St. Joseph & My Dad
One of the biggest blessings of the year of St. Joseph has been reflecting on how St. Joseph is a dear friend. My devotion to Mary has always been very natural and deep, so it makes sense that her most chaste spouse plays an active role in my life as well.
I grew up Catholic. My mom was born and raised in a big German Catholic family however, my dad was not. I spent many years hoping and praying he would become Catholic. I’ve always been very close with my dad, so I wanted to share in the joy and hope I have as a practicing Catholic.
Interestingly, St. Joseph was a biblical figure that my dad was always drawn to. He admired St. Joseph’s humility and courage. Any time we visited a new parish while traveling, he looked for the icon or statue of St. Joseph.
Armed with this, in 2018, I began a novena to St. Joseph that ended on St. Joseph’s feast day on March 19, praying for my dad’s conversion to the Catholic Church. Seven days later, on Monday of Holy Week, my Dad announced to my family that he felt ready to enter RCIA.
My dad’s journey to the Catholic Church was much longer than the nine days I prayed that novena. There have been tugs on his heart throughout his whole life and this novena was not the first I had prayed for his conversion. But through God’s timing and my dad’s willingness, he finally decided it was time.
By God’s grace and St. Joseph’s intercession, he entered the Church Easter of 2019 with my mom (his wife of 30 years) as his sponsor and St. Joseph as his patron saint. My dad has called that day one of the best days of his life, next to his wedding day and the days his children were born.
And now, two years later, during the year of St. Joseph, I reflect on how St. Joseph influenced my dad long before I began that novena. He was a model for him of how to be a good spouse and father.
During this year as I reflect on the titles of St. Joseph and I’m reminded of moments from my relationship with my dad,and finding nuggets on the meaning of true fatherhood.
Spouse of the Mother of God
One of my favorite things about my dad is that he loves my mom really, really well. Meeting my mom, he says, was one of the turning points in his life and he never looked back. He and my mom were always equal in dignity but knew that they were both made man and woman and thus their gifts were different.
He never allowed us kids to pit the parents against each other (and we tried). He always made sure to show us how much he loved my mom through acts of service, sharing in household responsibilities, being unafraid to hide how smitten he was with her.
There was never a doubt in our minds as kids that dad and mom love each other and are in it for the long haul.
We don’t know much about Mary and Joseph’s relationship outside of what is written in Scripture. But we know that St. Joseph loved Mary. He refused to divorce her in shame and did everything he could to ensure that she was safe and protected during an era that was difficult for women.
Diligent Protector of Christ
When I was a freshman in high school, I was invited to a really seedy party. I knew the party would probably get wild but told my parents it would be a quiet get together with friends and a movie. My dad drove me and dropped me off early. I thought I was smart by arriving when only the host and a few others were there, before the party really picked up.
As he drove away, Dad had a bad feeling. He turned the car around and came back to get me. I was livid and so embarrassed. We had a huge fight despite the fact that I knew his bad feeling was right.
Years later, I thanked my dad for coming back to get me. For many of my peers that party started a chain reaction of bad decisions that really affected them. My dad’s protection and action at that moment saved me from a lot of pain.
Scripture tells us that St. Joseph was the ultimate protector of the Christ child. After being warned in a dream by an angel that the king’s men were on their way to kill the Christ child. Without saying a word, he gathered up his small family and escaped to Egypt as quickly as possible.
He willingly uprooted his whole life and left everything he knew to protect Christ. Without this sacrifice by St. Joseph, Christ would have been killed as a baby and not on the cross.
Mirror of Patience
Yearofstjoseph.com says, “Patience is willingness to suffer. A patient is one who suffers a malady [a disease or ailment] not by choice whereas a patient man is one who suffers volitionally rather than relinquish the vocation given him.”
My final year of college, before he was Catholic, my dad was experiencing headaches and foggy vision. An MRI revealed a gold ball size tumor that needed to be removed immediately. We had no idea whether the tumor was cancerous and could spread or whether it could be totally removed.
It was a period of a lot of anxiety for my family. But dad was a champ. He affectionately called his golf ball sized tumor “Wilson” after the volleyball in Castaway and repeated that he was glad that it was him and not my mom or one of the kids.
Before going into surgery, my mom blessed him with a little bit of water from Lourdes, France, where our lady appeared to St. Bernadette. He grabbed the bottle and drank it down (we had more at home so she wasn’t upset) and said he was going to need all the good mojo he could get.
The surgery was a success and the tumor was benign. He was able to avoid going to the ICU and was home two days earlier than expected. He made a full recovery.
This is the way my dad is. He accepts whatever cross is given to him and carries it with humor and without complaint. “Woe is me” is simply not part of his vocabulary.
I can’t imagine “woe is me” being in St. Joseph’s vocabulary either. St. Joseph was willing to sacrifice and suffer for the sake of his family because he loved them deeply.
This Father’s Day, I invite you to reflect on the titles and virtues of St. Joseph. Think of your own dad or father figures and thank St. Joseph for being the perfect model of fatherhood for them.
Lord, thank you for fathers, both biological and spiritual. Help them learn how to embrace the virtue and wisdom of your own father, St. Joseph. We thank you for his example and his righteousness. Amen.
Be sure to also check out this article about St. Joseph Cora Evans published earlier this year.