Imitating Saint Joseph

By Sister Jeanne Rodgers, Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden

A reflection and poetry in honor of her congregation’s patron saint

Even the carpenter from Nazareth knew uncertainty and disappointment, concern about the future, but he also knew how to walk in the dark of certain moments letting himself be guided without reservation, by God’s will.

– Pope Francis’ address March 19, 2020, the Feast of Saint Joseph

In this Year of Saint Joseph, these words of Pope Francis spoken a year ago echo, perhaps, more resoundingly and relevantly during “the dark of certain moments” of the pandemic. Yet, just as Joseph was led by God’s will, so must we place our trust in God’s comforting and healing hands.

During this time of uncertainty and upheaval in our lives, what can we learn and model from Joseph whom we honor on March 19, the feast day of Saint Joseph? As a Sister of Saint Joseph of Baden, I draw inspiration from our Congregation’s patron in my poetry and prayers:

Joseph believed in God
He heard the whispers of angels
And trusted the depths of his dreams

Discerning these whispers, Joseph moved forward with courage and conviction in the guidance received from such grace. He longed for right relationship and depended on God for grace. He obeyed an angel’s message in a dream to care for Mary even though mystery surrounded her motherhood. May we, too, depend on God’s grace to carry us through challenging times of isolation,  and for some of us, through the loss of a loved one.

In my own journey of grief
I have come to understand
that the balm of grief is gratitude.

Known as the patron saint of the dying, Joseph relied unconditionally on the grace and guidance of God through his living and his dying. In his life, he labored quietly as a carpenter, a woodworker who apprenticed his son, engaged in prayer, and embraced the responsibilities of a father and husband. May we, too, use our gifts joyfully and creatively and labor for the common good and glory of God.

Joseph moved through one moment at a time
and knew the power of the ordinary
and extraordinary in his living.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph also associate Saint Joseph with gentleness and cordiality. In that manner, we pray that we may imitate him in our own journeys of mission and ministry as we move always toward profound love of God and neighbor without distinction – without regard to circumstances and status.

Joseph, an immigrant, fled into Egypt – no matter the cost – to protect Mary and Jesus without complaint and with wisdom and grace. May we, too, be inspired by Joseph and welcome the stranger among us with love, compassion and union with God and all dear neighbors. Although historically little is known of Joseph, we know that we can turn to Joseph to help us nurture the life of Christ in our own lives. In this year of Saint Joseph, may we learn to:

Carefully discern our actions
as we learn the meaning
of sacrifice and surrender
in our living and our dying,
and our dependence on the grace of God.

May Joseph inspire us to be a hopeful and healing presence in our families and in our communities.