Stalked by St. Joseph
When I was a little girl, every time I prayed the “Our Father,” I thought of St. Joseph. I often struggled to remember that the prayer was about our Heavenly Father, and not the pleasant-faced man whose statue stood on the right side of my church growing up—St. Joseph Catholic Church, in fact. Throughout the years, I found myself vigorously defending this good man. No one ever meant him any disrespect, but I got upset on his behalf when he was left out of prayers, when he was forgotten, or when he was only mentioned as the blessed spouse of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.
I remember having a conversation with my Mom about this one day as we were leaving church. “I mean yes, Mary carried Jesus and was his mother, but don’t you think St. Joseph deserves some credit, too? Mary gets the full honor of being Jesus’ mother, but St. Joseph is only ever referred to as his foster father. He’s always in the background.”
Looking back now, I can imagine St. Joseph laughing at me in heaven. Yes, he was always in the background—he’s been following me around my whole life, paving my way to God through receiving the sacraments at St. Joe’s, getting an education at his school across the street from the church, and eventually convincing my wonderful, patient, Protestant husband to get married back at St. Joseph’s—right where my parents made their own vows 30 years ago.
I’m a cradle Catholic, but I didn’t practice as religiously (pun intended) as I should have throughout college. I never fell away from the faith, but I didn’t make it to Mass every Sunday either. This year, my new year’s resolution was to not miss any Holy Days of Obligation. It doesn’t seem that hard, but I always manage to forget whichever one falls three quarters of the way through the year on a random Tuesday. Not this year, I vowed.
And then St. Joseph started popping up… everywhere.
I’ve been struggling for a few years with the idea that I can’t have my dream job right away. I felt like I deserved a fulfilling job with a mission that actually matters. On the job hunt, I discovered that St. Joseph is the patron saint of employment. It makes perfect sense: quietly sawing away in his workshop, teaching Jesus about carpentry and the value of a good day’s hard work, of course St. Joseph would be the patron of bringing that love and honor to others. So I asked for his intercession. And then quickly, I got frustrated that I wasn’t finding anything soon enough, on my timetable. Mindlessly scrolling through social media, I came across a post about St. Joseph, except his title wasn’t one I’d expect: Mirror of Patience. “Okay,” I sighed. Message received.
Or so I thought.
Then I got lunch with my friend Jane—the brilliant creator of this whole website—and somehow (somehow, as if St. Joseph didn’t set this up)—St. Joseph came up. I mentioned how I had always felt that he was the most underappreciated, undervalued saint. Immediately Jane’s eyes lit up. She agreed and told me about how she was in the middle of consecrating herself to him. I joined the group, but then one day, Jane and I went to Mass and I attended Confession right afterwards. I told the priest how I was working on consecrating myself to St. Joseph, and he agreed it was a good idea. I walked straight out of the confessional and bought the consecration book from the gift shop. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.
Then I went to my favorite little bakery in Arlington, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe. It was the week before St. Joseph’s feast day and sitting on the edge of the bread counter was St. Joseph Bread, shaped like a staff.
And then the coronavirus hit and I got an email from Georgetown University Catholic Ministry. They were leading a novena to celebrate St. Joseph’s feast day on March 19th, but they also shared a unique story. I learned that St. Joseph had protected the Georgetown community from a pandemic before—first from a measles outbreak in 1872, then from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, and now from COVID-19.
Flash forward, and that one random day I decided to fully commit to the consecration process lined up to be exactly 33 days from Easter.
I missed the boat on consecrating myself to St. Joseph on his feast day, but instead, he surprisingly brought me to the Resurrection. The very day I accepted St. Joseph into my heart as my spiritual father, he immediately passed that love on to Jesus, bringing me into a deeper relationship with Him. I’ve always felt closer to God the Father—remember the Our Father prayer dilemma?—and couldn’t understand how people talk about this “personal relationship” with Jesus all the time. Well, St. Joseph is teaching me how.
St. Joseph is the most powerful saint there is. Now I will caveat this and say of course, Mother Mary is the most powerful, but we tend to think of her as Mary, Queen of Heaven, rather than as “St. Mary.” We will always glorify Mary, but after her, St. Joseph is the most powerful saint. Jesus obeyed St. Joseph on earth as his father—in heaven, Jesus will refuse Joseph nothing. And Joseph continues his vocation as the most loving father of all of us; he’s always with us. If you pray the Litany of St. Joseph, you’ll find that he is the most approachable, down-to-earth, and unbelievably holy saint, ready to support you in all your human and spiritual battles.
Wondering about your place in the world and what God’s plans are for you?
Well, St. Joseph may have been a poor carpenter, but he is also the Noble Offspring of David. God always planned greater glory, honor, and responsibility for Joseph, and for you.
Struggling to be a holy spouse or to be chaste in the single, consecrated, or married life?
Pray with Joseph, Spouse of the Mother of God and Chaste Guardian of the Virgin.
Embarrassed to make the Sign of the Cross before eating at a restaurant?
Think of how St. Joseph’s small acts of kindness and faith transformed Jesus’s childhood and earned him the title Zealous Defender of Christ.
If you’re unsure how to hear the call of God in your life, remember that Joseph was entrusted with God’s only Son and lived a pious, holy life, with pretty much nothing to go on. Mary, at least, was visited by the Archangel Gabriel in broad daylight. St. Joseph was asked to take the pregnant Mary into his home and his response was not to be suspicious of her, but to think he was unworthy to love and protect such a holy woman. He was asked to raise, adore, and protect the baby Jesus from King Herod, to start a new life in the strange land of Egypt, with only the instructions from a strange dream to go on.
Think about this: St. Joseph was tasked with disciplining Jesus, teaching him the laws of Judaism, and showing him to shape wood, and he did so on the authority of an angel who spoke to him in his sleep.
Joseph Most Prudent, Joseph Most Courageous, Joseph Most Obedient, Joseph Most Faithful—what a model.
Pray for us.
When our frustration threatens to boil over, sit with the Mirror of Patience.
When we’re asked to do menial tasks in our jobs, take heart in St. Joseph, the Model of Workmen.
If we are blessed with families of our own, rest in the mantle of Mary’s motherhood and under St. Joseph’s paternal cloak, the Glory of Domestic Life and Pillar of Families.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the last few lines particularly stand out to me: pray with me to St. Joseph, the Comfort of the Afflicted, Hope of the Sick, and Patron of the Dying. When you wake in the night startled from a dream and afraid of the shadows, you need only speak St. Joseph’s name aloud, and the Terror of Demons will protect you.
St. Joseph is the Protector of the Holy Church, but he is also the protector of your church—each of our own hearts. Nothing makes a father happier than the ability to help his children. Here at The SundayMonday, we trust in the chaste heart of St. Joseph and his spiritual fatherhood. As our patron, St. Joseph is here to help with our human concerns and to bring us safely home to our Father. He invites us into his own holy family, to shepherd you on your way to holiness, to honor and respect him and his most beloved spouse, Mary, and to share in fellowship with his beloved Son, Jesus.
St. Joseph has been stalking me my entire life—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
He knew I needed him long before I did. Ite ad Joseph. Go to Joseph. Run to him. He is waiting for you with open arms.
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Gabriela R. A. Doyle is a speechwriter and communications specialist from northern Virginia. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and is an Elon University alumna. Gabriela is a ballerina who believes in happily ever afters and trusts that a little hygge and St. Joseph can fix just about any problem there is.