Sunday, January 24, 2010

For the Love of St. Joseph I

March 19, 2008, was a decisive day for me. Easter Vigil was three days away, as was my reception into the Catholic Church. Throughout RCIA, I had planned to take Thomas More as my confirmation name, but I came into Mass that morning and discovered that it was the Feast of St. Joseph. That did it. St. Joseph took me by surprise.
I had been utterly clueless about him until that morning of March 19. In fact, I had even thought that the statue at the head of the right aisle in our church, which illustrates this post, was of St. Peter. I think it was Ferde who set me straight about that, as he has set me straight about many things Catholic.

I decided to take Joseph as my confirmation name because I realized that St. Joseph represents something more important to me than all of the worldly accomplishments or moral courage of Thomas More; Joseph represents the good father. For me, that is the highest standard, a bar that sometimes looks way over my head, although my own father seemed to glide over it effortlessly.

St. Joseph became my patron, and when my father got sick and died over the ensuing six months, I spent many minutes kneeling before this statue and another one in the Catholic Church in my parents’ town. I found myself in front of St. Joseph again this morning, under less dramatic but still compelling circumstances. Other than Mary, Joseph is the only saint I have prayed to, but I do pray to him. I believe that my prayers are heard.

St. Joseph’s Day is still nearly two months away, but I’d like to dedicate a few posts to him between now and then. Yesterday morning in men’s group, a non-parishioner and non-Catholic, Kirk Kvistad, gave a beautiful presentation of his own prayer-song compositions. I wish I could share some of these with you via MP3, but they’re not available yet.

However, Kirk started off the meeting with a prayer to St. Joseph that I had not seen before, and I can share that:

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I confide in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls—Pray for me.

According to a footnote Kirk passed along, “This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505, it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or be burned in any fire, or be overpowered in battle.”

I do not know on what authority, if any, this footnote was written. But I do not disbelieve it.