Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Tears Of Saint Joseph

I grow increasingly weary of trying to find an audience for my words here.  Mostly because it works against me more than for me.  I sometimes think I should not broach a subject or tell a story because I may offend the sensibilities of someone - someone I am not even sure is listening, or cares.

Trying to get around that, I find myself couching my words in ambiguity and metaphor, but, that is tiresome and weakhearted.  I find myself actually avoiding subjects and themes that may seem counter to what I imagine my readership to be.

I'm going to call myself on my own bullshit.  If I have something to say, I think I should say it.  I think God wants me to say it.  I think my future self, my children, my wife, family and friends should know what is in my heart.  I will never be a great blogger, that has become painfully obvious.  I simply do not want the kind of constant attachment and connectivity to the internet and devices that it seems to require.

However, I can, and will, write from my heart.  I can, and will, show my sons what it is like in my soul.  I can, and will, both confront and adore my God with the words that seem to spill from me - words I am tired of editing and questioning and changing and, honestly, fearing, because I am concerned that you may not like them, that they may offend you, that they may be counter to your beliefs.

Bullshit, Bill.

When I switched my church from one that said Presbyterian to one that said Catholic last year not everyone was thrilled.  I haven't talked much about that and I don't really plan on making it a regular theme here.  But, today is a feast day.  The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.

Although, to my comic chagrin, no one asked me to choose a Saint or confirmation name, which I think is a really cool way to get in touch with holiness, I chose St. Joseph as mine.

Foregoing the thick, often impossibly complicated, theology of the Church, I'll just go with my gut.  Jesus called Joseph "Daddy."  More accurately, I guess, "Abba."

I like to imagine Joseph, Good Ole Joe.  What a job.  I mean angels in dreams, virgin birth, a savior, a prophet in your home, moving around to avoid infanticide, it almost too much to expect a man to bear.

I like to imagine Joesph tearfully watching a birth in a manger, taking in the sweetness of a newborn's scent as he held a wet wailing messiah in his arms as his dear wife rested, weary from the journey of childbirth and travel.

I like to imagine Joseph smiling as his baby son clutched his fingers and grabbed his nose.  I can see him playing peekaboo, and touching his sons hair and marveling at his fingers.

I like to imagine Joseph teaching his son to read, tracing letters in the sawdust of a woodshop; teaching his son the simple prayers a child needs to know, any son, anywhere.

I like to imagine Joseph leaning against a wall watching as his son began to work with his father's tools, imagine his joy as he watched a boy become a man.

I imagine his fear as he realized his son was not with him when he should have been, imagine him scolding his son for sitting in a synagogue questioning his teachers, imagine him smiling at the same time, knowing that his son was doing as he was to do.

I imagine Joseph working, carving wood, hoisting timber, pulling ropes with calloused hands; taking care of the work he must do, knowing others must do the work they are to do.

I imagine him sitting in a chair in his old age wistfully looking across a dusty room and remembering a son who suffered, who rose again and ascended into heaven and only being able to concentrate on the fact that he was seated in a chair made by that boy, his boy, his dear sweet son.

I like to imagine the tears of Saint Joseph as he watches my sons, your sons, all children.  I imagine him thinking, I loved a boy once, He was my son, he was a good boy.

Feeling close to Joseph makes me feel closer to God.  Circumventing the pain of the Passion, the difficult theology, the impossible hierarchy of the Church, I feel I can focus with deep emotion on the love he had for his son - on the love our Father has for me.

There is sculpture of Saint Joseph in the Day Chapel where I often go to morning Mass.  It is heavy in symbology - lilies, a cross, carnations, I think - most of which is lost on me, but, I cannot help but think, you know what, I held a baby once - two, in truth - and called him son.  There is a moment in that sculpture, the moment that is in the place where Joseph's hand is supporting the baby Jesus, a moment that draws me in, a moment that is unwavering Love.


A Prayer for St. Joseph, The Worker

Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.
Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
towards all.
Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.
When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.

(Note: This prayer was taken from the booklet “Devotions to Saint Joseph” by Brian Moore, S.J., printed and published by the Society of St. Paul.)

Thank you letting me share this with you today, it means a lot to me.

From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

*after a thunder clap*

"Big Daddy's burping."

Yep, and it was a good one, I wonder if He can do the alphabet...


  1. Writing about what you want is liberating. Your blog - your call.
    I can appreciate someone wanting to write about religion. I don't know much about St. Joseph. Thanks for educating me or at least letting me into your visions of him.

  2. Bill,
    I loved reading this. It spoke to me, especially as someone who just was confirmed in Catholic Church after growing up Presbyterian. I chose St. Joseph as my confirmation name for all the reasons you described. Plus as a new father, it seemed to fit. Nice job.
    - Matt

  3. Powerful. I too have struggled in the past (and still continue to this day) with tempering my faith and religion in my blog. Thanks for sharing. One day, when I find or make enough time, I will make it all the way through each piece in your blog. Until then, keep pointing out those that your are proud of.

  4. Bill I think you should just write and yourself. This was beautiful and sheds light into what makes you who you are. Keep em coming! Anything you've got I will read.

  5. This is great Bill, and your simple approach to blogging and beautiful writing is a treat to all of us. I rather always hear what is on your mind than what you think I want to hear. A treat to read as always.