reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

Today is St. Joseph’s Feast Day. I have an ever increasing devotion to Jesus’ foster father. This man who was chosen by God to look after Our Lady and Our Lord. The Liturgy this morning says, “You served the Lord and His mother, and you were their constant companion both day and night. You carried on your arm the One Who carries the world, and you supported the One Who supports all mankind. You spoke with the eternal Word, and you were the guardian of His mother, the blessed virgin betrothed to you in purity. O mystery of Jacob realized! O true and perfect dream come true! how blessed are you among the saints and honorable among virgins.”

Over my first cup of coffee this morning, I was pondering this mysterious St. Joseph who isn’t recorded as saying anything in Scripture, but how loud his faith echoes through eternity!

As I sipped my coffee by my cozy fire, I pondered how in the absence of a man of the house Jesus has generously given us his father. We daily place ourselves under his protection and patronage. If, as the Litany says, “He made him lord over his house hold and prince over all his possessions” that includes my little family and our old farmhouse too.

One way St. Joseph has looked after us is through godly men in our community. As I meditated on this, I started praying for the men in my life who offer their fatherhood, their strength, their masculinity in service of others—like me—who don’t have a man in their home.

When I was so sick and could not split my wood for winter, men showed up with chainsaws and wood-splitters. All winter we have benefited from their labors.

When I was in the hospital and needed a ride men came to my rescue to carry me to and from, to sit with me, advocate for me, and comfort me.

When the work projects around my home completely stalled and trauma stared back at me in the unfinished aspects and damage around me, men showed up to do everything from drywall, to wiring, to siding, to chimneys in exchange for nothing more than food and friendship.

Friendship under the patronage of St. Joseph can flourish between men and women with an intensity of affection to which the response is awe.

Good men have taken my children under their wing to show them what true masculinity looks like. They have treated me with respect, dignity, and love repairing my heart from years of feeling vulnerable and isolated. God looks at them and says, “Very good.”

I could write essays on how they have demonstrated that “toxic” and “masculinity” aren’t words that go together. I have wept out of the sheer comfort and solace they have offered me.

Men get such a bad rap in our culture. Men are constantly encouraged to embrace their so-called feminine side, meanwhile the world is starving for true masculinity. Men are told to be less aggressive, quieter, follow instead of lead. As the lines between the sexes continue to blur, I am blessed beyond measure to know men who are comfortable with their strength, that shout when courage demands it, that lead by example and instruction. They are comfortable in their own skin and their presence is a refuge to everyone around them, whether those around them acknowledge that shelter or not.

My heart quite literally overflows with gratitude to men in my life who walk in the footsteps of St. Joseph.

What does it take for a man to offer love, protection, service, and strength to women and children who are not their own, to whom they bear no obvious obligation?

“The just man shall flourish like a palm tree and become like the cedar. In Lebanon shall he flourish and grow. For he has spent himself doing God’s will. The light spread forth and darkness has fled.” (From today’s Liturgy)

To all the very good men who take care of other people’s families, you need to know that your reward is eternal and your intercessor St. Joseph has blazed a trail and set an example and I have this feeling (call it a hunch) that he is very proud of you. I am his daughter and I am proud of you.

Today I pray that God would increase your influence in the world, that God would multiply your children and grandchildren, that there would be peace and grace in your hearts and homes in such abundance for all the peace and grace you have created in mine.

St. Joseph, chaste guardian, foster father, diligent protector, pray for my friends and all men who walk in your footsteps.

(These pictures do not represent everyone to whom I am grateful or an exhaustive list of everything they have done. This is just one little blog post, not the encyclopedia I could produce.)

One thought on “In The Footsteps of St. Joseph

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