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St. Joseph, Mirror of Patience

St. Joseph, Mirror of Patience
09 Feb 2021 by Fr. Corey Tufford

Saint Joseph is called the “mirror of patience.” He reflects for us what patience looks like with the model of his saintly life. He reflects patience in how he endured difficulties without abandoning himself to sorrow and without losing sight of the good toward which he was striving.

 

As the leader of the holy family, St. Joseph had to endure many difficulties, which are reported in sacred Scripture — waiting for the Lord to direct him with regard to Mary’s wonderous pregnancy; waiting three months to see his wife again while Mary visited Elizabeth; journeying with Mary and Jesus into Egypt and not knowing how long he would have to support his family in this place far from home.[1] And yet, as the mirror of patience, St. Joseph endured these difficulties with the help of God’s grace and kept his eyes fixed on the goods that made this endurance worth it — love for his family, for others, for God, and as opportunities to grow in virtue.

 

We don’t become morally virtuous people without making choices to exercise our will in choosing the good. God’s grace helps us on this journey, but we still need to make choices. In order to become patient people we need to choose to exercise our will to resist submitting to sorrow when faced with difficulties and we do this in favor of a good that makes this endurance worth it. More specifically, to practice patience means to choose to endure difficulties with a balanced mind so that we don’t abandon with an unbalanced mind the goods whereby we may advance to better things.[2]

 

If I’m at work and my superior or coworkers (perhaps without knowing it) cause my work experience to be burdensome, this may be an opportunity by which I can grow in patience. Instead of complaining (in my head or out loud), instead of stewing in my sadness over the situation, I can choose to remember the good which makes enduring these trials worth it. I can choose to remember that this work helps me to support my family. I can choose to remember that this work helps the customers I encounter on a daily basis. Finally, I can choose to remember that each difficult experience offers me an opportunity to grow in virtue by being merciful, forgiving, growing in being assertive, and learning to check my ego by practicing meekness.

 

God permits us to experience trials and hardships as a means for us to grow in virtue. He is a good Father who knows which challenges are going to help us, and those around us, as we choose to cooperate with His grace. May we remember to ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, mirror of patience, in these moments of hardship and continue on our journey of growing in holiness.

 

[1] Cf. Donald H. Calloway, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, 55.

[2] Summa Theologica II-II, Q. 136, Art.1, s. c.