Today is the feast day of St. Joseph. Thank Goodness for St. Joseph is not just an aspirin slogan. What would we have done without him? Mary would have been an unwed mother!
I think my greatest admiration of St. Joseph stems from how very understandable a person he was, although technically speaking we know almost nothing about him. Most of his story actually comes from sacred Tradition, a tradition that has it's roots in books that were officially thrown out of the New Testament.
Here's the story: Mary's parents have given her over to the temple at age three to be a consecrated virgin. Mary has to leave her post at age thirteen or so and the temple elders have the sticky task of finding a husband for a girl who is a consecrated virgin. It's not like they are going to have people lining up for the job.
So the temple elders have all the eligible bachelors or widowers throw their staffs in a pile. The staff St. Joseph throws in grows a rose. Joseph is not thrilled, but he does his duty.
This is why we love St. Joseph. From here on, St. Joseph, struggling against fear and doubt and things that seem just plain crazy, always makes the right choice. It is always the most difficult choice.
Thank goodness he was one of those people who remembers his dreams! I know quite a few people who say they never dream. They are mistaken. Everyone dreams. Some people simply never remember their dreams.
Here's an interesting study: Sleep researchers found that cats deprived of sleep didn't start acting strangely for about four days. I don't know how they could tell, since they were dealing with cats, but the researchers said that cats eventually, after 3 or 4 days, developed 'paranoid tendencies'. I've never met a cat that didn't seem to think, 'They're trying to kill me!" at least once per day. But there you have it.
But cats deprived of dreaming (which can be detected by Rapid Eye Movement, REM sleep) became instantly psychotic. Again, not sure how they could tell the psychotic part.
My theory is that your brain uses dreams to 'defragment' like your computer does in the wee hours.
St. Joseph, lucky for us, remembers his dreams when on several occasions an angel comes to him during REM sleep and tells him everything is going to be okay, or to hurry up and pack and get out of town.
St. Joseph had to believe some things that were very difficult to believe. For that reason he is the patron saint against doubt and hesitation.
He is the patron saint of workers, work, carpenters and cabinet makers because he was a working carpenter. I think in recent years stone masons and brick layers have been added to his patronage list because there are scholars who believe the word for his job was misinterpreted as 'carpenter' but that the word actually means 'stone mason'.
Whatever. "Worker" certainly covers all but the incredibly lazy.
He is the patron saint of the dying and a holy death and a happy death because he disappears out of the New Testament altogether so it has been surmised that he died. And since he died with Mary and Jesus at his side, what could be happier or holier?
He is the patron saint of travel because he safely moved his family from Bethlehem to Egypt and then back to Nazareth by donkey. And you're complaining because your SUV doesn't have a video player in the back to keep the kids quiet. (By the way....if you're going on a road trip with your children and you plan to have the children watch videos in the back seat the whole time, I have a tip for you: stay home. Your children can watch videos on the couch as they normally do. You'll save money and your children will get the same amount of information.)
I'm glad that St. Joseph is the patron saint of travel since St. Christopher is kaput.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of finding a home, a residual effect of having to move three times, and by extension, the patron saint of buying and selling real estate. I think we should talk more about this later, since, if the scapular thing bothers many people, burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard to sell your house will really drive you around the bend.
And of course, St. Joseph is the patron saint of families, fathers and expectant mothers as everything he did along those lines turned out so spectacularly well!
The only patronage that escapes me is that St. Joseph is the patron saint of Italy. I'm not sure why. Maybe because our own Holy Father lives there. Whatever the reason, the Italians made a great choice!