When you ask any good father what he wants for his birthday, you’re likely to get a dismissive wave and perhaps a request for a beer and some time with his kids. Though I don’t have any kids of my own, this is the regular pattern I constantly observe with my dad and plenty of other dads out there. It’s not that they don’t deserve a big celebration, but more that seeing their kids doing well is all they ever needed.
St. Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord and a model for all fathers has a sort of “birthday” coming up on March 19th when we celebrate The Solemnity of St. Joseph, also popularly known as St. Joseph’s Day. In Boston’s North End and throughout many Italian-American communities it takes on the feeling of a big party with parades, processions, and other kinds of celebrations. These particular celebrations stem from giving thanks to St. Joseph’s intercession for avoiding a famine in Sicily and they are a testament to his powerful intercession.
While Joseph doesn’t say a lot in the Bible, he is rightly called the Patron of the Universal Church for his life, love and protection of both Mary and Our Lord. Pope Leo XIII, in observing how Joseph acted as a husband and father, reflected on this great saint:
The Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust – this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.
With his solemnity quickly approaching, it is customary to being to pray the St. Joseph Novena beginning on March 10th, which happens to be tomorrow. This powerful prayer ranks right up there with the St. Jude novena in answering some seemingly unanswerable prayers. In my own life, I’ve seen it at work.