Saint Joseph and Friends: Our Lenten Helpers

by Theresa Cavicchio

As the feast of Saint Joseph arrives, several weeks of Lent have passed. At this point, our Lenten efforts toward prayer, fasting, and almsgiving may be beginning to pale. Now could be the perfect time to focus on some sterling qualities of Jesus’ earthly father as they relate to these traditional Lenten practices. We may find therein some fresh ideas to carry us spiritually through the remainder of Lent.

To help us along this road, we turn to three intercessions from the Litany of Saint Joseph, and to some saintly helpers, all of whom fostered a great devotion to him. The quotes which follow are cited in Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Father Donald Calloway, MIC.

Mirror of Patience – for help with Prayer

What an impatient world we live in today! Widespread use of instantaneous technology feeds a frenzy of non-stop activity. The more we have available at our fingertips, at lightning speed, the more impatient we become.

Try to imagine the holy patience of Saint Joseph as he sought a suitable setting for the birth of Jesus; led his little family on long, dangerous journeys; and taught Jesus the rudiments of carpentry. Through all life situations, Saint Joseph’s holy patience was underscored by prayer – heartfelt, unceasing prayer to the Heavenly Father who had placed such exceptional confidence in him.

“The flower of Israel [Saint Joseph] had … a patience more heroic than that of Job and of Tobias, and a zeal greater than that of Elijah for the glory of God.” – Blessed Gabriele Allegra

My prayer: Saint Joseph, Mirror of Patience, help me to follow your example of patience born of heartfelt prayer like yours – patience with every person and every situation I encounter, and patience with myself. Help me to make patience through prayer the foundation of all my Lenten endeavors.

Joseph Most Prudent – for help with Fasting

Prudence has been defined by Saint Thomas Aquinas as “right reason in action.” Sacred Scripture, while devoid of words spoken by Saint Joseph, reveals many examples of his ability to live out this virtue. Think of his springing into action when prompted to do so in heaven-sent dreams (Mt 1:18– 24; 2:13 – 14; 19 – 21). Yet, when Saint Joseph heard that Herod’s son had become ruler of Judea, it was prudence that prevented him from returning there out of justified concern for his family’s safety (2:22).

“Saint Joseph teaches us that prudence is correct knowledge … of things that ought to be done and of things that should be avoided.” – Servant of God John A. Hardon

My prayer: Saint Joseph Most Prudent, teach me to approach Lenten fasting with a clear recognition of activities I should avoid, and also of ways to elevate my sacrifices to a higher purpose – offering them for those most in need or consoling Jesus in His sufferings on my behalf.

Lover of Poverty – for help with Almsgiving

The idea of poverty as a state of living is one that makes us uncomfortable at best and downright terrified at worst. As applied to the Holy Family, however, we can see poverty from a different viewpoint. The household at Nazareth, headed by Saint Joseph, was far from rich in material wealth but plentifully abundant in holiness and love. We can assume that the little they had would have been shared generously and willingly with someone in need – family member, neighbor, or stranger.

“Truly, I doubt not that the angels, wondering and adoring, came thronging in countless multitudes to that poor workshop to admire the humility of him who guarded that dear and divine child, and labored at his carpenter’s trade to support the son and the mother who were committed to his care.” – Saint Francis de Sales

My prayer: Saint Joseph, Lover of Poverty, increase my awareness of the tremendous needs of so many, at home and abroad, and of what I can do to help alleviate them. Inspire within me the same generosity of heart that exemplified your Holy Family, despite minimal resources for sharing. Help me to remember that alms need not be limited to financial donations (treasure); time and talent are also worthwhile means to “spread the wealth.” Guide me toward opportunities for all three, and then help me to carry them out.

With Saint Joseph and his saintly friends as helpers and guides, we can find deeper meaning in our approach to the remaining weeks of Lent – a most worthwhile way to honor Saint Joseph on his feast day, and to Easter and beyond.

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