Why I’m renewing my devotion to St Joseph today

A detail from Saint Joseph and the Christ Child by Guido Reni (CNS)

St Teresa of Avila said that St Joseph never refused her anything on his feast day, March 19. Today is March 10 and marks the first day of the novena to St Joseph. Usually, people pray to St Joseph to find them a job. Men tend to pray to the foster father of Jesus to find them good wives. Women pray to him for decent husbands.

The 16th Century nun, St Teresa of Avila had a very serious reason for beseeching St Joseph. Not very long after St Teresa was professed a Carmelite nun, she was stricken with a strange illness. At its worst, she fell into a coma that lasted four days. As she lay unconscious it was feared that she was dead. After coming out of this coma, she was paralysed and confined to bed for at least three years. But when she prayed to St Joseph, she was healed of her chronic sickness. Never forgetting this favour, St Theresa always called attention to the remarkable intercessory powers of St Joseph.

St Teresa had a neat explanation as to why St Joseph is so successful in answering our prayers. It is that Our Lord Jesus Christ had to obey St Joseph when He was a Child, and so in Heaven, Our Lord still does as St Joseph asks.

While I am aware that great favours are given to people who pray to St Joseph, I have been reluctant to pray to him in recent years. I used to have a fervent devotion to St Joseph. When I was in my late teens, I had the novena to St Joseph blue-tacked to my bedroom wall. On most days, before going to university lectures, I prayed to St Joseph for the stamina to write my many essays and to pass my exams.

But in the last ten years, I have not prayed to St Joseph very much at all. This year I am tempted to pray to St Joseph again. The comedy writer Tom Leopold who converted to Catholicism told me why he chose St Joseph as his patron saint, “I wanted the greatest father figure… And St Joseph’s wife gave birth to God, and St Joseph raised the Child. There can’t be a better father than that!”

Following Tom Leopold’s example, I am going to renew my devotion to St Joseph and start praying the novena to St Joseph today.