Skip to comments.How I Rediscovered a "Neglected" Saint: Work of Art Inspires Young Man to Rediscover St. Joseph
Posted on 03/02/2003 3:46:22 PM PST by Pyro7480
How I rediscovered a neglected saint
Work of art inspires young man to rediscover St. Joseph
by Father Joseph, MIC
I had just returned to Washington, DC, after several years of college and graduate school. I was looking for work and -- most importantly -- to see if God was calling me to priesthood and the religious life.
To my joy, I got a job as a tour guide at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. My first assignment was to study in great detail all the sacred art of the Shrine.
In my study, I discovered something that I did not expect. I had just approached the main altar, my attention fixed on the central image in the sanctuary of Christ in majesty. Suddenly, the large mosaic of St. Joseph that you see here came into view overhead. Located in the east apse, it had remained hidden from my view in the main church.
As I gazed at the image of St. Joseph, I could see the great tenderness with which he held the Child Jesus. I began to understand why God the Father had entrusted the protection of His Only Begotten Son to this man.
I noticed that the main figure of St. Joseph with a family at his feet was surrounded by a multitude of peoples from different nations and ages. This symbolized his role as Patron of the Universal Church. Another mosaic in this section showed Pope John XXIII and participants of the Second Vatican Council, indicating how they had chosen St. Joseph as their patron.
I then realized that this humble saint had remained hidden in my own life. Growing up, even though I chose "Joseph" as my confirmation name, I did not think of St. Joseph as a particularly inspiring saint. I don't remember ever asking for his help during my school studies.
Now I wondered, after studying these mosaics, if he could be a powerful patron for me.
I turned to him shyly at first and then more frequently in prayer for the grace of discerning my vocation. When I was accepted to the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception 10 months later, I knew that he had helped to guide my decision.
As a young Marian, my knowledge of this special saint grew. I discovered that several members of my religious family had a great devotion to him. One was the late Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC, the founding Director of the Association of Marian Helpers. On Wednesdays, whenever the Church calendar allowed for it, he would offer a votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph. Father Pelczynski also shared with me how important St. Joseph's intercession had been in establishing our religious houses in Stockbridge, MA, and Washington, DC, as well as the Marian Helpers Center also in Stockbridge.
As I have served in Stockbridge myself, I have grown to appreciate why my Marian community chose to place St. Joseph's statue on the main road leading up onto Eden Hill. As the protector and guardian of the Holy Family, he desires to lead us to Jesus and Mary. So our visitors and pilgrims are greeted by him first and then by the statue of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, in the parking plaza and the one of Our Lady in front of the Marian Helpers Center.
It's no coincidence, then, that St. Joseph is one of the main patrons of the Association of Marian Helpers. In fact, in my work as "Fr. Joseph, MIC," I turn to him frequently in prayer. That's why in every spring issue of this magazine, my fellow Marians and I invite you to join with us in our Novena of Holy Masses in his honor before his feast day on March 19.
But there's more to St. Joseph's role. Do you notice in the mosaic the modern family at his feet?
Because of his care of the Holy Family, St. Joseph is seen as a source of inspiration and strength for families today. His example of being a man of prayer, a protector and guardian, and a humble servant of the Lord is especially important for fathers.
In my reflections for this article, I've come to better understand St. Joseph's role in the Holy Family by comparing it to my father's care for me during my childhood in Poland.
First, I considered how the saint's obedience to God in difficult situations shows him to be a man of faith and prayer. Though he surely wondered about Mary's miraculous pregnancy, he was quick to obey when the angel told him in a dream to take her as his wife. Matthew the Evangelist tells us that he left for Egypt immediately with Jesus and Mary when an angel told him in yet another dream that Herod sought the newborn King's life. I can see Joseph praying quietly not only at these critical moments, but every day of his life. I can see him entrusting his family to the Lord and asking for God's protection and blessings.
My father was a man of prayer, too. Before work, he would sit quietly in some corner of the house and pray the rosary. Daily rosary was very important to him. He told me of surviving situations of extreme danger during World War II with a rosary in his hand. Likewise, I remember how he would always pray before doing any work or starting on any journey. Before trips, he would make the Sign of the Cross and say, "Let us go in the name of the Lord."
My father protected what was his as well. He would go out of the house during violent storms to see if our farm had sustained any damage from lightning strikes and gusts of wind. At these times, he would check the barn and walk around our property. As a youngster, I would worry about my father's safety, but I greatly admired his courage.
These memories of my father have helped me to imagine the same characteristics in St. Joseph. His task to be guardian and protector of the Holy Family was even greater. There was the time when Joseph was called to protect and guard the Holy Family from the violent plot of Herod who wished to kill the Child. Since he had to flee in secret, he probably had to take less traveled roads and paths, which in turn made the journey even more dangerous.
Joseph was also a humble and unassuming man who simply and quietly obeyed the Lord. In fact, the Gospels do not record a single word of his, but his actions speak volumes.
Likewise, my father in communist Poland continued to practice his faith quietly yet openly. He did so knowing that any public display of faith meant no social opportunities or promotion -- but persecution instead. Although he had his faults, he was a humble man like St. Joseph. My father -- who has passed away -- was a man of quiet prayer and strength who simply provided for his family and took care of what God had given him.
I am so grateful to God for the grace of rediscovering St. Joseph. I pray that through his patronage, the Universal Church, my Marian community, and every family may be guarded and protected.
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest 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 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 departed souls, pray for me.
Glorious St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary, grant us, we beseech thee, thy paternal protection, through the Heart of Jesus Christ.
O Thou whose infinite power reaches out to all our needs, rendering possible for us that which is impossible, look upon the concerns of thy children with thy fatherly countenance.
In the troubles and sorrows that afflict us, we have confident recourse to thee.
Deign to take under thy loving protection this important and difficult endeavor, the cause of our worries, and dispose its success to the glory of God and to the benefit of His faithful servants. Amen.