As we will soon celebrate the liturgical feast of Saint Joseph, on March 19, Erika Jacinto shares her devotion to the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the adopted father of Jesus.
Growing up, I had always pictured Saint Joseph as being pure, clean and very chaste. But I only started to really appreciate his life and spirituality upon my arrival close to 20 years ago in Montreal, which I discovered was home to the largest basilica in the world erected in his honour. In awe of this stately monument, I was inspired to learn all I could about Saint Joseph and his devotion.
By far what impacted me most about him was that he demonstrated his deep faith and relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ through his mastery of silence and obedience — both powerful ingredients to live a solid interior life by way of continual and direct conversation with Christ so as to become one with Him. I came to see him constantly absorbed in silent prayer and dedicated service. For example, when he learned of the pregnancy of his virgin wife, he remained silent as he reflected on an appropriate resolution. Then, God's light came to him, which he was no doubt seeking from the very start. And, without hesitation, he accepted the Lord’s plans.
So how has Saint Joseph impacted my own personal experiences? Well, I can say that I have lived through three types of human relationships — single, dating and married — while building my relationship with God at every stage. Single, corresponding to no relationship with God; dating, corresponding to incomplete commitment to God; and married, corresponding to full commitment to the Lord. My point here is that I have managed to cultivate these relationships and move through these three stages notwithstanding my many human limitations and struggles. I have learned to use silence to help achieve that third stage as a married woman.
Saint Joseph’s silence and obedience have served as a unique source of inspiration and as a model for how my own marriage could be more like his with our Lady.
First of all, put God first. By this, I mean not actually creating a situation where my husband gets “less of me”, but on the contrary, he is able to truly receive all of me as per God’s wish.
Second, trust God’s will. In my marriage, there are occasionally tough times to endure (many revolving around parenting), when we question the foundation of our union. But because we continue to believe in God’s will for our marriage, we can get through these difficult moments.
Third, live our faith together. Well… to be perfectly honest, I am still working on that one (in silence), since we are not always on the same wavelength, be it when praying together, attending mass together, or living the Gospel together in our home and community. However, respecting the way each of us practices our faith definitely strengthens and enriches our marriage. God knows His ways, which brings me back to my second point — obedience.
Today, my strong devotion to Saint Joseph stems from the fact that he is, for me, the first of all Saints. If I want to find Jesus, I turn to St. Joseph — he found Him after three sorrowful days. If I want to love Jesus more, I look to St. Joseph — he loves Him immeasurably. If I want to be always close to Jesus and our Lady, I seek out St. Joseph — no one has ever been closer to them. If I wish to pray, I call upon St. Joseph — he spent his life in dialogue with God. If I encounter difficulties, I look again to St Joseph — he knows all about suffering.
If I want to be strong, obedient, chaste, generous, humble, joyful and sincere, he is the Saint I turn to. In a nutshell, if I seek to be holy, I seek out Saint Joseph.