Saint Joseph and Men in the Family
Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier
Some might wonder why we chose to dedicate this issue to Saint Joseph when May is almost automatically thought of as Mary's month. Some wonderful Marian devotions take place in May. Mother's Day is in May. May and June are the perfect times to plan and plant a Mary garden. June is right on the edge of summer holidays. Mothers around the world are preparing activities for their children, shaking out the warm weather clothes and praying for the virtues exemplified by Our Blessed Mother: patience, kindness, serentity, acceptance, faith, and love. What better theme for an issue?
But May 1st is the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. He stands at the 'entrance' to the month, guarding, protecting and supporting her Maternity. As Mary's husband and the Christ Child's foster father, Saint Joseph was an essential and indispensible member of the Holy Family, and vital part of God's plan for our Redemption. I find it significant that we begin Mary's month through Saint Joseph the Worker, model for Catholic men.
Husbands and fathers are essential and indispensible to families today, yet how often is this recognised? How many men truly realise how vital they are to the health of their families, and even more important, how often are they told? Men's contribution and role in the family extends far beyond conception and a regular pay check. They have a vital role to play in the life and development of their families, as vital a part as Joseph's.
I hate to generalise, because every family and every person in those families are different. Some men are great 'fixers', others find it difficult to make decisions. Some husbands do housework, others faint at the sight of blood. Some men are comfortable talking about emotions and their faith, and others are much more private. But some things are true for every family. Husbands are the head of the family, their wives are the heart. A head without a heart lacks compassion and finds it hard to love. A heart without a head lacks prudence and finds it hard to trust. Put together as head and heart, husbands and wives teach each other to trust and to love, lessons that they might not learn on their own.
In addition, fathers have tremendous influence on the formation of their children. Faith may be taught by mothers, but it is passed down by fathers.The religious observance of adults is determined by the example of religious observance of their fathers, not their mothers. Fathers that lead in evening prayers, join the family for Sunday Mass, carry a rosary in their pocket, are giving their children a tremendous loving gift, the gift of Faith.
Fathers teach both their sons and daughters with everything they do. Boys learn how to be men from their fathers. How their father treats his wife and mother teaches them how to respect women. How their father handles his temper and adversity teaches them how to solve problems. How he behaves towards speed limits, priests, and credit cards will teach his sons how to be men.
Girls learn what to expect from marriage from their fathers. How he treats his wife will teach them how their husbands should treat them. If their father treats them with respect and dignity, taught them to value their feminity and the vocation of marriage, then they will look for a man that will live up to those standards. How he behaves towards obligations, police men, and monthly bills will teach his daughters what to look for in a man and a marriage.
Which brings me to the second part of this issue's theme - vocational choices. Marriage is a vocation, like the priesthood and the religious life, it is a way to serve God by serving others. Fathers and husbands chose the vocation of marriage, and their children make vocational choices based on the example of those around them. If they see faithful, loving examples of marriage, the priesthood, the religious and single life, then they will make a real choice, open to whatever God plans for them.
Men, as fathers and husbands, by their examples of faith and by modelling true manhood for their children, guide and lead their families in serving the Lord. What better time to honour Saint Joseph?
(Our next issue in the months of July and August will be titled "Queenship and Assumption" and dedicated to Our Blessed Mother.)
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