Grace has a way of showing up when we are at the end of ourselves. And that’s what happened in graduate school. That’s where I met John. Eventually, we married and began rebuilding a family out of the ashes.
I look back over the years now and realize just what a gift John has been in my life. Like so many other step-fathers (and step-mothers), he has taken on a responsibility he did not have to accept. He has become a father to my children and given them the most normal childhood one can possibly have when their biological parents are not both under the same roof.
Daily, John has picked up this unique cross and carried it with a very steady hand. In many ways, he has been my St. Joseph. He could have married a woman without children, a woman without a non-sacramental marriage in her past. He could have remained unmarried and spent his salary on himself rather than on orthodontia bills and school clothes. Instead, he has given his entire life to making a family where there was very little hope for a normal future. He has offered advice and meted out discipline, always carefully weighing in the balance the fact that he is not the biological father, and yet he is a father. He is a St. Joseph in this family. And I know that Our Lord’s beloved foster father, the real St. Joseph, must be interceding on John’s behalf.
Every family needs St. Joseph. We need someone to carry our burdens to the Lord and intercede for our children. We need someone to pick up the pieces when we are at the end of ourselves. We need a saint who is given to the mission of helping the family to endure the present age and triumph in its effort to raise saints for the Kingdom of God. St. Joseph is that saint. As Pope John Paul II said, "Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.”
He is a patron saint for every family and most especially for every step-parent and non-traditional family that is trying very hard to create a home following their own cataclysmic familial event. As Pope John Paul II went on to say of this great saint, “May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.”
(from APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO TO THE EPISCOPATE TO THE CLERGY AND TO THE FAITHFUL OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN THE MODERN WORLD)
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Luke 2:20, 24 NAB)