Updating the Litany of St. Joseph, approved in 1909, the Vatican has added seven invocations,…
Seeking St. Joseph’s protection on the long journey ahead
My wife prays the Rosary whenever she can’t get to sleep. I call it “Catholic Ambien.” I’m sure she’s not alone. There are many similar things that are distinctly Catholic — the ties that bind us.
For instance, you know you’re Catholic when you have an entire end-table drawer dedicated to holding rosaries, prayer cards and prayer books. Or, you know you’re Catholic when you park next to a car that also has a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror and feel a strong connection — like you’ve bumped into a spiritual teammate.
A few weekends ago, I added another item to the list. You know you’re Catholic when you have a million things to do before you go on vacation but No. 1 on the list is “go to confession.”
“A million things to do” might sound like an over-exaggeration, but that’s not how it’s felt. Late last summer, just before school started, I wrote that my wife and I bought an old RV to take our family to the Grand Canyon. Even though we’ve been planning the trip for more than a year, the crush of things to do a week before leaving was stressful — the laundry, the cleaning, the packing, the grocery shopping, confirming reservations. The list to make our hotel on wheels road-ready was even longer, and the stress was almost overwhelming.
But regardless of how busy we were, vacation can’t start until we hit confession. We know the schedules around us fairly well, but we were still scrambling to find a time that worked. Our 6-year-old had a baseball game during our normal confession time on Saturday morning, so we had to work our way down the list. The cathedral in the late afternoon? We had a graduation party. Our own parish before Mass? We’d be cutting it too close.
We finally found a place and time that would work. Two priests were hearing confessions at different spots in the gathering space at a nearby parish. As I sat and waited, I compiled in my head the laundry list of sins I’d committed over the past month. Preparing for this vacation has been stressful, I thought, and I’ve been so agitated that I keep snapping at the kids. Still waiting, I noticed a large banner hanging on the back wall proclaiming this the Year of St. Joseph. At the bottom of the banner was the prayer to St. Joseph that Pope Francis included in Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), his apostolic letter announcing the special year. I’ve prayed it dozens of times over the past six months or so, but this time it struck me differently.
“Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father, and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.”
I read again this line: “Show yourself a father, and guide us in the path of life.” I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Joseph this year, about the virtues he exhibited and how they can influence my role as a father and husband.
As I told the priest my sins, I mentioned how stressed I was, and how my kids have borne the brunt of it. Be patient with them; you can be firm without being angry, he said. For my penance, he told me to pray for my children, but also pray to St. Joseph for guidance.
Later that evening, as I continued to work on logistics of our vacation, I was searching for a parish in Williams, Arizona. Providentially, the church where we’ll be going to Mass on the first weekend of the trip is dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker — a fitting patron for our 17-day, 4,500-mile trip. May he watch over us on our journey.
And please, in your charity, ask St. Joseph to intercede for our safety and the safety of all who are traveling this summer.
Guardian of the Redeemer, pray for us!
Scott Warden is managing editor of Our Sunday Visitor.