By ERIC GIRTEN
THE CATHOLIC KITCHEN
In the midst of the noise and distraction, Pope Francis has ushered in the “Year of St. Joseph;” and I can think of no better time to do so. In the Litany to St. Joseph, we find among his titles: “Diligent Protector of Christ, Glory of Home Life, Safeguard of Families, Consolation of the Poor, Terror of Demons, Protector of the Church.”
If I were able to start a lay ministry for Catholic fathers, it would be dedicated to St. Joseph – and those titles would be its aspirational pillars. The litany goes on to include “Model of Workmen, Mirror of Patience, Hope of the Sick, Patron of the Dying, Light of Patriarchs.” It is in these examples – action, faithful and humble fortitude, grit, determination and holiness – that members of this Order would live out their faith and lives.
And how would they be described? The litany continues “Just, chaste, prudent, strong, obedient and faithful.” I would add unassuming, moral and reasonable. Awareness of the bitter effects of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth would be necessary, and the Path to Virtue would necessarily include steadfast destruction of these fruitless traits.
We see this path in the life of St. Joseph. Did St. Joseph leave Mary when he found her pregnant? Surely he experienced humiliation but did not divorce her to save his own name. Did he ask God for something in return for this arrangement? Did he seek to gratify his human desire? Did he envy those around him who were not thrown into this role? Did he rise up against Herod or sit idle?
No; this Holy Order of the Servants of St. Joseph would invite quiet and holy action over thunderous accolades, and its reward would be the quiet smiles of the Infant King and his Morning Star and Tower of Ivory – Mary, the Mother of God.
This Order would not be for everyone – but for those willing to pick up their staffs each day; to make a difference in their surroundings; to get up when they fall and to fight the good fight until the end. These were the actions of St. Joseph, and he helped to transform the world even though he spoke not a word in Sacred Scripture.
Days, weeks and months are dedicated to issues of life, family, youth, etc., and we must continue our awareness of these ideals; but what is also needed today are hearts of gold and wills of steel. It is in this codex of the trained soul that we will, ourselves, decrease and allow the healing mercy of Jesus Christ to increase within us. Christ is the One who can heal. St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother both knew that and were willing to take up their roles in this grand play. Let us model them now and stand for Christ.