Father and Friend: St. Joseph

Over the last few years, I have developed an interesting relationship with St. Joseph.  In all honesty, I pester him about everything from guys to freelancing to "help me get everything done that I need to get done today."  He's the patron saint of pretty much everything that's relevant for single young adult Catholics.  And having a spiritual father in addition to my earthly father equals the best masculine support system I could ask for.

Our friendship started during senior-year chaos, grew through a summer of panicked job hunting, and solidified during my transition to independence.  I figure he could handle it, but I still feel a bit guilty about throwing all the difficult bits of my life at him.

Recently, I realized just how well St. Joseph understands me.  Before Christmas, God threw the inspiration for a major writing project at me.  We're talking the kind of God-curve-ball that feels like a ton of bricks dropping on your head.  My response?  "Oh please Lord no, I can't do that, there's no way this can be your will.  It's just my pride talking, I am not the right person for this project."

The problem with telling God things like that, is that you're already acknowledging that He's involved!  Well, the only thing I could do was ask my friend St. Joseph to figure things out for me.  I prayed a novena asking St. Joseph to tell me whether or not this project was truly God's will.  Being a very specific choleric, I asked for a sign: in memory of the saint's staff, which bloomed to signify his worthiness to become Mary's husband, and because he is always symbolized with lilies to show his purity, I asked for a clear signal of lilies if it was God's will.

I was envisioning a random lily showing up somewhere!  But no, St. Joseph was tricky.  Right before I went to bed on the last day of the novena, I was reading a young adult fantasy novel, and all of a sudden a word jumped off the page at me: lilies.  It was a description of a character's garden, but the word struck me, like God's signs always do.

Stubborn, I decided I wasn't convinced that I had really received my answer.  So I prayed the novena again, asking for the same thing.  Again, St. Joseph worked subtly!  In the middle of the night after finishing the novena, I suddenly woke up with the word "lilies" in my mind.  At that point, since I almost never remember things from dreams, I decided I wasn't going to push St. Joseph any further, and just accept that this project was God's will.

Later, I discussed the answer I had received with a couple of good friends.  One of them reminded me that I'm a verbal learner - I think in words, not images, and joke about "I see things in Times New Roman, 12 point font".  So St. Joseph was really answering me in the way I was best suited to receive that answer: through words!  When that little lightbulb went off, I realized how close I had become to St. Joseph.  I trusted him to answer me, and he did, in a way that proves he has become an understanding, caring friend.

So, as I have for a year now, I keep praying to St. Joseph every day.  I give him my worries, my desire to be fruitful in God's service, my need for courage and prudence.  I lean on him for strength, and know that he is listening.  I encourage you, especially if you already have a relationship with the Blessed Mother, or if you feel a need for a father-figure, to look to St. Joseph and trust in his love.

Here are two of my favorite prayers to St. Joseph, to help you develop a relationship with this strong, gentle, loving friend:

From Miles Christi's prayerbook
    O glorious patriarch, St. Joseph, whose power can render possible even things which are impossible, come to my aid in my present trouble and distress.  Take under thy protection the important and difficult affairs that are entrusted to me, that they may end happily.  Pause - tell him your petition.  My beloved father, all my confidence is in thee.  Let it not be said that I invoked thee in vain, and since thou art able to to obtain everything before Jesus and Mary, show me that thy goodness equals thy power.  Amen.
From the "Blessed Be God" prayerbook
    O glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to thee to we raise our hearts and hands to implore thy powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favor we now implore.
    O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that thy prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.
Then the following verse and response are said seven times, in honor of the seven joys or sorrows of St. Joseph.
    V. O glorious St. Joseph, through the love thou dost bear to Jesus Christ, and for the glory of His name,
    R. Hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. 
O glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, and charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine will.  Be my guide, father, and model through life, that I may merit to die as thou didst in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.

Check out a couple of excellent articles on devotion to St. Joseph over at uCatholic:

Seven Ways to Lead Like Joseph

Five Reasons Every Man Should Love St. Joseph