March 21, 2013 by lucieromarin
Well, true to form, within a day of posting a list of other people’s unhelpful questions and comments, I’d remembered a bunch more that I’d meant to post – I’d even found the scrap of paper on which I’d jotted them down in the few graphemes that count for my handwriting. However, by then we’d reached St Joseph’s Feast, and I enjoyed a series of thoughts during and after Mass that, I thought, made a nice change from my usual thoughts about what other people do wrong.
Of course, it’s possible that muted chant and candles flickering in the half-light gave my thoughts a certain dignity which will be absent in cyberspace; still, I think the universe will cope if I don’t post the next list of unhelpful comments for another day or so. So, here’s some stuff I like about St Joseph:
1) His title, ‘Terror of Demons.’ I got such a surprise the first time I prayed his litany! Apart from the fact that it’s cool (as in actually cool, not Youth-Movement-cool) it also made me think – who knew? We have him categorised as Silent, An Example to Fathers, and Loved by St Teresa of Avila. Who knew he was also frightening? (In the best possible way, I mean! But just think about how your mental image of him changes once you start imagining a demon seeing him, and then fleeing in fear. Uh-huh. Cool.)
2) He is, to me, the Patron Saint of Rising to the Occasion. Why? Because, though I have no idea what he expected from marriage, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the flight into Egypt. It’s not just, that, with no warning, he had to protect his wife and her baby from heat, cold, wind, rain, dust, hunger, and thirst. He also had to protect them from other men. The journey wasn’t just arduous; it was dangerous. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘The Book of Eli,’ you’ll recall the awful scene in which brigands set upon a man and his wife on their journey through the desert, killing the man and assaulting the wife to death. Okay, maybe the Holy Family didn’t travel through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but it was a lot more like that than it was like a coach tour. How did he do it? How did he keep them safe? I can’t help wondering… did the robbers avoid him because they saw what the demons see? (Yep. Think about that for a moment. He’s like a whole different saint now.)
3) Also, he is, to me, the Patron Saint of Keeping Secrets (sorry, St John Nepomucene!). We think of Our Lady as keeping all things in her heart…but who did St Joseph tell about his stuff? Our Lady went to St Elizabeth – who did St Joseph have to go to? What did he say when people said, “Oh, your son looks so like his mother?” or “Ah, such a respectful boy! How did you teach him this?” And, if he and Our Lady had both taken vows of virginity, and other people knew about it (which is possible) – what did he say when they expressed disappointment in him for breaking it? Worse, what did he say to those Essene-hating relatives who congratulated him for breaking it?
4) He’s also proof that whether or not you end up as one of the most important people in the Church has nothing to do with how much anyone knows about you. Biographically speaking, we know nothing about him other than his name, his occupation, and his marital status. We know that he was briefly confused about his vocation and once mistaken about the whereabouts of the child for whom he was responsible. Which of his good deeds were recorded in Scripture? According to the rules of social media, St Joseph should have no friends. This tells us something about those rules.
5) About a year ago I had what I thought was a nice idea, which was to ask St Joseph to be the Man of the House (ie of my household of one), as he’s obviously good at it. I felt worthy for days. Then it occurred to me that this wasn’t going to make my lightbulbs change themselves, which is, I think, kind of what I’d been hoping for. I mention this because I think it’s funny!
**Update** Gah! I wondered how long it would take me to express something so poorly that it sounded heretical, and now I know. Sorry – when I said ‘if he and Our Lady had both taken vows of virginity’ I didn’t mean to question Our Lady’s commitment to virginity! No, I was imagining a situation in which a mutually-known commitment might have been semi-public, in the sense that close friends or family were either dimly aware or certainly aware that such a vow had been made, as with some marriages in the early days of the Church. It’s only speculation, of course!