On this solemn Feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary and Protector of the Universal Church, my thoughts go out to all fathers, guardians, and workers of every sort who are trying to provide for themselves and others. These are stark days of uncertainty and insecurity. Joseph was skilled at taking materials and crafting them into something that would enhance life for others. We need Joseph’s willingness to step into the insecurity of a situation where he was not in complete control, as the angel calls him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home, his heart. He doesn’t have to pretend to have it all figured out, but can in the midst of partial consciousness what God is up to and partial ignorance, his fears are quieted and he keeps a sense of peace that frees him to bless and support others.
I’m encouraged in my own role as spiritual father by the counsel of the Swiss physician and mystic, Adrienne von Speyr: “As in every human work there is an element of risk (for it could fail), so also the work in the Father’s harvest often not only is hard but also arouses fear. This fear is a sign that faith, hope, and love are alive" (emphasis added, Water and Spirit: Meditations on Saint John’s Gospel, p. 147). So I guess we don’t have to “flush” or pretend there is no fear, but fold it into the situations and choices before us with acts of trust fitted together with Spirit-powered nails of prayer.
In this regard, I became aware a couple months ago of Pope Francis’ devotion to the sleeping St. Joseph (see image). When the Holy Father retires at night, he places his more thorny intentions under the statue of St. Joseph, and is able to find rest amid his awesome responsibilities in the belief that, just as for the dreaming St. Joseph, God is at work when we relinquish our fretting and calculations, and abide in patience and peace.
A special shout out today to Des Moines Bishop Emeritus Joseph Charron, C.PP.S, on his patronal feastday!