Distracted by St. Joseph

Lately, during the quiet prayer time after Communion, something has been catching my eye. At this time of year, the sun slants just right to cast brilliant reflections from one of the stained glass windows onto a century-old statue of St. Joseph.

I’ve never really paid attention to that statue before.

To be honest, I’ve never really paid attention to St. Joseph before.

But in that quiet time, I look at that statue and I think about the saint. I reel in my thoughts from where they are trying to wander (I’m a mom, and a multitasker, and my thoughts are always wandering) and I think about what St. Joseph has to teach me.

This has been a fruitful distraction. After all, I could contemplate far worse things after Communion than what I can learn from a saint.

Everything we know about St. Joseph shows his caring love, his protectiveness, his sacrificial nature. Without saying a word, he shows us how to live.

Many times, we put our saints in boxes. Mary is a saint for women, and particularly mothers, we think. Men, and particularly fathers, have St. Joseph. And of course Mary is a beautiful patroness for women and mothers, and St. Joseph a wonderful patron for men and fathers.

But why should we limit the saints in that way?

Today, Pope Francis has proclaimed a Year of St. Joseph, beginning today (December 8, 2020) through December 8, 2021. The pope has also released an apostolic letter about St. Joseph, titled Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart), and I am going to make it my business to read it in the days ahead.

Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.

(Pope Francis, Patris Corde, Dec. 8, 2020)

We have so much to learn from St. Joseph. Seek out ways he is portrayed in art — like the statue in my church. Most statues show St. Joseph carrying carpenter’s tools, but not this one. In this statue, he holds the toddler Jesus in one arm, and Jesus is grasping his other hand in that way young children do when they’re being held by someone they love and trust.

God trusted St. Joseph with the care of the Holy Family. We, too, can trust St. Joseph.

This year, let yourself be distracted by St. Joseph. Let him lead you to Jesus.


Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Photo copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Recommended Reading: The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

March is the Month of St. Joseph. What better time to enjoy a little historical fiction starring the Holy Family?

diaries of joseph and maryDennis P. McGeehan’s book, The Diaries of Joseph and Mary, invites the reader to journey with Mary and Joseph from their early childhoods until Jesus sets out for his baptism at the hands of his cousin. These fictional diaries allow the reader to peek into the minds and hearts of Jesus’ mother and foster father.

McGeehan’s imagination is complemented by extensive research into centuries of Church scholarship regarding the Holy Family. He is careful to distinguish what we do know (from reading the Gospels) from what we can surmise (from reading history and Church scholarship). This book does not pretend to be anyone’s biography; it is clearly historical fiction with a basis in actual history and tradition.

While Mary has more pages in the book (since she lived longer than her husband), Joseph definitely has a featured role in this story. Mary’s diary entries are often devoted to praise of her spouse.

I found that this book offered much food for meditation. It allowed me to think about Gospel events and other events in the life of Christ in a different light, as I considered what Jesus’ parents would have been experiencing.

Don’t miss the appendix at the end of the book: 101 Questions and Answers about St. Joseph. Here McGeehan showcases the results of his research, sharing what centuries of Church Fathers and other scholars have taught about St. Joseph.

This book is appropriate for readers in middle school and up, so I’d recommend that you leave your copy around for your teenager to explore!