What do you do with a problem in life or a difficulty in relationship that gnaws at your heart, disturbing your peace? Worry is not the solution to a problem. In fact, worry damages one’s health. Yet, people say ‘don’t worry’ about such and such a problem! It will pass. People cope with problems in different ways.
In the book ‘I Am With you Still’, (2021), author Megan McKenna, while on a visit to South America told of a young girl whom she met when she stayed with a family there. She showed Megan a small set of dolls she had all of different sizes contained in the one doll. Every day the young girl took out the dolls and chatted to them about her cares in life. This helped her to deal with issues in life. Some people carry ‘worry stones.’ Others do novenas. Others share their stories with a trusted friend. Many pray the Rosary. There is wisdom in the saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’
In June 2015, Pope Francis introduced the Statue of the Sleeping St Joseph to the world. Pope Francis had a statue of a sleeping St. Joseph on his desk for years and when elected Pope; he brought the statue from Argentina to the Vatican. During his January 2015 visit to the meeting with families in Manila, he told them of his devotion to St. Joseph. He places slips of paper under his statue of a sleeping St. Joseph when he has a special problem. In that way, he asks St Joseph to take care of the problem.
Pope Francis said, “Even when St Joseph is asleep, he takes care of the church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: Pray for this problem!” Pope Francis said. “Do not forget St. Joseph who sleeps! Jesus slept with the protection of Joseph.”
Hence, these statues of the sleeping St Joseph are increasingly popular throughout the world.
Today 19 March, the Church celebrates the feast of St Joseph. People are familiar with the many images of St Joseph, holding the carpenter’s work tools, or standing with the baby Jesus in his arms or holding a lily. The Church honours Joseph as the guardian and patron of Christ’s universal Church.
So how did the image of the sleeping Joseph emerge? Pope Francis explained how the Scriptures seldom speak of St Joseph but when they do, Joseph is resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams. He said, “Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.” Like St Joseph, once we hear God’s voice, we must wake up, get up and take action.
Today the Gospel (Mt 1:16, 18-21:24) proclaimed at Mass tells the story of how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph to remain with Mary and take her as his wife, even though she was pregnant. Joseph was a man of honour and integrity and wanted to spare her from publicity. He wanted to divorce her informally. The angel told him that Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and that, her child Jesus would ‘save people from their sins.’ In his integrity and obedience, Joseph ‘did what the angel told him to do.’
VERITAS publications offers this Gospel story (Mt 1:16, 18-21:24) about St Joseph with accompanying free online resources including the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book on the website.
- Pray this prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary and Joseph may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you. Amen.
- St Joseph, pray for us.
- You might like to write out this prayer and share it with your family and friends
- See if you can find a statue of St Joseph. Look up the internet for an image of the sleeping statue of St Joseph
- You might visit the parish Church and find the statue of St Joseph and perhaps light a candle and say a prayer.
- From your Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e- book, (Fifth Class/ P7), or from your Bible, you may like to read ‘Joseph’s dream’ (Mt 1: 18-24). You might like to read the prayer to St Joseph on page 45 of the e-book.
Sr Anne Neylon