27 May A Letter to St. Joseph
by Fr. David May
Dear Saint Joseph,
Greetings! I don’t recall ever writing you a letter before now. And in fact, in all the years I’ve written for Restoration, I think I only wrote about you once, somewhere back in the ‘70’s or ‘80’s. However, in this year dedicated to you, I want to share a few concerns with you and ask your help.
First, our generation could really benefit from your deeply interior prayer life, which was so open to the revelation of the divine in the midst of everyday life.
You are presented to us as in the line of great believers of the covenant such as Abraham, Moses, David—not perfect men but men of faith whose vision pierced the suffocating atmosphere of their day, with its pagan deities clogging true communication everywhere.
Abraham, who hoped against hope that the Lord would one day fulfill his promise to make his offspring as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore or the stars in the heavens.
Moses, who first met the living God in the burning bush and who achieved the impossible task of leading his people out of slavery to the Egyptians.
David, who was loyal to you from the depths of his heart, and when he sinned made no excuses for himself or sought out different gods other than you, but said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
We need your help today to penetrate the clouded and clogged atmosphere we live in that denies the presence of the living God, hates Christianity and especially loathes the incarnate Son of God, your foster-child.
Even believers are getting swallowed alive by the maw of the current culture of death spreading its tentacles arrogantly in all directions.
Pray for us, Saint Joseph, that we can have profoundly silent, listening hearts that seek the face of God still, and long for his voice, even if we hear it only in dreams.
Pray for our confidence in the presence of God, the victory of the God of Israel over all the forces of darkness and sin.
“Noble son of the house of David, pray for us!
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us! Joseph most just, pray for us!
Joseph most faithful, pray for us!”
You were chosen by God to be the protector of his two greatest treasures: the eternal Son of God made flesh, Jesus Christ, and his virgin mother, Mary.
By your fidelity to what God asked of you, you helped make possible the work of our salvation. Your presence created a home where Jesus and Mary could dwell in security. Your acceptance of Mary as pregnant by the Holy Spirit preserved her life and that of her child.
The integrity of your manner of life was an example, humanly speaking, of fatherly care for Jesus. Your fidelity to daily toil gave your little family some measure of economic security, even if it was of the simplest most basic kind.
You must have been the public face, so to speak, of your family in Nazareth, so that the mystery that was taking form there could remain completely hidden until the proper time.
You obeyed the angel of your dreams and in so doing saved your foster-son from certain destruction. You knew both the state of things in the greater world of your time and the secret of joy around the hearth of the most intimate family life.
How we need your protection today, both at this intimate level of family life and in relationship to the broader picture of the world itself, which intrudes itself into our lives through all kinds of media more powerful and insidious than the Roman Empire of your day.
Pray for our courage in the face of dangers of all kinds, especially spiritual dangers. Ask the Lord to give us alert and discerning hearts and minds to identify forces opposed to our faith and to stand firm for what is essential.
Help us not to be afraid of the hidden and obscure paths believers must sometimes follow.
“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 prudent, pray for us!
Joseph most brave, pray for us!
Pillar of family life, pray for us!
Protector of the holy Church, pray for us!”
You also represent to us masculinity at its best, masculinity which is hidden but powerful, gentle but fierce in its treasuring of those for whom it is responsible.
Above all, the greatest strength comes for a man from his humility before the face of God. In all the New Testament, who besides the Son of God himself was more self-effacing than you as a man? You carried out your mission without complaint and made no show of the sacrifices you were asked to make.
Your delight was to love and cherish your little family, and also, I’m sure, to read the Scriptures and to worship the living God of Israel.
You are never presented as speaking even a single word in the passages referring to yourself, and you seem to have no need for words to explain yourself, or to find some ego’s assurance that you are worth something and are making your mark on the world.
It is in such hiddenness as this that true manly strength is revealed best. You are thus an example for men today not only of fidelity to domestic life, but also of what is needed in society to provide true leadership where it is so sorely lacking today, no matter where we look, in circles secular or ecclesial.
Men such as yourself, rare as they may be, speak with a great authority, not unlike that demonstrated by your foster-son when he began his public life and taught in the synagogues.
These men know that they are nothing without God, that they can accomplish nothing of any enduring quality without being profoundly united to the True Vine.
Only those who know in the depths of their hearts that of themselves they are nobody, can be somebody of value for the times in which they live, such as you were, Joseph, and as you remain today, whatever the titles you bear in the eyes of those who admire you and love you.
It is to such as these that the Lord reveals himself, and from whom comes the wisdom God alone can give and which is so desperately needed in all times, and particularly so today.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us! Mirror of patience, pray for us! Lover of poverty, pray for us! Model of artisans, pray for us!
Finally, I need to mention how in need of comforting love our world is at this time. I do not mean the “comfort” of avoiding pain or responsibility, but the comfort of those who bring a depth of peace arising from their faith.
You must have been an icon of such peace when you lived on earth, and now that you are our heavenly patron, so much more so in the glory of your foster-son’s kingdom.
Our world today is so bent on pleasures and avoidance of pain and suffering, yet remains comfortless, restless, and deep down, though not admitting it, frightened and alone.
Come to us in our poverty today, in our loss of a sense of the fatherhood of God and be for us what only a loving father can be—the assurance that in the end, all shall be well.
“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!”
Yours most sincerely,