St. Joseph in 2020


Sarah Bartel // Tales From the Trenches

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September 22  

“When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you’” (Gen 41:55).

I find myself “going to Joseph” more and more as I live out my vocation as a wife and mother. Currently, my husband and I are in the midst of the wonderful thirty-three day consecration preparation using Fr. Donald Calloway’s great book, Consecration to St. Joseph. The powerful intercession of this saint and his rock-steady, quiet strength give me hope and comfort amidst this year’s various storms. They also offer me reassurance amidst the changes and challenges of family life.

St. Joseph is the one who helped me get into this vocation in the first place. His intercession helped me find my husband. After praying before the St. Joseph altars of the beautiful churches, cathedrals, and shrines I visited in France during my college study abroad year, I came home and fell in love with a quiet, kind young man with a strong moral character. His birthday was March 19th, St. Joseph’s feast day. We moved several times in our first years of marriage and made novenas to St. Joseph when we needed to buy a house, sell a house, or find a job. He always came through, and he often left his fingerprints. One time, a man named Joseph was the long-sought buyer we needed for our house. Another time, the deal for our new home closed on March 19th.

Until somewhat recently, my prayers to St. Joseph usually involved big requests. For homes, yes, and also for good husbands for my sisters (he found such wonderful men for them!), for my children’s future spouses or vocations (TBD), and for holy deaths for loved ones when the time comes (far in the future, I hope!). Lately, however, I’ve begun going to Joseph for help with the little, everyday needs—especially for help managing my own household. Fr. Calloway reminds us that our devotion to St. Joseph should help us become an “apparition of Joseph,” just as our Marian devotion should make us an “apparition of Mary.”

I have quite a way to go before I exude that same steady, quiet, dependable strength that Joseph had. However, I can ask his help with household tasks like meal planning and grocery shopping. After all, distributing the food at the proper time was Old Testament Joseph’s specialty in Egypt! I call on him frequently for help for the marriages of the couples in the ministry my husband and I now lead. I ask for his help to be more of a steady worker at my daily tasks. I ask his protection over my home and family amidst the alarming wildfires we’re living through in my area—and I see echoes of his humble spirit of service in the selfless hard work of the men and women putting themselves between these fires and our homes. I’m asking St. Joseph to help me grow in that much-desired, quiet strength of his in order to show steady leadership in my household through a year when riots, fires, smoke, and a pandemic have caused big disturbances. St. Joseph lived through dangerous and tumultuous times as well, but he and Mary managed to make their own home an oasis of peace. I can ask this “just man’s” help to make my own household an oasis of peace and justice where the presence of Christ can be felt, just like it was in the home of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

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