Good Saint Joseph has been on my mind this morning. As I reflected on the Joyful Mysteries, I paused at the Nativity. I thought about what it must have felt like to be St. Joseph. Here he was given the tremendous responsibility of caring and providing for the Holy Family, yet one of his first tasks is a complete and total failure by human standards. His very pregnant wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary, must have felt horribly for him as he knocked at each inn door in Bethlehem. I’m sure he worked hard to find them a safe place to spend the night. But in the end, there was no room in the inn.
Many Christians and non-Christians seem to be following the idea: if you believe, you will succeed. If this was truth, then surely St. Joseph would have easily found a room for him and his expectant wife. However, neither Mary’s prayers or St. Joseph’s prayers were answered. Perhaps, God had a greater plan than either of them could humanly see or conceive.
How often have I fallen into the trap of the wrong belief I mention above. I would add my own twist which is: if you believe and work hard, you will succeed. God has allowed me to experience plenty failures when I pursue things that really don’t matter. He can see inside my heart and knows when I need a good dose of humility. My self-reliance and pride can kick into high gear very easily, and only He knows how to temper that for me. When I am full of myself, there is no room in the inn for God or the Holy Spirit. It’s when I let go of my grand plans and acknowledge that my entire existence rests in His hands that wonderful things begin to happen. Sometimes, I have had to knock on many doors before I realize I am knocking on the wrong doors. He just patiently waits for me or sometimes knocks me over to get my attention!
Let’s pray for the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker when we find ourselves struggling with pride or self-reliance.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.
Jesus, I trust in you!
Running on empty is never a good thing. I remember a recent road trip where had a van full of nieces and nephews who I was bringing back home with me. We were enjoying ourselves tremendously as we drove across the state. About two hours into the drive, I suddenly remembered that I never filled up with gas before leaving. I did a quick check of my gas gauge and realized that I was running on fumes in a section of the state that has no gas stations. In fact, that area is simply miles and miles and miles of country land. My prayers began in earnest. I called upon my Guardian Angel, St. Christopher and the Blessed Virgin Mary. I knew how few miles I had left before I ran out of gas. I also knew the next gas station was further than the gas in my tank could take me. This was a moment of desperation, and my prayers rose to a high pitch. May I add that it was a very hot day and we had little or no water in the car. I was envisioning myself and the children sitting on the side of the road sweating and dehydrated.
By this time, my prayer was sweating out of my pores! I tried to hide the tears streaming down my face. Suddenly, an exit with a gas station appeared. I quickly made my way to the gas station and filled up my tank. I know exactly how much gas my minivan’s tank can hold. However, when I filled my tank, the meter read .1 gallons more than my tank could hold. How was that possible? I have no idea but I surely know now that full is so much better than empty!
I share this story to say that I spent the weekend with my oldest children at an amazing conference put on by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. I have to tell you that spiritually I had been running on empty. I was not taking the time I needed to fill myself up with God’s grace. This weekend was like standing under a fire hose of the Holy Spirit! To say I am “full of grace” does not seem like an understatement. I recognize now that I need to stop running so hard and take time to fill up throughout my day. Enough of the running on empty. Too scary. Too tiring. Too worrisome. Instead I will pray, I will make time to read scripture, and I will spend time with our Lord in the Eucharist. I pray that my grace will overflow on those around me and fill them up! (and so on, and so on, and so on!)
If you pray for patience, God will bring you the perfect opportunities to learn how to be patient. If you pray for humility, He will do the same. I know this to be true because every time I think that I need work on a virtue, I think that praying for it will be some kind of short cut to learning how to live that virtue. Ha. Ha. Ha. Life doesn’t work that way, and neither apparently does God. You see, anything that is worthwhile takes time. I have been remodeling my bathrooms. My experience at this is basically nill. I am not too proud to ask for help. I just cannot at this moment afford professional contractors whose bids could pay for a semester of my son’s future college. So, I pick the brains of my siblings and parents and friends. Sometimes, one of them actually helps me do something, like change out the sinks. Because bathrooms are small, it seems like they should be quick and easy to update. That’s a joke.
I remember the first house my husband and I purchased. It had solid bones but was definitely outdated. We spent the first few years of our marriage (before we had children) painting and updating that house. One of the first rooms we tackled was…you guessed it: the bathroom. It was more like a small closet. It also had lots of bump outs and wall surfaces. I chose a gorgeous vertical stripe wallpaper (popular back then) for the upper portion, and a solid dark blue paint for below the chair rail. It was during this project that I realized that my husband and I would stay married forever.
Why? Because every time we went to hang a piece of vertical stripe paper, it appeared to be diagonal. Not one single wall in that closet/bathroom was plumb. We started just “eyeballing” it, which worked until we hit a turn in the wall which was also not plumb. Our patience was increased by leaps and bounds throughout that project.
Fast forwards to today. I should have remembered all the time it took for that silly little bathroom when I undertook mine. One is completed (almost…there are always those nagging little details that need finishing up) and the other is 15% complete. I try to keep smiling and thanking God for giving me such a dose of patience and humility all in one project, as I scrub the tile with a toothbrush to bring back its original beauty. Tonight, I grout. Tomorrow, I install the toilet! Any well wishes and prayers are appreciated as I honestly have no idea what I am doing!