St. Joseph protected Mary before the birth, and then afterward he continued his role as protector when he had to help them escape the wrath of the jealous and mad King Herod, who sought to kill the child. They fled, but not on the beaten paths, according to one source,* because they had to hide from Herod's soldiers, and therefore had to go into dangerous territory in order to avoid detection. They settled for short periods of time before moving on, and then were said to have lived a number of years in one town, though reviled as non-Egyptians and outsiders; Jews were not welcomed. (This might account for Jesus' extreme sensitivity toward aliens, foreigners, and outcasts during His ministry.) Joseph must have really struggled to provide for his family while being mistrusted and marginalized by the locals.
It is important to note that the church honors both of these saints: though St. Joseph is less known and St. Patrick's story is more widespread, Joseph is the saint to whom we owe the most. If not for him (and his spouse, Mary) we would not have had the Messiah come into the world. If Joseph had not accepted Mary into his heart and home, Jesus could not have been born, since unwed pregnant women were put to death as terrible sinners. Jesus had to have an earthly father in order to survive in that culture. And Jesus had to have a man worthy of the task to help keep Him safe and to raise Him into manhood. We do not know when Joseph died, but we do know he accomplished the task God gave to him. And we can be assured he did it well, content to exist in the background while Mary and Jesus are in the foreground. We need to call upon him to intercede for us. He may have lived a hidden life, but his prayer and intercession are very powerful.
So let us celebrate St. Patrick on the 17th with some revelry and joy, and let us celebrate St. Joseph on the 19th with a special meal with family or friends. Wear the Green and enjoy the treats from a St. Joseph altar! But in our merry-making and remembering our ancestry both ethnically and spiritually, let us not forget the reason for it all: Jesus. These saints did what they did in heroic service to their Lord and Savior. Above all they loved Him. And so, too, must we, following in their footsteps and example.
Sláinte and Buona salute!!!
May we be inspired by the saints to imitate Christ in whatever way we are called! May we call upon the intercession of St. Joseph to guide us when we are traveling or when we are in peril at times on our spiritual journey! May we call upon the intercession of St. Patrick when we are in need of spiritual strength to stand up to temptations against our faith! May we imitate St. Joseph in humility and in fidelity to God! May we imitate St. Patrick in boldness in our faith and joy in service! And may these Saints lead us to Jesus that we may find our own unique path to holiness! Let us continue to meet in the Heart of Jesus celebrating the joy of His love! Peace! Pace! Síochána!
©Michele L. Catanese
The photos are mine. The top photo was taken in County Galway, Ireland. In the trio of photos, left to right, is the church at Ballintubber which the sign in the middle picture shows was established by St. Patrick in 441AD. The picture on the right is of the Dingle Peninsula.
Next is the icon St. Joseph and the Holy Child by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/gallery-views/holy-men-icons/product/50-st-joseph-and-the-holy-child
The next photo is mine, of an olivewood carving of the Flight into Egypt which was carved in Israel and given to me as a gift.
The next icon is St. Joseph Shadow of the Father, also by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/gallery-views/holy-men-icons/product/51-st-joseph-shadow-of-the-father
The last icon of St. Patrick and is from a delightful page which invites us to test our knowledge of Ireland: http://denverlibrary.org/blog/its-all-irish-test-your-knowledge-st-patricks-day. You can have some fun with that if you wish!