While I am a cradle Catholic, and used to love reading about (and acting out) the lives of saints, I recently confided to our chaplain that I feel as though I have a mental block when it comes to the saints as an adult.
As dependent as I am upon God, I also firmly believe God helps those who help themselves, and thus struggle when it comes to asking others for their prayers. And, while the saints have led virtuous lives, I struggle to ask for them to pray for my intentions, as well.
I think part of it is because of the (false) accusation that Catholics worship saints. I know we don’t worship them, but I think part of me is resistant to reach out to them because I don’t want others to think I am worshiping anyone other than God. So, I fail to remember saints are up in heaven, waiting and willing to pray for my intentions, the same way people around me are willing to pray for me.
Last Monday was the Feast of St. Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus Christ. The husband of Mary, a figure of a man who remains silent in the Gospels, but plays an integral role in the Savior’s physical safety, His formation, and His early years.
As we celebrated the feast day in my traditional style – meaning, I had a lot of thoughts, but no real celebration – I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between my husband and Mary’s husband.
My husband is Methodist, and I bristle with the concept of my husband (or anyone) being the spiritual head of anything, let alone the household. However, my husband plays a pretty impressive role as a non-Catholic spouse. He attends Mass with us on Sundays, he ensures our son learns his prayers, often times praying alongside our son, and he encourages our son to attend religious education in the preschool class. Furthermore, he willingly supports my chapel-related activities, and is there to lend a hand at almost every activity.
My husband does a lot – for our family, for myself, and for the Catholic Church.
And, he does it without argument, without cajoling, and without complaint. He understands my faith is important to me, and like any supportive spouse, is willing to do what he can to continue encouraging my participation in activities which are important to me.
I fully believe God reveals Himself to all people in His own way, at His own time. Therefore, I try very hard to support my husband in his faith journey, and don’t lose sleep over him converting – I made the personal commitment early on in our marriage to not pressure him to convert.
My husband may not be Catholic, but at times, I think he is more Christian than I. He supports our family in a physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. He plays his role as husband and father with little complaint, even though he has more than enough room to complain at times!
I can’t help but wonder if these similarities I see between St. Joseph and my husband are a subtle call to reflect on the greater life of a saint, whose purpose was to care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of Our Savior.
I can’t help but wonder if these similarities I am recognizing are also not a subtle call to reflect on the greater contribution my husband plays in our marriage – the role he plays, and the way in which he answers the call to love me, as Christ loved His Church.
Perhaps by focusing on the attributes of St. Joseph, I will continue to draw beautiful parallels between two amazing men – one who is already a saint, and the other one earning his sainthood through marriage to me.
And, since marriage is one way of achieving sanctification, I challenge my readers who may be married: