MICHIGAN CITY – Father Nate Edquist described St. Joseph as “a man of action, not a man of words” during his talk on the Patron Saint of Fathers, the Universal Church and of a Happy Death.
He explained how little information there is on St. Joseph, adding there is not a single word from St. Joseph recorded in Scripture. “We know very, very little for someone who, second to the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the most important person.”
Father Edquist spoke on St. Joseph to nearly 60 people who attended Tapped In on Oct. 6 at Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria. The event was sponsored by the Queen of All Saints’ education and faith commission. The talk comes as the Church celebrates The Year of St. Joseph, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being solemnly declared Patron of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX.
Although there is very little that can be derived from the few episodes of Joseph’s life as mentioned in the Gospels, Father Edquist said this year is an opportunity to reflect on his life. He pointed out how, in almost every recorded episode of Joseph’s life, there was an encounter with an angel: the espousal between Joseph and Mary, the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and their return back to Israel. “You have four dreams of Joseph where an angel speaks to him. We don’t hear any words from St. Joseph, but again, Joseph is a man of action and not a man of words. When he receives a command from the Lord, he acts upon it.”
Father. Edquist offered the wives in attendance, whose husbands may be somewhat less vocal, a glimmer of hope. “Wives, please don't write off your husband because they don't speak much to you, which could have been the case with St. Joseph. So please have faith that your husbands can still be just as virtuous and wonderful as St. Joseph,” which drew immediate laughter.
Known as a carpenter, Father Edquist explained the original word in the gospel is tekton, which translates to craftsman or artisan. He told the crowd there isn’t a lot of wood in the area, and that the land would have been mostly rocky due to the desert terrain. “Joseph probably could've worked with rocks and maybe olive wood. He could have been your everyday handyman, fix-it man or maybe had his own shop of things he produced himself.”
Known as the Patron Saint of Fathers, St. Joseph gives men a role model they can look up to for what it means to be a good husband and father. “What other time in recent memory has there been a greater need for fathers? When there's an absence of fathers in the world, in children's lives, we see how things have just gone horribly wrong.” Father Edquist explained how studies have shown that children take after the faith of their father, not just boys but girls as well. “There’s something about a dad, in his practice of the faith and in his intimacy with the Lord, that has such a huge impact on the life of children. It allows them to see God as a loving father.”
He quoted Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Patris Corde. “Fathers are not born but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.”
Father Edquist told the group that Joseph was Jesus's father in every sense of the term, except biologically. “Joseph was present for almost everything that happened in Jesus's hidden life from when he was born, growing up, until the day Joseph died.”
In preparing for the upcoming weekend’s homily, Father Edquist said he often tries to picture himself within the readings, something he had the audience do. “Can you imagine the interior vulnerability to be asked to do something that no one has been asked – to protect the Incarnate Son of God?”
He shared how priests become spiritual fathers. “That is one of my core identities. If people are going to call me father, then it means to be a spiritual father. It doesn't mean that you’re just a parish leader, anyone could do that.”
Father Edquist said there are many opportunities to deepen a devotion to St. Joseph. The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph; March 19 is St. Joseph Feast Day; St. Joseph the Worker is May 1. There is the Litany of St. Joseph, Consecration to St. Joseph or even The Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph.
Event coordinator Eileen Smiertelny was happy that Tapped In is back, following a break due to the pandemic. “I’m very excited that so many people came out. I just love seeing people coming out and learning more about their faith.”
Rebecca Nolan thought Father Edquist’s talk was very insightful into the life of St. Joseph. “I learned a lot of things I never knew. For example, the journey to Bethlehem for Joseph and the pregnant Mary was 91 miles. I didn’t know it was that far away.”
Kathy and Jim Irons agreed the session hit on good points, especially regarding the family. “It hit home, especially at the end when he talked about how the children usually follow a father’s faith and how fathers are so important to the family,” said Kathy.
George Nolan noted how Father Edquist’s talk helped tie things together about St. Joseph’s life and the importance of fathers. “We need to get men back to church and start practicing their faith.”