As part of our celebration of the Year of St Joseph and Amoris Laetitia-Family we are inviting a variety of voices from groups to share their journey with us.
Our thanks to Maurice Magee at Two In One Flesh for this personal and touching reflection of his journey with St Joseph
I’m going to be a Dad! What will we name him/her? Can’t wait to tell everyone, family, at work.... Oh look, here he, is a funny wriggling little boy. He is lying on his side, his eyes wide open but his lips and his tiny fingernails are blue. He’s had a struggle to be born, but he is beautiful! Margaret’s fine but very tired; a kiss, a hug, a relieved ‘well done!’ I’d better phone the grandparents....
I wonder if St. Joseph had this sense of relief and pride at the birth of Jesus and a little concern at the continuing arrival of curious visitors.
That’s how it began for me anyway. I’m so lucky and blessed: a Dad to a son who I will teach to be a good and kind man, of whom I’m so proud. And a beautiful daughter who I will cherish, gently tease and love, who I will protect with my life if necessary. We named them John Anthony and Anne Marie and thanked God for them. There has been great sadnes too. The frightening loss of an unborn baby through a miscarriage and Margaret’s slow recovery from this traumatic event as I cared as best I could for her and our very young children. I thanked God for the help of our wider family throughout this time.
I wonder if Joseph experienced that awful feeling of panic, when he thought Jesus had been lost on the visit to Jerusalem and he too needed to get back to work? I particularly recall the sense of frustration and helplessness at this time, because I too still had to work, when all I wanted was to hold and comfort her, until I came home in the evening to lend a hand with the children.
I have enjoyed the continuous challenge of being involved in their ongoing growth, education and development at home, in school, playing, bath time splashing, reading bedtime stories, teaching them to say their prayers and begin to know how God loves them too. To call us ‘Mummy and Daddy’ and learning to read the first words in their story books. It was good fun to take our fishing net and jar to fish for tiddlers, whilst mum had a little nap. I would think that Joseph and Jesus would occasionally walk down to the lake to enjoy a day fishing where he would teach him the thrill of catching fish for the first time. Perhaps on the way home with their catch, admiring the wild flowers and picking a bunch to give to mum.
I became a Dad helper with scout camps, and parental transport provider for netball teams, football and athletic events. I have reminded my children, when necessary, not to forget to say ‘please and thank you’, encouraging them to be the best they can be, each in their own unique way. I too have learned through my own mistakes, teaching them to learn from mistakes they made and to make better choices next time. Most importantly, I taught them not to take their friends for granted and, just as I had to learn, to ask for forgiveness when I got things wrong.
As they grew into young adulthood, I spoke to them about their developing and changing relationships, above all encouraging them to question and discuss the direction life appeared to be taking them. Joseph too will have talked with Jesus, perhaps discussing with him his developing idea of becoming a rabbi? Also sharing his own feelings of disappointment when he found Jesus wasn’t going to come into the family joinery business but, accepting his decision to leave home and travel abroad.
Now our son is married and lives in the USA, with his wife and two grandsons. It is particularly enjoyable travelling to babysit and take them to play in the park as I did with their dad. I have also proudly walked our beautiful daughter down the aisle of our family parish church on her wedding day as she married her husband Paul, proclaiming her marriage vows before her family, parish, and her childhood friend Fr. Barry. This story hasn’t finished: I’m still living it out, if a little creaky and slower than when it began with Margaret all those years ago.