How often did I hear those words from my Dad when I was growing up! My Dad was a tough shipyard worker, a welder. He practiced his Catholic faith devoutly, but not in a showy or pushy way. He didn’t go around preaching, but neither was he afraid to stand up for his faith when he felt he needed to. And he definitely had a great love and admiration for St. Joseph. He turned to St. Joseph for one need after another and claimed that St. Joseph always “came through” for him. He told me that he felt close to St. Joseph because he also was a “workingman.” And every so often – to me it seemed quite often – my Dad would give me a serious look and say those words: “Boy, never forget St. Joseph!”
THE POOR BOX
I’m not sure that a “poor box” is still found in most Catholic churches these days, but when I was coming up, it was a common fixture. I used to hear that the saint commonly associated with the poor box was St. Anthony of Padua. Well, my Dad would have none of that! For him, St. Joseph was in charge of it and there was no more discussion! Whenever Dad needed a favor, he would pray to St. Joseph, accompany his prayer with a promise of an amount for the poor box, and duly pay up when the favor was granted. I never questioned the theology or spirituality behind that practice. All I knew was that my father and St. Joseph had a particular relationship that really worked!
THE GLORIOUS ST. JOSEPH
Who is St. Joseph? He is the spouse of the Mother of God and foster-father of the Son of God made man – no wonder he is called “glorious”! Joseph saved the lives of both Mary and the unborn Jesus when he decided not to “expose her to the law” for being found with child by the Holy Spirit before their marriage was solemnized. He is called the “Pillar of Families.” He was named Patron and Protector of the Universal Church in 1870 by Blessed Pius IX. St. Joseph is traditionally the patron of the dying and a happy death – because he died literally in the arms of Jesus and Mary. He is also, as my Dad aptly observed, the Patron of Workers. And he is invoked as the Hope of the Sick and the Terror of Demons (I really like that one!).
TESTIMONIES OF SAINTS
I’m sure that numerous saints have been very devoted to St. Joseph but there are two that are especially known for that: St. Teresa of Avila and St. Andre Bessette. St. Teresa said that she never asked St. Joseph for anything without receiving it – or if not, something even better. She made it a point to celebrate his feast, March 19, with great solemnity and always asked him for special favors on that day. She said that Jesus was obedient to St. Joseph while on earth, and in heaven Jesus still does whatever St. Joseph asks! She ends up by saying something like, “if you don’t believe me, try him and see for yourself.”
St. Andre was a simple lay brother in Montreal, Canada, who would pray for the sick by rubbing them with oil which had been placed before a statue of St. Joseph. When healings occurred – and countless healings did – he would give all the thanks and credit to St. Joseph. St. Andre oversaw construction of the largest Oratory to St. Joseph in the world in Montreal, where the walls and ceilings are literally covered with crutches and braces that were rendered no longer necessary by the prayers of St. Andre AND St. Joseph.
Space does not permit me to relate all the answers to prayer I have received through St. Joseph, but I will give just a couple. Back in the 1980s, when our oldest child was starting high school, we were hard-pressed to come up with the tuition (which had to be paid in full and in advance). We started a novena to St. Joseph as a family. On the eighth day, one of the kids asked, “Is the tuition money coming tomorrow?” It did not actually come on the ninth day, nor for a few weeks. But about a month or so later, I received a letter from the school principal stating that an anonymous donor had paid the year’s tuition for us. Each year afterward, similar (but not identical) circumstances came about such that we were able to provide a Catholic school education for all our children, even into college. We give thanks to St. Joseph’s intercession for that.
I recall the time when we were trying to sell our 1977 Chevy Nova which was about ten years old with a gazillion miles on it. A mechanic looked it over, shook his head, and said we might ask $500 but would probably have to settle for less. We prayed to St. Joseph and I set the asking price at $800. The first guy that called on it and took the car for a drive, reached in his pocket and dug out eight $100 bills. (I confess that I sort of wished I had asked $1000, but quickly repented – sort of!)
A LEGACY FROM MY FATHER
My father passed over to eternal life on May 24, 1985, 35 years ago this year. Of the many gifts that I received from him, I think the one I treasure the most was his stern admonition, “Boy, never forget St. Joseph!” I have definitely not forgotten St. Joseph and trust I never will. Thank you, Dad.