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Saint Joseph Lends a Hand

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By Mary Clark

It has been on the bathroom mirror for as long as I can remember — as far back as when I used to stand on the toilet seat to watch my father shave. I have a memory of asking what it was and why it was there and hearing his response. "That is the prayer to St. Joseph," he said, "and I read it every morning to ask St. Joseph to watch over all of us. Listen to what it says ..." and he proceeded to read "An Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph."

My father is a Joseph and has always had a devotion to St. Joseph, whose feast day we celebrate on March 19. As a man who made a living working with his hands, he has always considered our spiritual father to be his patron saint, and he (and Mom) made sure they shared the devotion with us. Growing up, the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19 was just as important as St. Patrick's Day (my mom is Irish).

As a teenager, I tried to faithfully pray to St. Joseph for his protection, and my siblings and I to this day believe we won't die a horrible death because of our prayers back then. Since I returned to the Church and started working here at the Marian Helpers Center, I have come to a new appreciation for St. Joseph and his role as patron of the Universal Church and foster father and protector of Jesus.

But it really is my father who has done the most to cement my devotion to St. Joseph, and this is how: Last spring he pulled me aside, somewhat conspiratorially, to tell me he wanted to do something for our local parish. "There is a tabernacle that Father would like to install in the chapel, but it needs a cabinet around it. I'm going to build the cabinet. I don't want to tell a lot of people because I want to take my time and do it right without any pressure."

My father works with his hands, as I said, but this is the first time I know of that he attempted to craft something like this — something that would go beyond the boundaries of his own house. I knew from his tone that he was serious about wanting it to be worthy of residing in God's house, and maybe a little doubtful of his ability to make it happen.

He spent quite a bit of time finding the lumber (it had to be oak) and spent I don't know how much time making drawings and taking measurements. Progress was made, and one day, when I was admiring his work, Dad said, "I can't take much of the credit, Mare. Every day when I've been out here working, I've prayed to St. Joseph to help me, and all of the things I was most worried about doing have gone just great."

So, the tabernacle is now built (as you can see above). All that remains is to actually make the installation, which will require more hands. I know for certain that St. Joseph guided my father's hands and heart in this project, just as he has done for the entire 87 years of Dad's life. I can only pray that he will do the same for me.

Mary Clark is a third-generation Marian Helper. Her grandfather donated dairy cattle to the Marians in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the 1940s, and her uncle worked on the construction of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

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Sonia - Mar 18, 2016

Oh my! That is amazing workmanship. How beautiful!

Elizabeth - Mar 18, 2016

Generations of Marian Helpers! Cool!
St. Joseph, Patron Saint of workers, pray for us!