In the month of March, the Church celebrates St. Joseph and on March 19, this past Saturday, we honored him in his role as the husband of Mary. St. Teresa of Avila, the great Doctor of the Church and Carmelite reformer, had a great devotion to St. Joseph and wanted others to foster devotion to him as well, saying often “Ite ad Joseph,” Latin for “Go to Joseph.” She explained the power of his intercession by saying “To other saints, Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity, but to this glorious saint (I know by my experience), he has given the power to help us in all things.” She also explains that this is because just as Jesus was subjected to St. Joseph here on earth, He now grants all of his petitions in heaven. St. Joseph is our spiritual father, just as Mary is our spiritual mother, and he wishes to help us grow in holiness and bring us ever closer to his son on earth, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Stanley Smolenski, who is the rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina/Joyful Hope in Kingstree, S.C. said in an article for the National Catholic Register that St. Joseph has this intercessory power because of the union of his heart with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. On earth, they all lived together in a “harmony of love” and they reflected that harmony in creation and their earthly lives (“St. Teresa of Avila: St. Joseph, Wonder-Worker, Is Waiting to Bless You”). This harmony carries over into eternal life and Joseph and Mary are able to intercede for us in a special way because they are so in tune with the Heart of Jesus, which causes Our Lord to be especially receptive to their requests. St. Teresa once said that she could not remember a time that St. Joseph did not grant her a request and that he delivered her from many dangers of both body and soul. She emphasized that only experience will teach others the intercessory power of this great saint, and that we must just take the first step and recommend ourselves to him and let him do the rest. He will also teach us to will what Jesus wills in our everyday lives, because the union of his heart with the Heart of Jesus means that their wills and desires are always the same.
When we invoke St. Joseph for help in our everyday lives, he comes to our aid as a father would help his children. God is our true Father in heaven, but as a spiritual father St. Joseph aids us in the everyday struggles to be faithful to our faith and to God. Along with Mary, and of course Jesus, St. Joseph is able to help in a unique way because he understands what it is like to be human and to have lived on earth amid the hardships of everyday life. Yet, his strong, silent, and faithful presence helps us to learn from him and gives us the example we need to deal with things in our own lives. He will inspire us to have the patience and obedience to follow God’s will for us in our lives, just as he did when he took Mary as his wife and moved the family to Egypt to escape Herod. The silence suggested by the lack of speech from Joseph in the Bible suggests that he was a man of prayer, which requires periods of silence and solitude. If we ask him, he is more than able to help us in this regard as well and we will be able to grow in our relationship with God and increase our trust and obedience to His Will.
If you do not already have a relationship with or devotion to St. Joseph, this month which is dedicated to him is a great time to begin one. One way to start is to simply ask Jesus to help you get to know his earthly father better. He will certainly come through, because He wants us to know and honor St. Joseph just as He does. The Litany of St. Joseph is a wonderful prayer to ask for the saint’s protection over us and on the whole world. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church, so it is a good idea to pray to him for his intercession especially at this time for the Church and Her members and leaders. As he was also the head of the Holy Family, he is a great example for men to show them how to be strong husbands and fathers and lead their families in spiritual growth on the way to heaven. We should ask St. Joseph to pray for the institution of the family, especially during this time when it is being attacked and attempts to redefine it are rampant.
St. Joseph is a spiritual father for us all, and he very much wants to get to know us and bring us closer to Jesus Christ. We should ask him for this intention often, and he will quickly come to our aid and teach us how to will what God wills through his own obedience and harmony with the will of God. So if you are struggling with anything in your life, Ite ad Joseph! St. Joseph, pray for us.