Greetings my brother and sisters,
I hope your Season of Lent is progressing well and you are being well prepared for the celebration of the central moment of our Christian faith: the Easter Triduum celebrating the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. May these final weeks of our Lenten journey find us being ever more prayerful, charitable and sacrificial, following the holy example of our Savior.
Continuing our consideration of the new invocations placed in the Litany of St. Joseph by Pope Francis, we come to the one which might be most personal to our Holy Father: support in difficulties. I say this because on a number of occasions, the Pope has expressed his belief that St. Joseph is a great saint to invoke when one is having problems. Specifically, he has shared his devotion to the “Sleeping St. Joseph”. He has an image of St. Joseph asleep under which he places in writing a particular difficulty or situation of which he needs guidance and support. He finds comfort in knowing that the one who was of great support of Mary and Jesus in very trying times is there to watch over and intercede for him in his difficulties.
I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church!
In his Apostolic Letter for the Year of St. Joseph, Patris Corde, Pope Francis speaks of St. Joseph as a support in these words:
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
Notice the emphasis on how the Pope sees Joseph carrying out his support: unnoticed, daily, discreet and hidden. Joseph does not reach out in support to be recognized or praised. In fact, much of the support he provided for Mary and Jesus even in extraordinary moments (think of the threat to Jesus by King Herod and his successor Archelaus) had to be hidden and discreet in order to not draw notice and increase the danger. How often we are tempted to reach out in support hoping that our “generosity” and “concern” will be noticed and praised! And this at times undermines the very support we are supposedly providing because those being helped might feel used and manipulated
In our vocation discernment, we certainly need support and nobody better than St. Joseph to provide this. However, we also need to ensure that our discernment is not motivated by a desire to be recognized and noticed. We must desire to be of service to God’s will and God’s people in living out the vocation God has for us and leave recognition and appreciation in God’s hands as well. Otherwise, we run the risk of discerning a call which is not from God at all but centered in our desires. May St. Joseph guide and support us to be faithful in our vocation discernment by seeking only the will and glory of God.
I wish you all a very Blessed and Holy Easter Triduum and Season.
Fr. Brian, OSJ