The Church has always seen priests as spiritual fathers, called to spiritually nourish their people with the Sacraments and inspire new generations of men and women to follow Jesus faithfully in every sphere of life. They are also called to be joyful models of self-giving love as celibates dedicated to God and the Church. In this way they are both free to assist families and also support vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Pope Francis has reminded priests that they should have a fatherly concern for the people in their care, telling them that if a man has no desire to be a father in some way “something is missing”.
“All of us [men], to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood…Fatherhood is giving life to others…[in the case of a priest] it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers.” – Pope Francis, Vatican Homily | 26 June, 2013
At Baptism, we become the beloved child of God, spiritually adopted by our Heavenly Father for all eternity.
St Joseph, husband of Mary and adoptive father to Jesus, would have to be the spiritual father ‘par excellence’. Here author Bob Waruszewski in The Catholic Gentleman blog shares his love of St Joseph and reasons why this saint is a great spiritual father and role model for men.
Five reasons every man should love St Joseph
St Joseph often slips under the radar because of his quiet demeanour and hidden life. However, he has much to teach us about growing in holiness. Here are five reasons to discover St Joseph.
- He is the patron saint of workers
As men, work takes up a great portion of our lives. St Joseph can teach us how to work well if we ask him. One way to do this is to start your work day with a prayer to St Joseph. St Joseph is also good to invoke if you are having difficulty finding a job. He was commissioned to provide for the Son of God, so he fully understands the pressure men face to provide for their families.
- His intercession is powerful
A seminarian once explained that whenever he needed something, he asked for St Joseph’s help, and his needs were met. Over the past few years, I have witnessed this in my own life. St Joseph has answered many of my prayers, whether it be finding a job or starting a family. In her autobiography, St Teresa of Avila promoted devotion to St Joseph and his unique relationship to Jesus made him a powerful intercessor for any kind of need.
- He models fatherhood for us
God the Father chose St Joseph from all men to be the foster-father of Jesus. That truly says something about his character, for he was entrusted with leading, providing for and protecting the Son of God and God’s greatest creature, Our Lady. Joseph faithfully served the Holy Family and protected them from danger so that they could fulfil God’s mission. St Joseph taught Jesus in his humanity how to be a man. No doubt he taught him how to be a faithful Jew, as well as the trade of carpentry. He models well for us fathers how to be the spiritual leaders of our families. Like St Joseph, we are called to show the love of God the Father to our wives and children.
- He was an obedient man
Every time God asked him to do something, Joseph was eager to say yes. Whether that was taking Mary as his wife, going to Bethlehem for the census, or fleeing with his family to Egypt, Joseph always followed God’s will immediately. In an age where we are told to do things our own way, Joseph is a great reminder that true greatness is found in following God’s will, not our own.
- He was a man of silence
We never hear a word from St Joseph in the Bible for he was a man of great silence. Because of this silence, he was able to hear God’s voice and discern his will for the Holy Family. In an age of noise and many words, Joseph reminds us that if we wish to hear God’s voice, we must quiet our hearts and enter into the silence.
“Some saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking”. – St Thomas Aquinas
About The Catholic Gentleman
Founded by Sam Guzeman, this is a blog for Catholic men which promises there is nothing more difficult, rewarding, or manly than becoming a saint.
“The spiritual life is full of combat, struggle, hardship, and adventure requiring blood, sweat, tears, perseverance, and courage,” says Sam. “Catholic men are called to leave mediocrity behind and to strive for greatness. The Catholic Gentleman exists to inspire men to holiness—to love God, to serve others, and to deny self. And to do it all with class and classic manly flair.”
St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (Sept 23)
Born in Italy in 1887, this Capuchin Franciscan Friar was known for his great sanctity, gifts of healing and other miraculous phenomena such as the stigmata (open wounds of Christ) which he bore on his hands, feet and side for 50 years.
He was devoted to his spiritual children; these were people who sought his advice as their spiritual director in person and in hundreds of letters. He is said to have remembered all of their names and details of their lives. People would travel from far to see him – even sleeping outside the remote convent which had no hotels nearby.
He often promised that after his death he would help his spiritual children and stand at heaven’s threshold until they and their families had entered. He also said that after his death (which was in 1968) he would consider as his spiritual child anyone who persisted in prayer and doing good and had a Mass said occasionally for his intentions.
Judging by the fact that he is a very popular saint and there are hundreds of St Padre Pio prayer groups still active today, this spiritual Papa is kept very busy!