The Dream of St. Joseph (Mengs)

Anne Stricherz

The Dream of St. Joseph

Bubba Watson is the number two golfer in the world. In 2012 when he won the 76th Masters Championship, he won his first major and fans too. When asked about winning the prestigious tourney and wearing the green jacket, Watson said “I never got this far in my dreams.” In a funny way, his words reminded me of Saint Joseph—the earthly father of Christ and husband to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I have no doubt Joseph could not have dreamt of the role he would play in the history of our salvation. But on his feast day, March 19, we honor who he was, how he lived and how he loved his family—the Holy Family!

We don’t know a whole lot about St. Joseph. James Martin, SJ the author of “My Life with the Saints” points out that “Joseph is given no words to speak in the entire Gospel. He’s only given a few sentences in all of Scripture. Given the 24/7 news media world we live in today, this can be very difficult for us to comprehend. In that sense, it’s quite fitting that Martin names the life of Saint Joseph as a “hidden” one.

“Saint Joseph is the Patron of the Hidden Life—the life that Jesus lives between the ages of twelve to thirty,” says Martin. We are tasked to work with what we do know. We must infer from the relationships Joseph maintained to appreciate his holy example and understand his dreams.

In this way, again, I think of Bubba Watson. He said,

As a kid, when you dream about making putts to win tournaments, you never think about after you make the putt.   You always think about making the putt, waving your hands to the crowd and that’s it.  You never think about the whirlwind after it. Putting on the green jacket—making sure it fits right, talking to people, talking to the media. You never think about the excitement and what you’ll do after you win it.   And after I won, I didn’t know what to do.” 

Although Watson might not have known what do once he won, he obviously knew what to do in order to get there. He achieved the dream that so many golf enthusiasts and the professionals in particular hold for themselves.

So what can his words teach all of us? Again, how do they help us understand the “Hidden Life” of Saint Joseph?

Watson’s remarks reminded me of the late Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University famous for his book, “The Last Lecture: Pursuing Your Childhood Dreams.” Before he died of pancreatic cancer, Pausch appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to share his message. He told the audience, that what he wrote is “about how to live your life because if you live your life the right way, the dreams will come to you.  If you live your life properly the dreams will come to you.”

Shaping the Dreams of St. Joseph

What little we do know about Joseph affirms that he lived life properly. Matthew’s Gospel says that he was “a righteous man.” The movie “Mary of Nazareth” portrays Joseph as a hard working, respectful man who was deeply in love with a woman named Mary. He was drawn to her goodness and her love for God. He must have dreamt of a long life with her as his wife and companion. He was however tasked with much more.

Matthew 1: 18-25 reveals how that dream unfolded and the birth of Jesus Christ came about.

When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Scripture reveals that a dream came to Joseph in the most literal sense. But it is powerfully metaphorical too.When I think of dreams, I think of great things happening—getting a certain job, meeting a hero, winning a title or championship, or being elected to leadership position. But the more I think about such dreams; I realize many (not all) are not free of responsibility. It may be a young man or woman’s dream to be the President of the United States, but that position means one will lose any and all sense of privacy. Their life will need constant protection. They will be praise and vilified in the same meeting. And we know that for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, just before he was elected Pope he had a moment of desolation followed by another of consolation. Indeed, what may come of our dreams might be a mixing of both blessings and burdens.

No doubt this had to have been true for St. Joseph. He became an earthly father to the Messiah, a man that many people would follow and so many others would reject. Certainly, Joseph had great faith in God and in Mary, to accept what was to be. We only know a little bit of what God saw in Joseph, but he too must have been living his life the right way. The dream came to him. We honor him in many different ways because of that.

The Litany of Saint Joseph, included below, is a wonderful prayer that helps me relate to the patriarch of the Holy Family. Honoring him with these words teaches me about his holiness. I gain an understanding of what God the Father, Mary—his holy spouse and Jesus his earthly Son must have loved about him.

In it, we are reminded of the manifold roles that St. Joseph has served to Christians throughout the centuries. I hope that one will resonate with you personally. Perhaps another can serve as an example for who you would like to be—mirror of patience. Look to St. Joseph as the model. Pray to St. Joseph for such virtues. His “hidden life” will no longer feel so hidden. And his dreams might be your dreams as well. Live them accordingly and God the Father will bring them to you. St. Joseph, pray for us.


The Litany of Saint Joseph

 Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)
 Christ, have mercy. (Christ, have mercy.)
 Lord, have mercy. (Lord, have mercy.)

Jesus, hear us. (Jesus, graciously hear us.)

God, the Father of Heaven, (Have mercy on us.)
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, (Have mercy on us.)
God, the Holy Spirit, (Have mercy on us.)
Holy Trinity, One God, (Have mercy on us.)
Holy Mary, (pray for us.)
St. Joseph, (pray for us.)
Renowned offspring of David, (pray for us.)
Light of Patriarchs, (pray for us.)
Spouse of the Mother of God, (pray for us.)
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, (pray for us.)
Foster father of the Son of God, (pray for us.)
Diligent protector of Christ, (pray for us.)
Head of the Holy Family, (pray for us.)
Joseph most just, (pray for us.)
Joseph most chaste, (pray for us.)
Joseph most prudent, (pray for us.)
Joseph most strong, (pray for us.)
Joseph most obedient, (pray for us.)
Joseph most faithful, (pray for us.)
Mirror of patience, (pray for us.)
Lover of poverty, (pray for us.)
Model of artisans, (pray for us.)
Glory of home life, (pray for us.)
Guardian of virgins, (pray for us.)
Pillar of families, (pray for us.)
Solace of the wretched, (pray for us.)
Hope of the sick, (pray for us.)
Patron of the dying, (pray for us.)
Terror of demons, (pray for us.)
Protector of Holy Church, (pray for us.)

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, (spare us, O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, (spare us, O Lord.)

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world. (graciously hear us, O Lord.)

He made him the lord of his household. (And prince over all his possessions.)

Let us pray, ---  O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.