In honor of the great feast of St. Joseph, beloved foster father of Jesus, I decided to share my miraculous story of this holy man's intercession. Here is my St. Joseph Story.
A few years prior to meeting my husband, I considered a vocation to The Sisters of Life. At that time, the Sisters had been given a very generous portion of land to build a retreat house, on the picturesque grounds of Stamford, Conn. They wasted no time with this gift, establishing a camp on the grounds, and asked for help from any volunteers who were willing to come re-build a condemned church. The Franciscan invitation to "Rebuild my Church" was a calling that I couldn't refuse.
I was working as a campus minister in DC at the time, and had a strong and growing devotion to the Blessed Mother, usually devoting the whole month of May to meditate upon her role in the life of Jesus. It struck me that particular May, that I did not really have any relationship with her spouse, St. Joseph. Surely, I respected him greatly as the father of Christ on earth and the spouse and protector of Mary. His many yeses to God and his gentle saintly nature never made me question his goodness...but, I just didn't know him like I thought I should.
Deciding that I should also devote a month to St. Joseph exclusively, yet not really knowing where to start in establishing a relationship with the heavenly patron, I lifted up a prayer to the Holy Spirit. I would leave it in His capable hands to give me some guidance. As I went about my tasks on campus, I picked up a book, and out fell a folded piece of paper. To my amazement, it was none other than a Thirty Days' prayer to St. Joseph. Wow! I didn't even know that something like that existed. The Holy Spirit worked super quickly on that one.
I planned to dedicate the month of June to St. Joseph the worker, and to use the thirty days to ask for illumination on the nature of this saint. At the same time, I contacted the Sisters and told them that I would be packing up my car and driving out to Connecticut to help rebuild the church!
I excitedly began the prayer the day before I left on my travels, knowing it had been hand selected by the Holy Spirit! As I was packing my bags, I continued to tell myself that the only thing that really mattered was bringing that prayer.
Stopping for one night at my parents house along the way, I could NOT believe that the prayer was nowhere to be found. "Oh well," I told myself, "at least it is missing now while I still have internet access and can track it down and print it out." For hours I scoured the internet, reading through hundreds of St. Joseph prayers, yet none were the one that had fallen out of the book. Frustrated, I printed out a different one and went to bed.
The next day, I hopped in my car and made my way to a surprisingly rural and beautiful part of Connecticut. As I pulled up the long drive of the camp, I saw many tents set up and people scattered busily around the grounds. I was greeted by a joyful Sister in a blue and white habit, who said "Welcome to Camp St. Joseph!" That struck me as the first confirmation that I was in the right place to track down the details of this mysterious man who raised Jesus.
The Sister went on to tell me that they had decided to dedicate the camp to St. Joseph the worker, and that they had begun a thirty day prayer to him. I gave a little chuckle and told her that I had also started a novena to St. Joseph. She then assured me that it could not be the same prayer they were using, because they were using a very rare one. I told her that there must be several very rare ones, because I could not find the one I had anywhere on the internet.
Later that evening, the Sisters passed the prayers around to each of the volunteers. My eyes must have been as big as saucers when I looked down at the paper in my hand. My eyes met across the room with the Sister I had been greeted by earlier that day, and she just smiled and shook her head in amazement.
First, the Holy Spirit had allowed the prayer to fall out of a random book on the same day I asked Him for a St. Joseph prayer. Then, He allowed me to lose it, so that I could verify, after hours of searching, how rare it was. Finally, He led me to Camp St. Joseph, and put the same prayer right back into my hand.
In amazement, I enjoyed those two weeks with the Sisters of Life and the good-hearted volunteers who came to help. We worked, we laughed, we prayed, and we sang. There were pranks, good meals together, a church that got built from the ground up, and holy adoration in its walls for the first time.
But most importantly, I learned who St. Joseph was. Who he was to Mary, to Jesus, and to me. I knew why God had intentionally chosen him, just as He had chosen holy prophets for ages before him.
The Holy Spirit blessed my quest for the real St. Joseph, not just the silent statue holding the lilies at the front of the church.
As for the thirty day prayer, my prayers were not only answered in greater amounts than I ever could have asked, but it has been passed along and brought many blessings to others as well.
Through that prayer, a beautiful relationship with St. Joseph blossomed, my vocation was slowly revealed, and those unique qualities of St. Joseph were manifest to me in my own St. Joseph (who gave me lilies the first time he gave me flowers).
Happy Feast of St. Joseph!
Copyright 2015 Kimberly Cook
Art: St. Joseph the Giver. Copyright 2011 by Kimberly Cook. All rights reserved.
Thirty Days' Prayer to St. Joseph
In honor of the 30 years he spent with Jesus and Mary
Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving Father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow. Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection.
Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favor I ask.
I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.
I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the holy Virgin, nor a place where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave.
I ask it by the loveliness and power of that sacred Name, Jesus, which you conferred on the adorable Infant.
I ask it by that painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.
I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother into Egypt. I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.
I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country. I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows.
I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His Mother for three days. I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus. I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.
I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary. I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors.
I ask it through Mary’s glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you have with her in the presence of God.
O good father! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask. (Here name your petitions or think of them.)
Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of
JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH
"A blameless life, St. Joseph, May we lead, By your kind patronage From danger freed."
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