Profiles of Courage: Reflections on St. Joseph

If Hollywood makes a movie about the life of St. Joseph, the lead character would have a non-speaking role based upon his dialogue in the Bible. He is never quoted, but readers can garner much about this holy man of few words based on his actions.  

This significant silent partner in raising the Savior of the world exhibited courage in the Lord and his decisions to obey are observed several times in the gospel. 

Beyond those stories, modern day Christians are left to fill in the blanks. Believers can find inspiration in his obedient courage and find ways to emulate him. This year, the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal is highlighting St. Joseph’s virtues and inviting people to put their own courage into action and donate to the largest fundraiser of the year that results in touching the most lives. 

The following are personal reflections on St. Joseph by fellow Archdiocese members. As a reader, please consider your own answers to these questions and how you might want to put your own courage into action, like St. Joseph. 

Lauren Castillo 
Director of Development at Students for Life of America 

What do you remember learning about, or thinking about, St. Joseph when you were a child? 
When I was little, we had this beautiful very masculine, rugged looking St. Joseph statue at our parish, Notre Dame, and I was drawn to it for as long as I remember. I would always think that he had to have been such an incredible protector of the Holy Family, but he had a tenderness in his eyes. Growing up it reminded me of my dad, someone who would protect our family but was gentle and approachable at the same time.  

Have you ever prayed specifically to St. Joseph about something? 
All the time nowadays. After attending a women’s retreat with the Sisters of Life, I left with a deep devotion to St. Joseph and since my husband chose him as his confirmation saint last year, we have entrusted many of our family prayer intentions to St. Joseph. We are starting the consecration to St. Joseph in a few weeks! 

What words come to mind when you think of St. Joseph?  
Terror of Demons. I think it is such a powerful depiction of someone who is somewhat unexpected to have that title but is well deserving of it. He raised the Son of God and protected our mother Mary and continues to protect our own family as we orient our lives to Christ every day and work to build a holy family and sacred space in our home.  

How would you describe St. Joseph to someone unfamiliar with his story? 
St. Joseph is the best balance of strong, comforting, helpful, and devout. His love and faithfulness to the Lord enabled him to set a firm foundation for the Holy Family, have the courage to journey what were most likely dangerous and scary trips to keep his family safe from the time Mary was pregnant with Jesus and as he grew older, and embodies the definition of a hard worker.  St. Joseph is such a relatable saint in that he worked a job like most of us and is an example for us to approach work with intentionality, care, and prayer. He is a heavy hitter when it comes to our prayer intentions and I just imagine him embracing us with a hug when we need it most while fighting off the evil forces around us to keep us safe. 

If you could ask St. Joseph a question, what would you ask? 
What were your favorite memories of Jesus as he was growing up?  

How have you tried to live courageously like St. Joseph? 
I have tried to have his gumption when it comes to the unexpected moments in life. I strive to rise to the occasion of the challenges in life as St. Joseph did when he was visited by Archangel Gabriel, rather than living in worry and resentment. 

Jason Martinez 
Shrine of St. Anne 
Middle school science and theology teacher 

What do you remember learning about, or thinking about, St. Joseph when you were a child? 
I remember learning that St. Joseph was the earthly father of Christ. I don’t remember learning much more about St. Joseph as a child. 

Have you ever prayed specifically to St. Joseph about something? 
In my adulthood I have found myself praying to St. Joseph with more frequency. I pray to Joseph for more patience and understanding. 

What words come to mind when you think of St. Joseph? 
I think of the words patient and understanding. I can’t imagine a more apt role model for patience and understanding than Joseph. I think it takes a very big person to put others before oneself, and I believe Joseph spent his life doing that as the earthly father of Christ.  

How would you describe St. Joseph to someone unfamiliar with his story? 
St. Joseph was the husband of Mary, the Mother of Christ. He was engaged to Mary when she was told she would give birth to the Son of God, and upon finding this news out Joseph chose to raise the child as his own son.  

If you could ask St. Joseph a question, what would you ask? 
Were there times after you committed to raising Jesus as your own son that you felt your patience and understanding wear thin? I would also love to know what living with a teenage Jesus was like. 

How have you tried to live courageously like St. Joseph? 
I try to approach every situation with an open mind and an open heart. I find courage in the act of subverting one’s own desires for the benefit of others. I try to be honest and true to my students, and I try to show everyone I meet true Catholic Charity, even people who can be difficult. 

