"Childhood of Christ" (detail) by Gerrit van Honthorst

“Childhood of Christ” (detail) by Gerrit van Honthorst

One day about seven years ago my friend Lisa noticed something strange poking up in her yard. She bent down and took a closer look and decided she should dig it up to find out what it could be. To her surprise it was a statue of Saint Joseph the Worker who had been buried face down!

Yes, she was aware of the popular practice of burying a statue of the poor over-worked saint when one was trying to buy or sell a house. But, how long was this statue in the earth? She wondered because she knew she had not buried it. She was quite curious to learn the origin of this mysterious Saint Joseph statue.

Lisa decided to ask the previous owner of the property who happened to be a member of her family. It was her mother-in-law, who, by the way, was not Catholic. Her mother-in-law explained that she had certainly not buried the statue in all the thirty years that she lived in the house.

The plot thickened! How did it get there? How long had it been in the ground? But, Lisa wasn’t able to find out any more information about the origin of the uninvited guest.

St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph the Worker

Lisa, a practicing Catholic, scrubbed the layers of dirt off of the newly discovered statue and upon seeing his attractive colors and design decided to give him a proper place of rest and honor on her night table where he would keep watch over her and her husband throughout the years to come.

Every day and night the small peculiar figure stood guarding from his new post on the night table. Lisa was reminded of Saint Joseph each time she observed the statue on her nightstand—that mysterious gift she never once asked for nor did she ever expect to suddenly come into her life the day she spotted a bit of it poking up through her front yard. But, there he was in all his splendor, inside her home now—a constant reminder to Lisa to offer her heart up in prayer.

Lisa one day decided to pray to Saint Joseph and ask for his help in the family, especially during particular trying times. She recalled, “I often looked at the statue of Saint Joseph there on my nightstand and I often thought about his prompt intercession in answer to my prayers.” She continued to beseech him in prayer.

Many seasons passed in that busy household. Along with them came the strains, joys, and challenges of raising a family and navigating life. Life was very busy. Yet, through it all, Lisa was developing a quiet yet steady relationship with this humble yet powerful saint—even if she didn’t fully recognize that it was happening at the time.

It would be years later that Lisa realized that the illustrious saint had truly been watching over her and her family. Perhaps the one thing that Lisa deeply yearned for, but could not totally articulate or even ask for since it didn’t seem to be a possibility, was for her husband to share the beautiful Catholic faith that she possessed.

Lisa explained, “I thought it would be impossible. With his strong United Methodist roots and strong family ties—that conversion to Catholicism would be near to impossible.” She didn’t expect it to happen. She certainly didn’t want to coerce him, nag him, or push her husband into something he didn’t desire for himself. Lisa simply went about her days setting a humble example in remaining faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church—going to Mass, praying, and partaking in the sacraments. She hoped that someday her innermost wish could come to fruition—please God! Then, she’d push it from her mind and simply pray for what was best for them, their marriage and their family. Lisa would leave everything to God to ultimately decide.

Lisa began a novena to Saint Joseph which she has since kept up almost perpetually. Thanks be to God, Lisa’s prayers were heard and her husband came into the Church! Lisa feels quite sure that Saint Joseph has been responsible for many other wonderful helps to her family and most especially for her husband’s conversion to the Catholic faith!

I love Saint Joseph and consider him to be a hero. I have written about him in some of my books and have often recommended that people ask for his untiring intercession. He is a powerful saint—a wonderful friend to have. I heartily encourage you to call upon him often. Saint Teresa of Avila expressed that Saint Joseph has never failed her.

Don’t be afraid to call upon dear Saint Joseph for help in your family.

And you never know… Saint Joseph might possibly decide to just show up unexpectedly in your life as he did for Lisa!

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Dear St. Joseph, you were an ordinary man, a humble carpenter. But you were a prayerful, holy soul, the foster father of Jesus, a model for us all. Please guide me in my own journey through life, and help me be aware of God’s specific call to me. Help me to see that in my own life God is calling me to greater things for His glory. Please pray to the Blessed Trinity for me to be granted the graces I need most. I pray that I can be faithful to my state in life, totally trusting in God’s divine providence for me. St. Joseph, pray for all who invoke your aid. If it is God’s holy will, please grant me (here mention your request). Amen. (From my Catholic Saints Prayer Book)

Prayer composed by Pope Saint John XXIII (1958-63)

O glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity of custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you. You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God. Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls. Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil. Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as you did. Amen.

Editor’s Note:  If you are interested in learning more about moments of inspiration from great Saints, take a look at Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s wonderful book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book: Moments of Inspiration from Your Favorite Saints.

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