St. Joseph: Provider and protector

WHEN my father passed away in 1991, I turned to St. Joseph. More so, when I was estranged with my husband, a multiple task was requested of him to be the father of my sons.

My friends laugh at me because my favorite saints perform different tasks for me. To each I ran to when there is a specific situation. There’s St. Michael for safety and protection most especially when I am traveling. Sta. Lucia, after whom I was named, the patron saint of doctors engaged in eye care. I turn to her for purity of light in the things that I see. There’s Sta. Teresa of Avila for her grit and steel. In tumultuous stressing situations, she is the inspiration to forge forward. Like her, there is Padre Pio who always reminds me, the worry wart, never to be anxious or be frightened or afraid, as this too shall pass. There are many more like my best friend, St. Anthony of Padua. He works overtime always for me.

On Sunday, March 19, is the feast of St Joseph. He is not only venerated by the Catholic Church, but also the Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, the Lutherans, and the Methodists.

St. Joseph can be called upon in any need. Thus, there are many devotions attached to him as a helpful patron.

Many look to St. Joseph as a model for fathers. He was predestined to be the spouse of the Virgin Mother of the Son of God to be her guardian and protector. St. Joseph was for years the companion of both Mary and Jesus and bore Jesus constantly in his arms. Just like Mary, he was given the privilege of caressing Jesus and receiving His caresses in return. As they lived in the home in Nazareth, he was a father and a tutor to Jesus. He was the daily witness of His hidden life and heard the sacred words that fell from His lips all through His boyhood, youth and early manhood. These privileges, these graces and his virtues rank him next to Mary in the Court of Heaven.

As head of the Holy Family, St. Joseph received from God the wisdom, light, prudence and all virtues he needed to lead and protect his family. Thus, he is also regarded as the patron saint of families.

Among Catholics and Protestant traditions, St. Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of workers. By profession, we all know that he was a carpenter, a working man. Jesus was always referred to as the carpenter’s son. Joseph supported his family by constant labor. He is the model of those who must work which comprises practically everyone living in this world!

Another quite popular devotion to St. Joseph is as patron for a happy death and the dying. Joseph was chosen by the Church for this role because he passed from this life with Jesus and Mary by his side. Though Jesus is the Savior of the world, He, Mary and Joseph had their taste of the pain of separation and death. St. Joseph is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death. He had the unspeakable blessedness of dying in His embrace. “No man or woman ever had such a privilege as that of dying in the company of Jesus and Mary,” observed Francis Filas, S.J. He continues: “We must ask St. Joseph to intercede for us that we, too, might imitate his death by breathing our last in the friendship of Jesus and Mary."

For the Reformed Order of Carmelites, St. Teresa infused her great devotion to the St Joseph by choosing him, in 1621, for their patron.

This feast, soon adopted throughout the Spanish Kingdom, was later on extended to all states and dioceses which asked for the privilege. No devotion, perhaps, has grown so universal, none seems to have appealed so forcibly to the heart of the Christian people, and particularly of the laboring classes, during the nineteenth century, as that of St. Joseph.

This increase of popularity called for a new luster to be added to the cult of the saint. One of the first acts of the pontificate of Pius IX, himself devoted to St. Joseph, was to extend to the whole Church the Feast of the Patronage (1847), and in December, 1870, together with the wishes of the bishops and of all the faithful, declared the Holy Patriarch Joseph, Patron of the Catholic Church. He enjoined that his feast (19 March) be celebrated as a major feast of the liturgical year. Successive popes, following the footsteps of their predecessor, showed an equal desire to add their own jewel to the crown of St. Joseph.

St. Teresa of Avila has this "Guarantee" from her Autobiography, VI, 9 : "To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity-but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth-for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him-so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience …"

With the feast of St. Joseph, let us look to this saint, being father of Jesus himself as the protector of our families and children. As a working man and provider for his family, let us ask him to protect us in our work and professions. And most importantly, to be with us when we are called for a happy death. St. Joseph, Pray for us!

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