At the foot of Mount Royal in Montreal, there is a statue of St. Joseph that greets the millions of pilgrims who come to St. Joseph’s Oratory every year to pay homage to this saint. On the statue’s pedestal are inscribed the words, Ite Ad Joseph: Go to Joseph.
These words were the mantra of St. André Bessette, the founder of St. Joseph’s Oratory, whose legendary holiness and healing powers gave him the name of the “Miracle Man of Montreal.” St. André’s devotion to Joseph was partly attributed to the esteemed position that the foster father of Jesus holds in the heart of every Holy Cross religious. It was Blessed Basil Moreau who declared St. Joseph as patron of the community of brothers in his newly formed Congregation of Holy Cross.
But why should we go to Joseph? What is so special about Joseph that we should go to him with our aching souls, our hearts’ desires, and our longings for holiness?
The answer is simple. In all of his ordinariness, Joseph embodies the qualities for which all Christians long: integrity, fortitude, fidelity, and holiness. In living out his vocation of being the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus, Joseph remained loyal, faithful to his mission, and unselfishly open to the will of God. Joseph did this not out of blind obedience or ignorance; he did it simply out of love.
Joseph remains a model of how to live out our baptismal call to holiness and how to do it well. Through Joseph’s example, we see how a vocation to marriage, single life, priesthood, or religious life requires more than just being dutiful, more than just putting in our time and fulfilling our obligations. It requires love, a love for the One who calls us and a love for those we are called to serve.
That is why we need to go to Joseph, and not just with our prayers of intercession and petition. We need to go to him so that we can learn how to live our own vocations well. By deepening our devotion to Joseph and learning how to love as he loved, we will be able to embrace more fully the holiness that is integral to our own vocations.
We cannot wait—let us follow Saint André Bessette and Blessed Basil Moreau and go to Joseph.
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C.