There's a hymn called "Great St. Joseph" and it has become, for me, "the" St. Joseph hymn, simply because its melody is so histrionic you can't forget it! St. Joseph himself, of course, was anything but histrionic. And yet we remember him and honor him extravagently. As is only appropriate. (Didn't the Lord say, "If anyone serves me, my Father will honor him"?)
Today waiting for an appointment, I had a chance to read a few more pages of the massive biography of Dorothy Day by William Miller. Providentially, the pages I read specifically mentioned the role of St. Joseph in the Catholic Worker house in the early 1930's. I don't tend to associate Catholic piety with the movement; I suppose Ms. Day's political approach seems so characteristic that her life of faith and genuine devotion gets left in the shadows. (I was surprised to read, for instance, that at the farm commune, they used to gather before bedtime to pray the Rosary and the Litany.) Anyway, about St. Joseph, Miller writes, "When [financial] matters appraoched the point that the entire enterprise...would founder within days, someone would write out a petition and place it under the statue of St. Joseph. 'We need money, St. Joseph! Make haste!' Once this lowly sweat-begrimed carpenter, the foster father of God, seemed to be taking the petitions too matter-of-factly. So, according to Julia Procelli...she, Dorothy and some of the otehrs took turns going over to the church to 'picket' St. Joseph. Each one spent 'perhaps an hour praying and begging for money. We were so behind with the butcher, the banker and eerone that we just didn't have a cent in the house.'
" 'It was a peaceful and lovig picketing,' wrote Dorothy, 'the crowd of us taking turns to go to the church and there in the presence of Christ our Leader, contemplate St. Joseph...' Dorothy observed that the picketing was announced at the breakfast table, after which one of the young women sitting there looked startled and asked if she would be required to carry a sign."
And that very day, someone walked into the Catholic Worker office and left $100 in an envelope.
Reminds me of the Little Sisters of the Poor, when they needed a gardener. One of the sisters found a picture in a magazine of a man with a hoe. She cut the picture out to put by the statue of St. Joseph, but in her hurry, she trimmed the man's arm right out of the image. And shortly after, a one-armed gardener came to the door, volunteering his services.
Well, I've entrusted a few things to St. Joseph, but he's taking his time about it, to be sure! Maybe we need to take a page from the Catholic Workers and start a picket line...