Because I decided that 2014 would be The Year of the Saints, I wanted to choose a specific saint each month to focus on. Instead of asking for intercession or making prayer requests, though, I wanted to see what I could learn from each saint’s life—how they lived, loved, and coped with adversity. I especially wanted to note what these saints did during their lifetime in regards to relationships.
March is a great month for a great saint: Joseph, the husband of Mary and father of Jesus.
Well, maybe calling him the father of Jesus is a misnomer. Because Mary was carrying the Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, we could call St. Joseph the guardian of Jesus. In modern day terms, he would be the foster father of the Son of God. It takes a lot of selflessness and faith to do such a thing.
When he learned that his family was in jeopardy, he acted immediately. Imagine leaving the only life you’ve known to bring your brand-new family to safety. He had no job, friends, family or connections in this new place, but he went anyway to protect his wife and unborn child. This is quite a sacrifice, and he did so faithfully and willingly.
He worked hard to provide for his family; so much so that he became the patron saint of carpenters. He never wavered in his love for Jesus, he never shirked these responsibilities, and remained a faithful husband and strong father figure.
This is a life that many of our Catholic men can learn from. The reality of our times is that there’s a chance that a marriage-minded Catholic man may get involved with a woman who has children already. Entering into this type of relatioship requires quite a bit of contemplation, prayer and practical considerations that men must make. The big questions have to be asked: am I ready for the responsibilities of an entire family? Am I prepared to love these children as my own? Am I willing to work tirelessly to provide for them? Will I place my faith and trust in this woman as their mother? Will I follow God’s will for me in accepting this family as my path in life?
These are huge considerations to make. It’s enough of a life-changer to go from single to married. It’s a whole other level of change to move from the single life into a life of marriage and parenthood all at once. These considerations are not to be taken lightly. Fortunately, a marriage-minded man has the strength and support of the Catholic Church to lean on. And he has a powerful role model in St. Joseph.
There’s another lesson in the life of St. Joseph: he is the patron saint of dying. Theologians have concluded that because there is little mention of Joseph during Jesus’ adult life in the public eye, he may have passed away at some point prior to that. They have also speculated that at the time of his death, because this was a time before Jesus took on public life, he passed with his son and wife at his side.
Perhaps we could learn about Joseph through his death if we look at it symbolically. Because the Catholic Church calls husbands to be the Bride of Christ, they must be willing to sacrifice their lives in marriage. This is certainly evident in Joseph’s life, who took on his responsibilities—sacrificing his former way of life—without question. In a sense, a Catholic man who chooses to become a husband experiences a type of death. In sacrificing the supposed benefits of single life, a part of man’s life that is marked by bachelorhood passes away. Of course, a joyful new life awaits, but a man must have faith in order to enter this sacrament willingly.
During the month of March, our single men could perhaps contemplate the life of St. Joseph with the intention of learning from him—his character, his strength, his resolve and most of all, his faith. Perhaps you could consider babysitting, volunteering, coaching or tutoring young children during this time. Getting a feel for caretaking a child who isn’t your own is a powerful exercise in learning the ways of St. Joseph.