By Sister Donna Marie Degnan, OCD
St. Joseph, Mary’s spouse, patron of workers and fathers, continues to offer his gifts to the church.
Before the birth of Jesus, God sent His angels down to St. Joseph to relay messages to him in his sleep. In his dreams, angels sent him heavenly messages about Mary, Jesus’ name, and warnings of the danger that Herod threatened. God sent these angels with messages to St. Joseph in the late hours as he slept, so that in the morning, Joseph could relay those messages and act to protect himself, Mary and Jesus.
Even today, God depends on St. Joseph to help relay messages and answer prayers. As a carpenter, St. Joseph learned the importance of concentration and perfection; a demonstration that we, too, must exhibit patience while waiting for our prayers to be answered. St. Joseph takes each prayer he receives seriously and works hard to relay them to God in order that they may be answered in a way that is beneficial for our salvation.
There is a sweet tradition of placing prayers under a statue of sleeping St. Joseph at night. The petitioner hopes for an answer to his or her prayers as they sleep.
Surprisingly, Pope Francis is a strong believer in God’s dependability on St. Joseph while he is sleeping. The Pope has his own wooden Sleeping St. Joseph figure that he keeps in his room. He spoke about it at the World Meeting of Families in the Philippines in 2015.
“I would like to tell you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the church. Yes, he can do it! We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means please pray to St Joseph for this problem,” he said.
As Christmas approaches and families look for gifts and traditions to incorporate into their celebration of the holiday, it might be good to consider adding a devotion to St. Joseph to your Christmas.
(Sister Donna Marie Degnan, OCD, is a member of the Carmelite community in Jackson. This story also contains an excerpt from a Vatican Radio report.)