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Joseph, Head of the Family: Father knows best

June 3, 2020

Editor’s note: In May, Bishop Terry R. LaValley consecrated the Diocese of Ogdensburg to St. Joseph. To celebrate that consecration, the NCC will be featuring occassional columns highlighting St. Joseph.

By Sister Mary Eamon Lyng, SSJ

We will soon be approaching Father’s Day celebrating those Dads who provide care and love for their families. There was never any question who was the head of our family! My father, in partnership with my mother, worked to provide and care for us as family.

As I reflected on both my father and mother, the person of St. Joseph was front and center, even though his presence was a silent one. He has had a strong influence on our family. During the plague of the early 20th century, my father had two sisters named Mary and Elizabeth and a brother named Joseph that died. He never knew them, but their memory lives on. My sister has the name Mary Elizabeth and my youngest brother’s middle name is Joseph. In my father’s discernment of vocation, he went to St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, to pray to St. Joseph to guide him in his life’s journey. It was there that he met Brother André. He brought back a bust of Brother André, now placed next to St. Joseph in my bedroom. He also brought back a crucifix with a plaque on the back that reads St. Joseph’s Oratory. This crucifix hung in our dining room until he went to the nursing home, where the crucifix again was hung. It was on this trip that he learned of a job offer with a tobacco company. It was soon afterwards he met my mother, married and began a family. He said it was his prayer to St. Joseph that guided his decision. It was in our home that our faith grew. We went to Holy Family School and IHA/IHC and were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. After graduation from high school, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. The youngest child in my sister’s family, who is now in heaven, had Joseph as his middle name. Both my mother and father died on Wednesdays, the day dedicated to St. Joseph.

Maybe many of us remember the series, “Father Knows Best” with Robert Young and Jane Wyatt. Whatever we remember from the series, there was always the children who could turn to their father because “Father Knows Best.” This is also true of the story of St. Joseph. The journey for Joseph was not an easy one – to Bethlehem, to Egypt, back to Nazareth. Joseph was strengthened by his faith amid the weariness and suffering he endured through these trials. Mary needed Joseph for wisdom, guidance, compassion, courage and strength to care for Jesus and her. She knew that “Father Knows Best.” Joseph was a gentle and loving father who protected them and kept them from danger.

It was in the home of Joseph that Jesus learned the trade of being a good carpenter like his father, thus, sanctifying the work of human hands. Jesus never tired hearing those who knew him refer to him as “the carpenter’s Son.” It was in the home of Joseph that Jesus learned to pray, especially the psalms. Joseph took the Child and Mary on pilgrimage to the Temple to celebrate the Jewish festival feasts. On one occasion, after a three-day search, Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple talking to the priests. Jesus obediently went home with Joseph and Mary. Jesus learned that the “Father Knows Best,” and He grew “in wisdom and age.”

During this Year of St. Joseph, why not place a picture of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family in a prominent place in your home. Pray to St. Joseph to protect your family, strengthen it as family and to guide it on this journey of faith. Let us pray for all fathers who love, provide, care and protect their families that they may continue to create a nurturing environment in which their children may grow and thrive. The “Father Does Knows Best.” Go to Joseph. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, especially to my own father.

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