3 things men can learn about being a man from St. Joseph


March 20, 2014 by Alex Johannigman

This week we celebrated the solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus and a truly holy role model for all of us. Saint Francis de Sales stated “My God, how good and upright this great saint must have been if the Lord gave him the lofty privilege of being entrusted with His mother and His Son!” There are a lot of things we, especially my fellow men, can learn from St. Joseph’s humble and quiet example.

Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (c. 1635)

Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (c. 1635)

1. Actions speak louder than words. St. Joseph isn’t known for saying a lot. In fact, you’ll find no quotes from St. Joseph anywhere in the Bible. Yet he is known as a saint because of what we know about his actions. He had a dream where an angel of the Lord spoke to him, and then “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” (Matt 1:24) He doesn’t question, complain, obsess, or broadcast it. He does it. You can say that you love someone, but if you aren’t willing to make huge sacrifices for that person, what do those words really mean? St. Joseph was willing to endure the embarrassment of marrying a woman who was already pregnant with a child who wasn’t his because he wanted to be obedient to God and show his love for his beloved. He was willing to help raise that child, despite knowing that this child was the Son of the Living God. No pressure, right? Is your love for those around you shown by the actions you take and the sacrifices you make, or is it nothing more than words?

2. You have to be decisive and intentional. As we just saw, Joseph isn’t a man who complained or questioned or over-thought things. He was intentional with his actions. He knew what he had to do, and then he did it. I think this is in sharp contrast with many men today, especially when it comes to dating. We ponder and think about if someone is “the one” without taking any actions to help us figure it out. Many men don’t want to commit to women at all, so rather than being intentional with their dating and asking someone “on a date” or offering to “take her out to dinner,” they ask to “hang out” or “go grab lunch sometime,” which is cowardly and inconsiderate because it leaves a woman wondering what his motives are in the first place, making it harder to truly enjoy the time together. Even if they do start dating someone seriously, they’re tending to put off marriage to a later and later age. I don’t see St. Joseph ever pulling any of those moves. He was a man who knew what he wanted and what needed to be done and did it.

3. Humility is a virtue. You’re not always right, and it’s OK to be wrong. Imagine for a second that you are in St. Joseph’s shoes. Your wife was immaculately conceived, and your foster child is the Son of God! If anything goes wrong in that household, it was probably something that you did. Talk about a lesson in humility that lasts years and years! Men (and women) should be mindful of the fact that they will not always be right, and it’s OK to accept criticism, whether that is coming from your boss at work, a co-worker, your spouse, or your parents or children. No one is perfect, and we have a lot to learn from each other. St. Joseph taught Jesus a trade, and taught him how to be a man. He also probably learned a lot from Mary and Jesus too.

I’ve been praying this prayer to St. Joseph with my community almost every day this year, and it’s become one of my favorite prayers to St. Joseph:

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong,
so prompt before the Throne of God,
I place in you all my interests and desires.

O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession
and obtain for me from your Divine Son
all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;
so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power
I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage
to the most Loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms.
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me,
and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls,
pray for us.


One thought on “3 things men can learn about being a man from St. Joseph

  1. jonathanedwardmcdonald says:

    “Even if they do start dating someone seriously, they’re tending to put off marriage to a later and later age. I don’t see St. Joseph ever pulling any of those moves.”

    St. Joseph might not be the best example if we’re talking about dating and marriage. He didn’t even want to get married to the Blessed Virgin! They had to cast lots and force him into it. He was also indecisive about whether or not to divorce her when he found out she was pregnant.


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