So…you get a flock of faithful Catholics together at a religious convention and they play a question/answer game. An obvious question: If you could meet any Saint, who would it be and what would you ask them?
This generates some fairly predictable answers: St Theresa, St Therese, St John Paul, St Ignatius and so forth. But for me, it would be St Joseph.
What a man of faith and devotion. He is engaged to a young woman who is suddenly pregnant and he knows he isn’t the father – but he embraces his role as the earthly father of God. He protects his young wife and son, fleeing with them to a foreign land. He stays in the background, providing food and shelter for the family, working as a carpenter, a completely faceless and unknown figure in the Bible. Unquoted. Uncredited.
In fact, what I’ve recounted in the last paragraph is about as much as we know about him.
There are so many questions I could ask him…
What sort of a boy was Jesus? Was he studious? Was he athletic?
Was Mary a good cook? Did she sew? Did she sing?
But the one question I would ask is how he came to peace with being completely selfless.
Selflessness is the most important attribute for a father – and the one many of us struggle with the most, being the imperfect humans we are, prone to wanting what we want.
In the movie “Parenthood” the mom and dad are having a silly argument about family priorities and the dad, played by Steve Martin, complains, “my whole world is have to.”
It is a sentiment fathers often feel (moms too), as in have to get up early, have to go to work, have to shovel the show in the driveway, have to mow the lawn, have to take out the garbage, have to pick up the kids after soccer practice, have to, have to have to.
But I have a feeling that St Joseph thought more in terms of “my whole life is blessed to.” And I would ask how he came to live life in such a beautiful state. As my family could attest, I could use the advice.