Angela Urban 
St. Mary Catholic Church, Littleton 

What do you remember learning about or thinking about St. Joseph when you were a child?   
My grandmother had a beautiful love and devotion to St. Joseph.  I remember her talking about his humility and obedience and his very important role in the Holy Family.  She spoke so highly of him, even expressing her strong feelings that he should have more recognition and honor.  I remember how excited she was when his name was added in the Eucharistic prayers of the Mass. She would do things like make sure her Christmas card had St. Joseph on it.  Her love for him was infectious – it created a love in me too, and I ultimately chose him as my Confirmation saint.  This year will be the fifth anniversary of her passing, and I imagine and pray that she is celebrating joyously in Heaven for a year marked for her beloved St. Joseph.  

Have you ever prayed specifically to St. Joseph about something?   
I have prayed for St. Joseph’s intercession numerous times.  Most notably, in my youth, I prayed for a 
husband who would be like St. Joseph.  My husband and I, along with our children, prayed for the house we own and live in now, as it was a unique situation, seemingly impossible.  After each Mass that I attend, whether Sunday or weekday, I pray a St. Joseph prayer my grandmother taught me for his intercession for the holiness and vocations of my four sons.      

What words come to mind when you think of St. Joseph? 
So many words come to mind, mainly virtues – humility, silence, obedience, attentiveness to God’s word and will, strength, courage, servant-leader, guardian, protector.  

How would you describe St. Joseph to someone unfamiliar with his story? 
I would say that he was the husband of Mary, Mother of God, and the foster father of Jesus Christ, Son of God.  His role was so important, overseeing our Lord’s birth, the Incarnation, and protecting, guiding, and leading an immaculate Mary and the Messiah.  I would give examples from what we know of Joseph’s life that showed his attentiveness and obedience to God’s will, like marrying Mary who was with child, finding a place for his wife to give birth in a city with no open inns, suddenly needing to flee to Egypt to prevent Herod from killing Jesus, and finding the child Jesus after losing Him.  In all these stressful situations, however, St. Joseph remained ever faithful.  I would point out something that has always struck me – that we don’t have any record of his words, yet we can learn so much from him, easily recognizing his many virtues.        

If you could ask St. Joseph a question, what would you ask? 
I would ask two questions. One, I would ask him to pray for my husband’s and my sons’ holiness, and second, I would ask how I can be an aid in that as a wife and mother. 

How have you tried to live courageously like St. Joseph? 
I continually seek to have St. Joseph’s attentiveness to God’s will and his surrender to that holy will.  There have been times in our lives that our Lord has asked us to do things that seem unreasonable and irrational, like moving temporarily to San Francisco, pregnant with our sixth child, or buying an unlivable house, one with holes in the floors and ceilings and no plumbing, heat, or electrical.  All those things in life we can’t explain in the moment, but later we see the beautiful blessing of them.   

What role/if any has St. Joseph played in your life? 
We have claimed St. Joseph as patron of our family.  Since I credit his intercession for finding my husband, who also chose St. Joseph as his Confirmation saint, I would say he plays a very big role. I am sincerely grateful and oftentimes amazed by my husband, who truly does exemplify so many of St. Joseph’s virtues. When I pray for my husband, in gratitude for him or through difficult moments or big decisions in life, for his leadership of our family, and his vocation as husband to me, father of a large family and spiritual father to many, I pray specifically for St. Joseph’s intercession.  In addition, our first born son, who was also the first grandson after 11 granddaughters, is named Joseph.  We speak of St. Joseph often, and each year have a big celebration where we invite all our friends and family to stop by for sundaes on his solemnity.  We will also honor him in this special year by rebuilding a structure we have in our backyard. It is where a statue of Mary is, but it needs repair.  The structure represents protection of Mary, so it seems fitting. 

Father Joseph McLagan 
Pastor of St. Bernadette Parish 

What do you remember learning about or thinking about St. Joseph when you were a child? 
I didn’t learn much of St. Joseph growing up as a young boy. I got to learn more about him later in my life around my twenties. I learned only what were the peculiarities of him. That he was father to Jesus, a carpenter, there was no recorded words of his in Sacred Scripture.  

Have you ever prayed specifically to St. Joseph about something? 
All the time. Specifically for patience, to terrorize demons, for chastity, humility, diligence to responsibilities without boasting and for a happy death.  

What words come to mind when you think of St. Joseph? 
Simple, quiet, paternal, resolute, loving.  
 
How would you describe St. Joseph to someone unfamiliar with his story? 
He was a man through and through, masculine without compromise and loving to those in his care and concern. Diligent to tasks and formative for Jesus in his humanity. 

If you could ask St. Joseph a question, what would you ask? 
What was it like to teach Jesus? Also, tell me a joke. 

How have you tried to live courageously like St. Joseph? 
Often, and sometimes with evident failure, and but resolute to seek the grace of his Son and ask for his intercession. 

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash