Covid-19 is on everyone’s mind these days. What saint can better help us than Joseph, whose feast is March 19? Saint Teresa of Avila wrote about him, “I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to the glorious Saint Joseph, for I have great experience of the blessings which he can obtain from God. I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of him that he has failed to grant.”
Saint Joseph can help us especially in these areas:
1. Overcoming fear
In a crisis people can easily be flooded with fears. A friend recently wrote to me that her sister is afraid she might die from the virus or lose her business. Joseph also knew fear when faced with Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. But he didn’t panic, he prayed. Then an angel said to him in a dream, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid. . . “ (Mt 1:20). Shortly after Jesus was born, Joseph was warned that King Herod was sending soldiers to kill the baby. That must have made Joseph very afraid! Imagine the fear you would feel if that happened to your family. Joseph listened to God’s word through the angel and obeyed. He immediately took Mary and Jesus and brought them to Egypt, a foreign country. Joseph probably didn’t know anyone there but he set out in faith. Some time later when he was told to go back to Israel, the Gospel says he was afraid to go to Judea, so he went to Nazareth.
If such a great saint felt fear, we shouldn’t be surprised that we feel it too. A certain amount of fear can be a good thing, helping us to act decisively. But too much fear can cripple us. From Joseph we can learn to take our fears to God in prayer, and then listen to what the Holy Spirit tells us. God will guide us as we take the next right step. And if we make a mistake we can simply ask God to help us correct our course and try again.
2. Trust in God
In a time of crisis it’s easy to project our fears into the future and think, “What if X, Y, or Z happens to me?” It’s very human, we all do that to some extent. Most of the time the things we worry about don’t actually happen. But sometimes bad things do happen. We can’t know for sure what the future holds. The best solution to such worries is the one that Joseph modeled: to trust in God. We can be sure that no matter what happens, God will always be with us. That’s a consoling thought, because the fear of facing something alone can be the worst part of it. But we’re never alone with God. God has a plan for our lives, and it is a good plan. We remain free to make our own choices. But God works with us and uses all the events of our lives as a means of grace.
We can see this in the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and brought to Egypt. Falsely accused, he was sent to prison. But his talents were noticed and he rose to a position of great power, second only to Pharaoh. Forewarned by God that a severe famine would strike, Joseph carefully managed resources to insure there would be enough food for everyone. When his brothers came for food, instead of taking revenge on them Joseph embraced them and said, "It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you." (Gen. 45;5).
This story reminds us that God can and does draw good out of every crisis. He will keep on doing that for us today.
The Memorare to Saint Joseph is a good prayer to ask for his help:
Remember, O most pure spouse of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, my beloved patron, that never has it been heard that anyone sought your aid without being comforted. Inspired by this confidence, I come to you and fervently commend myself to you. Despise not my petition, dear foster father of our Redeemer, but graciously accept it. Amen.
by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP
image by Cathopia