A poor but noble man was once betrothed to a beautiful, virtuous young woman. Before the wedding, his fiancé became pregnant. But she was—and would remain—a virgin the entirety of her life. This man honored his commitment and married her anyway. The neighbors, no doubt, whispered. The baby arrived far from home in cold and danger, no friends and family present to celebrate the birth. He fled with His family to safety in a foreign land, protecting his wife and caring for his adopted Son the rest of his days.
This man said “yes” to one simple, beautiful thing: life lived alongside a good woman. And that commitment made before God turned his life upside down. He reaffirmed his “yes” every step of the way, and today the entire universal Church honors him for it.
St. Joseph, patron saint of our families and our Church, pray for us.
Lessons from St. Joseph
Like St. Joseph, we can commit to one thing and suddenly discover that one thing has become more than we anticipated. When suffering accompanies these amendments, it is natural to question where God was in that original commitment or where our misstep since occurred.
Was this the right career? Was he the right man to marry? Should I have had all these kids?
And like Saint Joseph, we may not see the end of the story this side of Heaven. We may never have tangible proof that our suffering was not in vain. His life, however, consoles us through these uncertainties. Through the example of St. Joseph, we find several ways in which to overcome the temptation to doubt and despair.
Humility in Prayer
St. Joseph maintained a humble and receptive relationship with God the Father. When faced with difficult decisions that did not have a singularly moral answer, he was able to hear and respond to the voice of God. When we are already decided on a course of action, even a good one, it can be difficult for the Lord to lead our hearts elsewhere. A truly docile heart affords God the opportunity to fashion us into saints and set the world on fire.
In your prayer life, do you seek to hear and obey the will of the Father above all else?
From the love of my own comfort, and from the fear of death or trial, deliver me, oh God.
Humility in Name
St. Joseph allowed his good name to be misunderstood and very possibly ridiculed by a community he loved. He honored the promptings of God despite the threats to his reputation. He very literally placed his identity in the eyes of God before his identity in the eyes of the world. Delivered from the need to be understood and accepted, the boundaries we place on our decisions and actions disappear, giving God true freedom to direct our lives.
When making decisions, do you seek to please God before all others?
From the need to be understood, and from the need to be accepted, deliver me, oh God.
Putting Others First
Had St. Joseph approached Mary’s pregnancy with his good in mind, he probably would have left. When he fled his homeland, he was not personally in danger; he left to protect Jesus. The tough calls he made and the challenges he endured as a result were for the good of another. Today’s cultural narrative leads us to believe that serving others in this costly manner diminishes our freedom and inhibits our potential. The example of the Foster Father of Jesus says otherwise.
When the good of another demands personal sacrifice, do you respond in charity?
From the fear of serving others, deliver me, oh God.
St. Joseph Teaches Us to Not Be Afraid
St. Joseph was uniquely blessed in life to rest at Jesus’ feet. Through his example and intercession, we can lay our lives at Jesus’ feet as he did. If each commitment and all it entails is made with Jesus’ council and a humble heart that seeks to know, love, and serve Him, we can step forward in faith, trusting God to keep us and our decisions close to him and his good will for us.
Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Amen.
How are you celebrating St. Joseph’s feast day today?
Kayla Sanmiguel lives in Saint Paul, MN with her husband Javier and their (almost) four children. She works in Institutional Advancement for The Saint Paul Seminary and otherwise spends her time soaking up these fleeting years when toddlers run amok. You can find her thoughts on faith and psychology at Mind & Spirit.