Mar 19 – St Joseph, Mirror of Patience, a willingness to suffer

I have a special devotion to St Joseph, Mirror of Patience.  I have experienced in my life times requiring patience which still scars.  I am not an impatient person, however these times have required divine patience I do not possess on my own.  St Joseph, Mirror of Patience, save me!  Help me!

-by Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan

“Today, we want to reflect upon Joseph Mirror of Patience.

We have all heard these words many times, “Patience is a virtue.” Patience is listed by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

People talk about the ‘patience of Job”. And, it is something which many people often confess the “lack of” in the Sacrament of Penance.

And St. Joseph is seen as the Mirror of Patience. What do we mean by that? Let’s look at patience in general. We have all practiced patience on a human level, perhaps in an isolated incident or situation. I practice patience in a traffic jam; at the checkout line; with a two year old who is learning something.

Our patience can wear quite thin

But we also have experience that when something is out of our control, or when we cannot have something instantly, or when we are struggling with the same problem or issue, or when we are dealing with someone else’s faults, our patience can wear quite thin, we might say. We wonder where it went!

Finding peace and calm in our days can be very challenging with all of the different demands and pressures that we experience. What I have described is more about human patience.

Holy habits

The virtue of patience is different. Virtues in and of themselves are holy habits which help us to live more fully our relationship with the Lord. They help us to live (and love) as God desires of us. They lead us to holiness. So the virtue of patience indicates a habit of acting or perhaps better put, a way of being that has become a part of our holiness. This is the patience of St. Joseph.

Patience is willingness to suffer

When we look at this virtue, patience is willingness to suffer. A patient is one who suffers an illness not by choice, whereas a patient man is one who suffers willingly rather than relinquish the vocation given him. Joseph was patient because of his love. He was willing to suffer anything for Mary and Jesus if that is what God asked of him.

St. Joseph’s life required a lot of waiting. Imagine what must have been going through his mind when being awakened by an angel and being told to take Mary as his wife.

Imagine leaving Nazareth for Bethlehem with a pregnant wife and not knowing what would await them….only to find “no room at the inn.”

Imagine the distress

Imagine the distress he may have experienced at being awakened in the night by an angel who told him the Divine Child’s life was in danger. And he was told to take the Child and His Mother and flee immediately to a foreign country.

These are just some of the trials St. Joseph had to face as the head of his family. And what husband and father would not be in a constant state of anxiety in these situations? At least on a human level.

St. Joseph’s obedience is something I talked about a few weeks ago. Joseph was obedient in responding to God’s direction in caring for Mary and Jesus. The virtue of patience goes hand-in-hand with obedience.

St. Joseph did not demand to know the full plan laid out step-by-step before God’s time to do so.

He lived the virtue of patience

But he patiently awaited the revelation of God’s plan, submitting himself completely, always peaceful, kind, calm, and abandoned to God’s providence. He lived the virtue of patience. And he desires to help us do the same.

When we have difficulties in our lives, we should look to St. Joseph, the Mirror of Patience, and learn from him how to be patient in wearisome and painful situations, and how to bear inconveniences and hardships.

Practicing the virtue of patience

These are little crosses that God sends to us; not because he doesn’t like us – in fact, He loves us. Not because He wants us to suffer. He wants to teach us the way of holiness by practicing the virtue of patience.

Patience, and trust in God does not mean that we will be free of anxieties, or upheaval in our lives.

When Jesus was left back in Jerusalem with the Church leaders, Mary and Joseph had to go back and look for Him, and they were filled with great anxiety. But their earlier experiences in life gave them boundless confidence in Divine Providence. Their faith gave them an awareness that no matter what happens in life, God foresees it, allows it, and can bring good out of it if we trust in His loving concern.

It takes a deep faith in God

The practice of Christian patience requires that everything be seen in this light of faith. No matter where life’s trials and suffering come from, they are foreseen by God and allowed for our spiritual purification and growth. This is part of conversion. But it takes a deep faith in God to be aware of His hand in it all, and a strong trust and love of God to accept His will in patience, i.e. with an interior serenity of mind and heart. This Lenten season St. Joseph wants to teach us this….holy patience.

Our patience will be tested

As part of our human condition, our patience will be tested. It probably is on a daily basis – whether it be at home or the work place, or certain situations or events out of our control. Do we have the boundless confidence in the Lord that St. Joseph had?

Joseph lived with two perfect people. (Ed. Living with perfect people can be a cross, too, to the imperfect, most especially like me!  It shows us in the greatest contrast possible how imperfect we are!  Misery loves company, and there is no company living with perfect people!) We don’t! (Amen! Amen!) I am sure Joseph experienced unpleasant people in his life, people who were difficult to deal with. We do as well. One way we can exercise the virtue of patience is by being merciful to others, especially when we know their faults. Forgiving them, praying for them, asking God’s blessing upon them. Ask the Lord for the grace to love your neighbor.

Our faith and trust in God will deepen

By God’s grace, practicing patience means we can deal with the daily annoyances, the faults of others, the little inconveniences, and the big problems that face us. In the process of practicing the virtue of patience, our faith and trust in God will deepen.

In this season of Lent, go to St. Joseph and ask his intercession to help you be patient and merciful, trusting in God’s plan and care for you.

St. Joseph, Mirror of Patience, pray for us!”

Amen. Love,