Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Joseph, The greeting card that deepened my faith and Christian Unity

During this last week I have focused on our Coptic brothers and sisters. I plan to keep posting on the trials and suffering they endure. Once our eyes are opened to such things it is a sin to close them.

Today I'd like to focus a little on St. Joseph. He is a saint we share with all Christians, and is not mentioned a great deal in scripture. But it does say he was a just man, and justice relates very well to all my pervious posts.

I have a twin sister. As we were growing up we would always get things together. If I received a gift, so did she. If one of us went somewhere, the other did as well. The bond between twins is a deep one that influences our whole lives.

My first memory (I think I was just over two) is waking up and not knowing where I was. I climbed over the safety devices (gates and such that my mother had placed in our room just in case we started to roam around without her knowledge) and moved down the hall. I poked my head into my Mother's room, where she was talking with my oldest brother. My thought on seeing them was: "Who's that?"

I knew them, but really did not. I was a little scared and went back to my bedroom. I looked and saw my sister. I thought, "Well, That's Holly, I know her." In a moment I realized who everyone else was, but there was never a doubt that this was my little sister. Even though she was only my little sister by 5 minutes, I even knew then who she was and that I was her big brother.

One morning when I was five I came downstairs, I was always up first. In my spot at the table was a cereal bowl and a card. I looked at Holly's spot and there was a cereal bowl, but no card. I picked up the card and handed it to my mother. "This is a mistake," I said, "it must be for Bobby." My mother smiled and asked why it was a mistake. "There is nothing for Holly." I said.

My mother handed me the card and told me to open it. I did. It was a beautiful card of St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus. It said Happy St. Joseph's Day and was signed by my mother, father and both sets of grandparents who were still alive (even then, the signature from my Italian grandmother looked happy about the card).

I was confused. My mother told me, "He is your patron saint." My middle name, and the name my family calls me is Joseph. "What's a patron saint?" I asked. "That is the saint you were named after, he takes special care of you just like he took care of Jesus." I nodded and looked at Holly's spot. "Who's Holly's patron saint?" My mother looked less sure:

"I don't know if there is a saint Holly."
"Well, Joseph is my middle name is there a saint Noelle?"
"I'm sure there isn't Saint Noelle."
"That's not fair."
"What's not fair."
"I can't get something and Holly not get something. Can I share my card?"
"You can..." she was getting a little put out now "but it's your card."

She saw that I was getting upset.

"Holly and Noelle are both Christmas names," she said, "How about we give Holly an extra present on Christmas and you get one on St. Joseph's day."

This, to me was acceptable. As I ate my cereal my mother said, "Well at least Joseph is the right patron saint for you. He was a just man."

I didn't really know how that applied, but I was having coco pebbles so it was all good.

Later on in life I realized how my mother's phrase applied. And I have tried to follow the virtues of Joseph. To be obedient and faithful to grace and God's voice in my heart and to be just.

Our Coptic brothers and sisters also love the Guardian of the Redeemer. St. Joseph taught Jesus to be a man. And he loved justice.

I pray to Saint Joseph for the unity of all Christians and for justice for our Coptic brothers and sisters. I pray that as one body in Christ we may soon look into the mirror of God's love and see the face of Christ.


Bent El Neel said...

Hey there. Stumbled on your blog by coincidence...and it proved to be a lovely coincidence. I absolutely love the pictures you have here :)
I'm a Coptic girl, married to an Italian Catholic :) Our little family believes strongly in Christian unity...especially of the two great apostolic churches we belong to.
My blog mainly focuses on the suffering of Copts in Egypt, so come and visit sometime.

DavidNic said...

Thanks! I'll be sure to check out your blog.

Jazzie Casas said...

Appreciate the hard work and time taken to do this write up. Lovin this! A while back I was looking for a greeting card for a friend. I had zero luck finding what I was looking for. I told a group of friends about this problem one night while we were having a few drinks. We proceeded to get smashed and make up a bunch of greeting cards we found funny. I had been writing down the cards we made up and the next morning I read them. Much to my surprise the cards were still funny even when sober.