This Sunday, we as a nation celebrate Father’s Day. In the United States of America, we have been celebrating this day, honoring fathers, on the third Sunday in June since 1910.
However, did you know that in many countries in Europe, Father’s Day is celebrated on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on March 19? Why would this be the case? Because Saint Joseph, the foster father of the Lord Jesus and the most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the ideal father! Our fathers can learn from the example of Saint Joseph to grow to be the best fathers they can be!
There is a mnemonic that is sometimes applied to Saint Joseph, taking each of the letters of his name and applying a virtue to it, a particular virtue that all fathers can strive to attain in their own lives for the good of their children.
J- Joseph is a just man. He was fair, patient, and kind. This Patron of the Universal Church was able to guide the Lord Jesus, in the Lord’s human nature, as an example of always “doing the right thing simply because it is right.”
O- Joseph was an open man. He was open to the experience, one which he certainly never expected, of having his life, his world, thrown upside down. The woman to whom he was betrothed is with child, indeed with God’s own Son, and he trusts her and he trusts the message he received in a dream to give up everything to care for his wife and the infant Lord. Joseph is willing to go into a foreign land, one associated with evil and slavery for a Jew of his day, in order to save the life of his newborn son, who is, in fact, the very Son of God.
S- Joseph was a silent man. He knew when to speak and when to listen. As we know, there is not one recorded word of Joseph’s in the entire New Testament. Like all of us should do, he listened more than he spoke, and when he spoke, undoubtedly it was important and with meaning.
E- Joseph was empathic. He tried his best to understand the absolutely unique experience of his wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he could never comprehend it completely, he knew that his role was essential to Salvation History.
P- Joseph was a patient man. Imagine being in Egypt for all those years, waiting to return to his homeland; imagine all of the times he had to grow in patience with those who did not understand his family.
H- Joseph was truly holy. As a devout Jew, he, no doubt, taught Our Lord the practice of being a good and devout Jew. He raised Jesus in the practice of the ancient faith of the Hebrew people.
Just, Open, Silent, Empathic, Patient, and Holy — all virtues needed for fathers today. Pray that all of our fathers will grow in the example of Saint Joseph.
Our Priest Fathers
As we celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, we might also wish to offer up a special prayer for our bishops and priests. Although in Europe and many other countries, only the religious order priest is known as “Father” and the Diocesan priest is known as “Reverend,” it is common to refer to all priests as “Father.” We call the priest “Father” because of the role that he has in guiding, shepherding, caring for, and feeding those with whom he has been blessed in his parish or particular assignment. Pray for those Fathers who feed us with the Eucharist, heal our wounds with the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick, bring us to new life in Baptism and Confirmation, and walk with us in those sacraments of vocation — Matrimony and Holy Orders.