Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thank you, St. Joseph

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Recently, my fiancé and I took a dance break while preparing dinner to sample out a potential first dance song, “Then,” by Brad Paisley. Romantic swaying quickly turned into ridiculous laughter as Paisley reminisced about his early encounters with his now wife...

I remember trying not to stare
The night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
And three weeks later
In the front porch light
Taking 45 minutes to kiss goodnight
I hadn't told you yet
I thought I loved you then

Our first few weeks of dating were certainly lovely – and as love goes they also contained their taste of the cross that Christ guarantees when we follow Him. The lyrics hit a nerve because to be perfectly honest, many of our early evenings were not capped with passionate kissing but with passionate tears – on my part. I was a hot mess.

My twenties were ripe with constant flip-flopping; one moment I was able to trust and hope in God’s goodness only to shortly thereafter give into doubt and despair. I followed all the rules, listened to every Catholic talk, and gave my plethora of fiats and still, I found myself alone, heart-broken and fearful as I passed into my 30s. I admittedly was simultaneously struggling with resentment over the past and anxiety over the future.

And so, those first few weeks…err months…of dating my now fiancé will forever be characterized (and thus cherished) by a different kind of expression of love. After years of praying, hoping and waiting, God in His perfect (though still challenging) timing sent me my St. Joseph – my patient fiancé who, in those moments when I was most vulnerable and weak, chose to love and comfort me with a grace-fueled and grace-giving gentle strength. I am sure that I will never know how difficult it was for him to pour himself out to me only to be met time and again with tears of pain and uncertainty.

I take solace in the idea that I am sure St. Joseph had his fair share of difficulties in loving his beautiful bride Mary. Being married to literally the only perfect woman on earth was likely filled with moments of unparalleled grace and unparalleled struggle.

All too often, we feminize both Jesus Christ and his earthly father, St. Joseph. We ignore the perhaps smelly sweat, the bloody bodily scars, and the sheer will power that they embodied and outright owned while walking the earth.
"Joseph with Infant Christ" by Murillo is in the Public Domain

St. Joseph is known as the quiet spouse of Mary, perfectly content with being her most chaste spouse, wholly accepting of his place as the only imperfect being in the holy family. We rob him of his manliness when we forget his nature and how he must have fought to be the leader, provider and protector we call on.

In an essay on “Becoming a Real Man of God,” Fr. Roger J. Landry lists ten traits of a good soldier. Included among them are:

·         He is rooted in discipline and strength.
·         He may be tender and compassionate but never soft.
·         He sees sacrifice as an opportunity to show his character and demonstrate love.

As we remember St. Joseph on his feast day (March 19), let us praise him for who he really was and is – a true lover and a fighter. And let us thank all of the men in our lives who follow his example.

1 comment :

  1. Shaina: I love this! Because it's really beautifully written, but also because you used the term "hot mess." I loled, for reals.


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