St. Joseph: A man for all seasons for marriage and family

Photo: Janis Olson Photo: Janis Olson

“When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.’” - Genesis 41:55

During my junior year in college, I studied abroad in Paris and prayed to meet my future husband. In particular, I implored the intercession of St. Joseph - after all, he was Our Lady’s husband, and therefore, surely, the best husband in the world! In all the beautiful cathedrals, churches and shrines I visited, there was usually a side altar dedicated to St. Joseph, and I would take my request before him. Upon returning to Gonzaga for my senior year, I met a wonderful man. Like Joseph, he was thoughtful, quiet and liked to work with his hands. He was looking forward to being a husband and father someday. A month after we began dating, his birthday came up - on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph! We did marry, and together we continue to “go to Joseph” in prayer throughout our marriage and family life.

I now pray daily for his intercession for our daughters to know their own vocations when they grow up. I pray for their future husbands as well.

”Mom! I’m never going to get married!” one of my daughters protested when I prayed this aloud with them. No problem; I now pray for their future husbands, or future religious orders, or “whoever will help them live their vocation in life.”

St. Joseph is a wonderful intercessor for every stage of family life, from womb to tomb. He protected the infant Jesus and led him and Our Lady to safety. He is a model of chastity. He worked as a tekton (carpenter, mason or craftsman) to provide for the Holy Family. He is the patron saint of happy deaths because he himself died in the presence of Jesus and Mary. He is a provider, like Joseph son of Jacob in Genesis. God spoke to St. Joseph through dreams. St. Joseph is therefore also great to talk to about your hopes, dreams and goals for your marriage and family life.

Real estate agents and home sellers are often familiar with the superstitious practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph in your yard in hopes for his help selling your house. My husband and I have prayed non-superstitious novenas for St. Joseph’s intercession for help with buying and selling homes. When we moved away from Spokane early in our marriage, our home sold to a man named Joseph. Our most recent real estate transactions were buying our family’s home in Sumner while simultaneously selling the home we still owned in Maryland, a rental that was weighing us down. When we finally, to our great joy and relief, found a buyer in the post-2008 down market, the deal closed in the spring. On March 19. The exact same day our own lender gave final approval to release funding for us to buy our house in Sumner. Thank you, St. Joseph!

Joseph is the patron saint of the universal church, families, fathers, pregnant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general. His second feast day, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, is celebrated May 1.

I encourage you to pray to St. Joseph for your family. Ask his prayers, protection and providence for your marriage, for your children’s vocations and future spouses (or “whoever will help them live their vocation”), for your needs with work and housing, and for holy deaths for yourself and those you love. He is a capable, worthy steward. Like the Israelites seeking help in the time of famine, you can always have confidence when you “go to Joseph.”

Prayer to St. Joseph

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

Northwest Catholic - March 2019

Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is