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We forget that every saint was once ordinary.

So it is with Saint Joseph. Maybe that is why I was as surprised as most of the Catholic world when Pope Francis declared 2021 as a “Year of St. Joseph”.

I knew of the Pope’s personal devotion. Some time ago he shared

“When I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!”

Pope Francis said he can sleep peacefully at the end of the day after he entrusts these special intentions to St. Joseph, and that now St. Joseph “sleeps on a mattress of notes!”

God calls ordinary people

One of the most prominent people in the life of Jesus Christ, St. Joseph, his foster father, is also one of the quietest. He is one of the most overlooked people in the Bible and in the Holy Family, especially given his role..

So, Pope Francis says “this Year of St. Joseph is to bring our attention to this “extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience.

“This year as we reflect upon St. Joseph, his life and virtues, we see that God calls “ordinary” people to bring about His plan for the salvation of the world. He wants us to appreciate how “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked… “

He continues

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.

St. Jospeh never made headlines

And most likely, neither will we!

… How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all”.[6] 

Especially in this time of COVID…“People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others.

Think about the crises he faced… and their parallels today…

  • Doubt – How reconcile his love for Mary with his obligation to put her away when he learned of her pregnancy. (Mt. 1:18-19)
  • Frustration – not being able to find lodging when his wife was about to give birth. (Lk 2:7)
  • Anxiety and fear for the future
    • Being told by Simeon and Anna that he, his wife, and his son would suffer deeply. (Lk 2:34-35)
    • Having to flee into another country to protect himself and his family. (Mt. 2:13)
  • Panic – searching three days for his son (Luke 1: 45, 46, 48.)

As we experience doubt, frustration, anxiety, fear, even panic, we can learn from “quiet one” how to trust in whatever God asks of us.

Food for thought

  • Have you ever thought of Joseph experiencing the same emotions we face?
  • Are you willing to ask Joseph to tell you the range of what he experienced?
  • Can we entrust our cares to St. Joseph?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk