary, but also by the shining example he has given of all virtues."
When a saint recommends a saint, I think we should take note. St. Teresa of Avila was deeply devoted to Saint Joseph:
"I took the glorious Saint Joseph for my advocate and protector, and commended myself earnestly to him; and it was clearly he who both healed me of this sickness and delivered me from great dangers that threatened my good name and the salvation of my soul. His aid has brought me more good than I could ever hope for from him, I do not remember once having asked anything of him that was not granted... God seems to have given other saints power to help us in particular circumstances, but I know from experience that this glorious Saint Joseph helps in each and every need. Our Lord would have us understand that, since on earth He was subject to this man who was called His father, whom as His guardian He had to obey, so now in heaven He still does all that Joseph asks. Others, who have turned to Joseph on my advice, have had the like experience; and today there are many people who honor him and keep on finding out the truth of what I say."
That’s an amazing quote considering that Teresa was named a Doctor of the Church - the best recommendation from the Church, since she contributed enormously to theology and doctrine.
So please, for the sake of families, your relationships, and your devotion to Jesus, take Saint Joseph as your new favorite saint. You will find a best friend, a faithful father, and a glorious saint.
Prayer to St. Joseph by St. Pius X
O Glorious Saint Joseph, Model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, All through Mary, All after thine example, O Patriarch Saint Joseph! Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.