Day 19 of Lent 2023 🕊️ St. Joseph

Day 19 of Lent 2023 🕊️ St. Joseph

     Today we celebrate Saint Joseph, Patron of those trusting and faithful, and also patron of the dying; Joseph is invoked for a happy death. He is known as the foster father of Jesus. 

     The archangel Gabriel the Messenger is the one who let Joseph know that his wife, Mary, had immaculately conceived Jesus while Joseph had been away for 40 days.  It’s not surprising Saint Joseph is also the patron of the faithful and invoked against doubt. And, the patron of pioneers; Saint Joseph was always willing to entertain ideas. We love the saints who embrace new ideas!

     Joseph is usually depicted as an older man, toiling away at his workbench as a carpenter, or he is shown holding the Christ Child, along with a lily, representing the trinity. We have both of these images on our hand-painted saint medals, pictured above. 

    Joseph is obviously a patron of palliative care, a relatively recent development in medicine. The fresh idea surrounding palliative care is that all of those who die, and that would be all of us, should finish their final life moments without pain and with humble dignity. Dying can be a very easy death if we allow it to be so. 

     Personally, I know of only two “very easy” deaths that have occurred in my lifetime. One was the death of my father, Heinz Helmutt Clemenz (yes, he was of German ancestry) who died in Hospice Care. He was surrounded by loved ones, his wife, Josephine, his sister Dorothy, and me, along with my brother, Peter. He died on Christmas Day while “Silent Night” played quietly through the speakers of the facility. While he passed away, a single tear shed out of his left eye. It was almost as though Gabriel the Messenger was saying, “You will shed tears for your father’s passing but shed not too many, for you’ve afforded him a very easy death, surrounding him with love.” 

     The other was the death of my Dad’s sister, Dorothy, who died at home, surrounded by my brother Peter, her great nephews, and her day-by-day caretaker, and niece, Kathleen. I wish I had been there for her final moments, as she had been akin to a mother for me, after my Mom died when I was 13 years-old. Mother figures are not always the ones from whom you are conceived, though. I learned this twice, thanks to the caregiving of my Aunt Dotty and the loving attention I’ve always received from my Dad’s second wife, Josephine. 

     Saint Joseph has been described as a listener in silence. It seems many of us, (me, included!) have lost this subtle, lovely quality, to listen, in silence. Perhaps this is a message for us to try to listen more and to speak less. Hearing, learning, and listening lead to answering those yearning, to be heard and to be accepted.

     I’ll be touching on the art of listening and learning very soon, by publishing a book inspired by Marcel Proust, the author of the masterpiece “In Search of Lost Time.” The book will center on Proust’s scrapbook writings in “An Album to Record Thoughts and Feelings.” His answers were so profound the album has become known as the “Proust Questionnaire.” 

   Saint Joseph’s Memorial for Solemnity is March 19th. He listened and glistened in silence. Not one single word of Saint Joseph is written in the Gospels. It’s no wonder he is known and often referred to as the “Silent Man,” and clearly, one with a golden reputation.

Thanks for reading to the bottom line.

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