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Papa Joseph

Print by: @pax.valerie


Date: June 19, 2021


It started off with a prayer spoken silently, “God please bring a father figure into my life.” A simple prayer uttered in the depths of my heart. This prayer had welled up after years of wrestling with an ache. The ache of having my father physically present, but emotionally absent. My father, like most parents, did the best that he could with what was presented to him. Being a first-generation immigrant to Canada his priority (and rightly so) has been to provide a safe home for his family to live in, healthy food for us to eat, and a good education. I continue to admire his perseverance, strength, and strong work ethic. Unfortunately, due to his own woundedness my emotional and mental wellbeing have been neglected.

Hence my desperate prayer to God. A prayer to an ache that previously had no words. After the release of this prayer years passed with seemingly no answer from God. Then, during a routine time of spiritual direction, I received what could only be described as a revelation from the Holy Spirit. A thought that came to mind, “St. Joseph. I have given you St. Joseph.” Suddenly it became clear. A quote here, a brief mention of him in a podcast there, consecrations to him throughout the years, different prayers dedicated to him… as I took time to reflect, I realized that St. Joseph had silently weaved his way into my life. St. Joseph, the man in which there are no records of his words, had quietly, but persistently tried to make his presence known to me.


Regarding Joseph’s fatherhood towards Jesus, Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet once shared in a sermon, “what he [St. Joseph] was not by nature, he was by affection.” St. Joseph (who was not the biological father of Jesus) took on the role of spiritual and adopted Father to Jesus with great care and devotion. What he was not physically by nature, he more than made up for in his affection towards Jesus. As there are only a few written accounts of St. Joseph’s interactions with Jesus, I would like to take the time to meditate on how St. Joseph displayed this affection to Mary, Jesus, and myself through different verses from the Praises of St. Joseph Prayer written by St. John Eudes (a link to this prayer can be found at the end of this piece). As you read the following words I invite you to insert yourself into these images, and to open yourself to being fathered by St. Joseph.


“Blessed thine eyes, which have seen the things which thou has seen.”


I can only imagine what it would have been like for St. Joseph to be entrusted with guarding and protecting Jesus and Mary. To be entrusted with God’s greatest treasures. St. Joseph blessed are your eyes.


Eyes that watched as the Word became flesh and was physically birthed into this world. Eyes that lovingly gazed upon Jesus as he slept. Eyes that searched for the lost Jesus with fear and anxiety. Eyes that watched as Jesus and Mary interacted with each other with love, affection, and playfulness. Eyes that watched with pride as Jesus took on the trade of carpentry with such precision and skill. Eyes that delighted in Jesus as he grew in age and wisdom.


Eyes that truly see me. Eyes that lovingly gaze upon me throughout my day. Eyes that have watched with tenderness as I wrestle and persevere in striving to know, love, and serve God. Eyes that look upon me with concern as I’ve sought out the love of my earthly and heavenly father in people and things that were not intended for me. Eyes that guide my steps while protecting me from harm. Eyes that see me as beautiful. Eyes that see me as his beloved daughter. Eyes that delight in me as I grow into the person whom God created me to be… Eyes that delight in you, just as you are.


“Blessed thine ears, which have heard the things which thou hast heard.”


St. Joseph blessed be your ears. Ears that were the recipient of all the ponderings of Mary’s heart. Ears that heard Mary’s sweet voice singing Jesus to sleep. Ears that heard and responded to the cries of baby Jesus. Ears that heard Jesus laughed. Ears that listened as Jesus sang the Psalms. Ears that would have been invited into divine conversations between the Holy Trinity.


Ears that listen to the stirrings of my heart, and the ponderings of my mind. Ears that hear me in times of distress. Ears that have heard and been present to me as I’ve cried out in desperation. Ears that cherish the sound of my voice, my dialogue with him. Ears that listen with joy as I turn to God throughout the day in prayer… Ears that wait to hear from you.


“Blessed thy hands, which have touched and handled the Incarnate Word.”


St. Joseph blessed are your hands. Hands that received Mary with reverence, and chaste affection. Hands that received the Word made flesh from the tabernacle of Mary’s womb and held him in your arms. Hands that fed baby Jesus, fed the Living Manna come down from heaven who would eventually nourish each of us in the Eucharist.


Hands that held Jesus’ hands as he taught him how to walk. Hands that held Jesus as he slept. Hands that tossed a ball around with Jesus. Hands that wiped Mary and Jesus’s tears, and regularly embraced them in love.


Hands that guided Jesus’ hands as he taught him the skill of carpentry. Hands that carried and crafted wood. A daily gesture that enabled him to provide for Jesus and Mary. A gesture that his son would one day imitate to provide everlasting life for each of us.


In prayer I have often imagined St. Joseph taking my hands. Taking my hands and placing them over Mary’s womb. All three of our hands overlapping on Mary’s stomach. Together all of us meditating on the goodness of God, while also being covered by a growing sense of peace. A peace that melts away my fears and anxieties.


Hands that have reached down to comfort me in my ache. The ache of wrestling with God’s timing in the healing of myself, my family, and my image of my earthly father. Hands that have directed me towards forgiveness. Hands that have wiped the tears from my eyes. Hands that guide me into his chest, into a warm embrace where I am encouraged to cling to the faithfulness of God…Hands that wait to embrace you. For you to entrust your hopes and dreams into his hands, and then wait as he and God crafts these desires into fruition.


Blessed be the Eternal Father, who chose thee.”


“He [St. Joseph] protects those who revere him and accompanies them on their journey through this life- just as he protected and accompanied Jesus when he was growing up… he teaches us to know Jesus and share our life with him, and to realize that we are God’s family.” -St. Josemaria Escriva


The more I spend time praying and turning to St. Joseph throughout the day, the more I come to see all the ways in which he has been accompanying and protecting me throughout the daily happenings of my life. My relationship with St. Joseph continues to show me that God hears and responds to all our prayers, even the prayers that we are afraid to say aloud. When I had first uttered my original prayer to God I was desiring and searching for a physical father figure to be present in all the ways that my earthly father was not. Instead, God gave me the very man with whom He entrusted His only begotten Son to. Aside from God himself, what other father figure could love me with a more perfect love than St. Joseph? Papa Joseph, implanted with the heart of the Father. My relationship with St. Joseph has reminded me that God’s ways are not my ways, for His ways are far better. Papa Joseph has revealed to me the depths of God the Father’s love for me; His desire to play an active role in my life. My spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing is not forgotten by Him, rather God cares deeply about all the details of my life and is working all things together for my good.


What prayers are you currently seeking answers to? What expectations have you placed on these desires? Today I invite you to go to St. Joseph, and allow him to accompany, protect, and aid you in waiting with hopeful expectation at the fulfillment of God’s plans for you.


Dear St. Joseph,


Please be a father to me now. Just as you accompanied and protected Jesus through the daily happenings of his hidden life in Nazareth, please be ever present in my life.


Accompany me through the joys, uncertainties, and anxieties of life. Help me to seek God’s will and trust in his timing. Accompany me through the trials of life as I strive to emulate the love of Christ which you know so well.


Please protect me from harm and the snares of the evil one. May your protection be the secure foundation through which I come to know the Father’s love for me; the foundation through which I lean into my identity as a beloved daughter of God.


St. Joseph be my companion now, and at the hour of my death.

Amen.


Praises of St. Joseph by St. John Eudes: https://stfrancisnewtonparish.com/praises-of-st-joseph-by-st-john-eudes/