Last year on All Saint’s Day I went through and listed out some of the Saints that had a particular meaning for our family.
Some of them were selected because they are confirmation saints or namesake saints, others selected because of who they were, what they did, or what they represent.
St. Joseph was on my list for several reasons. He’s a part of the holy family, and he’s the patron saint of fathers, step-fathers, and foster fathers. It’s also a very popular feast day in Italy. I have also learned a lot more about St. Joseph in the past few years and having kids of my own now,
I have a new love and respect for him. I wonder what it would be like not just to be a stepfather- but to be stepfather to the son of GOD. My imagination has no end to questions about moments that must have come from that. I wonder about the exhaustion and joys and curiosity that raising a child inevitably brings- even if that child IS the Messiah! I love that he had a humble but important job working with his hands as a carpenter. I only recently learned of the widely held belief that Joseph may have died young and that is why he is not mentioned in any stories about the crucifixion or during Jesus’ years of ministry. I want to learn more about him, but for now he was definitely on our list to observe during this year and hopefully for years to come. Here’s a bit of what we did to observe his feast day:
*Crafts! For my son this meant coloring pictures of St. Joseph- we colored one of him with the Holy Family and one with him sleeping since it was in a dream that God told him not to break off his betrothal to Mary after he found out she was pregnant. For me this meant doing some wood burning since working with wood was the closest thing to carpentry that I was going to get today. For my daughter it meant making a card for her godfather and having a blast with her brothers’ play tools.
*FOOD! St. Joseph’s feast is traditionally a bit of a carb-a-thon. Bread! Special pasta! Cream puffs! Since the feast falls during Lent, the traditional dishes do not involve meat or cheese. We did one traditional food- making bread in a fancy new shape which is a huge tradition in Italy… It wasn’t perfect but it was a lot of fun to try my hand at something other than a regular loaf shape. And my son insisted on trying to make a hammer so we did that too. We also did a more non-traditional meal of Sloppy “Joe’s” in honor of Joseph’s name, but there’s an Italian tradition we may try next year where pasta is served with seasoned breadcrumbs and the breadcrumbs are supposed to represent “sawdust” from Joseph’s work. Next year I hope to have the budget to make the traditional cream puffs!
*Service: One of my dear friends in my MOPS group spoke to us recently about her experience with the foster care system in Arizona. We brought in various donations to help foster kids who are often transitioned from house to house with nothing but a trash bag and a few items of their own. Since St. Joseph is the patron saint of foster fathers, we went shopping for a few simple items we could donate to kids in the foster system. This was really good for my son who has SO many toys and who is in the process of learning gratitude. (If you are interested in donating and are local to Arizona, you can do so at any Mattress Firm location) Given that this is also the time of year many people are doing their taxes, you could also use this day to consider making a donation to help out foster kids!
It was a great day filled with a lot of reflection and joy.