My Friend, Joseph

I had no particular devotion to St. Joseph growing up nor, for that matter, in the early years after my return to Catholicism in my early 40s. He was simply a figure hovering in the background at events like the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, a (literal) figure I placed near the crib when we put out our creche every Christmas.

When we were trying to sell our house in Port Washington, NY four years ago, and I was impatient with the progress, a friend suggested the old tool of burying a statue of St. Joseph. I rejected the idea – this smacked too much of the superstition surrounding faith that makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable.

But one day a package arrived in the mail from this friend. When I opened it I found the “kit” for invoking St. Joseph’s aid for selling a house – a little statue, instructions and a prayer. Thinking “what the heck, it’s here so might as well use it” I buried the statue. To alleviate my discomfort with the whole thing, I vowed that I would say a prayer to St. Joseph every day for a year, regardless of how the house sale went.

Something happened between me and Joseph during that time, and four years later, I still say a prayer to him every day. And when I visualize the Communion of Saints, Joseph has a prominent place in the gathering.

Joseph reminds me that one doesn’t have to have the starting role to play an important part.

Joseph reminds me that one can remain faithful even when the world seems turned upside down.

Joseph reminds me of the value of loyalty and fidelity even when they are hard.

Joseph reminds me to give people the benefit of the doubt even when their stories seemed strange (read: completely unbelievable).

He is a good man, this friend of mine.

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!