At 3:19 p.m. every day, an alarm that reads “St. Joseph, pray for us!” goes off on my phone. No matter what I’m doing, I take a moment to pause and bring specific intentions to the Lord through the intercession of St. Joseph, my spiritual father and yours.
Ever since my sophomore year of college when I first prayed a novena to St. Joseph, I’ve slowly seen his subtle but powerful intercession working throughout my life. In a beautiful way, he’s truly adopted me as a spiritual daughter. It started out with me turning to him in the middle of an emotional crisis over yet another relationship that didn’t happen, but it led me to my most steadfast spiritual companion.
True, I’ve had other companions — namely St. Thérèse and Mama Mary — for longer periods of my life, but every year, my devotion to St. Joseph grows. And it’s a devotion all women, no matter their state in life, need to foster. Here’s why.
It doesn’t take much to recognize that we have a crisis in our culture. Yes, a crisis of authentic femininity, but also a crisis in authentic masculinity. We see this in so many aspects of life, such as the disproportionate ratio of men to women sitting in the pews at Mass and the general decrease in priestly vocations, but also in the rising percentage of men (and women, true) who struggle with pornography and other sins that cripple relationships, not to mention the number of children who grow up in fatherless homes.
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In short, our world is suffering from severe father wounds; we are suffering from a severe lack of holy, bold men. And this is where St. Joseph comes in.
While I first turned to St. Joseph out of a hope for consolation amid the desire to enter into my own vocation, St. Joseph has subtly worked on my heart, cultivating the grace God has given me so that my intentions are becoming more and more other-focused. Instead of praying solely for what my heart desired, I turned that desire into intercession — for more men to embrace the Faith and a relationship with Our Lord in a transformative way so that they will be able to answer the call to the priesthood or as loving husbands and fathers.
And that’s what I love about St. Joseph. While some saints are known for working big miracles and leaving prominent signs, my experience is that St. Joseph works on your heart, transforming you from the inside out. For as I began to pray more for others — for my future husband, if that be God’s design, and for an increase in holy, bold men — I found more peace in my own state in life and began to see in small ways the Lord answering my prayers through the men around me.
So ladies, this is where we as women come in. Venerable Fulton Sheen is known for saying that, “To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
Men rise to the standard women raise for them, as long as it is done in love. So, while it would be easy to put the blame on society and men in general, we as women need to accept our mission — to form ourselves and to pray for holy, bold men. And it starts now.
If you are single and feel called to marriage, don’t wait until you are dating someone to pray for your future spouse. Ask St. Joseph to intercede for your future husband now, that he may become a just and holy man in the sight of God. In fact, be a bold woman yourself and thank God ahead of time for the ways he will work in this man’s life to transform his heart to be like St. Joseph. But don’t forget to ask St. Joseph to pray for you as well, that you, too, may grow in holiness and pursue God above all things.
If you are a religious sister or discerning religious life, ask St. Joseph to renew a culture of men striving to protect the dignity of women. And ask the guardian of virgins to guard your heart so you may give it completely to the God who formed it.
If you are married, invite St. Joseph into your marriage. Ask him to guide your husband to become a loving head to your own holy family. And ask him to pray that you may become a Blessed Mother for your family in all ways.
In all ways, we need to lean on St. Joseph to form our future spouses, our future children, our future priests and religious, our future Church.
In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, there is much we as Catholic women can do to cultivate a relationship with our spiritual father. Here are some easy ways to do so:
- Set an alarm on your phone (I chose 3:19 p.m. in reference to his feast day, March 19) to ask for his intercession daily.
- Pray the St. Joseph novena (usually leading up to certain feast days, such as March 19 or May 1).
- Add the Litany of St. Joseph into your list of daily or weekly prayers.
- Look into praying the Rosary of the Holy Spouses to shake up your Rosary routine.
- If you feel like you need to get to know St. Joseph first, order a copy of “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father” by Father Donald Calloway or “Meet Your Spiritual Father: A Brief Introduction to St. Joseph” by Mark Miravalle.
- And if you are like me and love having visual reminders around your home, find an image of St. Joseph that speaks to your heart and hang it in a prominent location.
St. Joseph is a quiet intercessor, but don’t underestimate his power. He’s called the “Terror of Demons” for a reason. Wherever you find yourself right now, let this be the year that you can look back on as the time when St. Joseph took you under his wing.