Talk about good news. I recently received the quarterly magazine published by the Dominican Sisters…
Now is the time of St. Joseph
St. Joseph decided to pop into my life when I was a sophomore in college. During spring of that year, I prayed a novena — a nine day prayer — to St. Joseph with the simple hope of receiving a little extra grace to trust God during a particularly emotional time. The last thing I expected was for the quiet father of Christ to make his presence known is such an apparent way.
Now, if you know anything about novenas, you might be familiar with the popular devotion to St. Thérèse, who is known for sending the answer to the novena through the sign of a rose. (Now, before any warning bells go off, novenas are not to be treated like Catholic fortune telling. Rather, they are opportunities to ask the saints for guidance and special prayers to help make decisions and rely on God’s grace.) Other saints, too, are known for sending physical signs as the answer to specific prayers. In the case of St. Joseph, his symbol is the lily.
The novena ended on a Saturday, the feast of St. Joseph and the day before Palm Sunday that year. Over the weekend, I was helping with a girl’s retreat at my home parish. And yes, you guessed it, there were flowers — in my particular case, a lily.
As I mentioned, I did not enter into the novena asking for a tangible sign. So, at first, I mostly shrugged it off. But over the following weeks, St. Joseph’s presence, and the answer to my prayer, became unmistakable.
One evening after Easter, my friends and I were gathered in our dorm room chatting and working on homework. One of the girls had brought us each an Easter gift — a card and some chocolate. I randomly grabbed a card without realizing the design on the front — another lily. Opening the card, I read the inside prayer and had a sudden moment of clarity. It was the beginning lines of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” All of a sudden, everything clicked into place — mostly.
The following weeks followed an interesting series of events that led me to truly pray the Serenity Prayer through my actions — accepting that a certain situation might not change, taking a leap of courage with small steps of faith, and finally having the wisdom to understand that God was not leading me down a certain path. Ultimately (and after another novena, this time to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots), I found what I was truly looking for: peace that God’s will would triumph over my stubborn desires.
March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, the earthly father of Christ and, therefore, our father. While St. Joseph has not always been the most direct through his intercession, he has never failed to guide me closer to the will of God. And each year since that first novena, I have prayed this novena in anticipation of his feast day.
This year is a little different as I am currently in the middle of a consecration to St. Joseph, using a recent book by Father Don Calloway, a priest with the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. While I don’t know what St. Joseph has in store for me and the many other Catholics consecrating themselves to our spiritual father, I believe one thing. As Father Calloway says in the introduction of his book, now is the time of St. Joseph.
In a time where the family — and fatherhood in particular — is under attack, we need our spiritual father. Not only is he named Protector of the Church, but the titles of St. Joseph also include Pillar of Families, Head of the Holy Family and Diligent Protector of Christ. Besides the Blessed Mother, there is no one more equipped to intercede for our world — and you as an individual — today.
Whether or not you have a devotion to St. Joseph, I encourage you to begin praying to him. Ask him to intercede for your family. Ask him to pray for the priests in your life and your diocese. Asks him to protect you from the lies of the evil one and to direct you closer to Christ. St. Joseph, pray for us!
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.