Nationally renowned speaker offers tips for Catholic husbands, fathers during virtual men’s conference, ‘St. Joseph: A Man for Our Times’
DETROIT — Unemployment is on the rise, “stay at home” orders are confining families to tight spaces and the world seems to be teetering more and more toward uncertainty.
Now is the time for St. Joseph: A man of labor, a man of family, and a man who handled uncertainty with uncommon grace.
The Archdiocese of Detroit hosted a virtual men’s conference, “St. Joseph: A Man of Our Times,” on July 25, featuring Fr. Larry Richards, a nationally known Catholic speaker featured on EWTN and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Erie, Pa., since 2012.
During the hour-and-a-half-long conference, available here, Fr. Richards broke down the three features of St. Joseph that makes him a model for masculinity for all men: silence, obedience and guardianship.
It was these three qualities that made Joseph a worthy guardian of Mary and the Child Jesus, and a worthy intercessor for all men, Fr. Richards said.
St. Joseph does not have any words attributed to him in the Bible, but through dreams and contemplation, he communicates with God daily. Fr. Richards encouraged men to communicate with God daily, in silence, and then learn what it is God wants from them.
“In the Lord’s prayer, we are saying, ‘Your will be done,’” Fr. Richards said. “You’re saying to God, ‘I have one purpose today, to do your holy will.’ Jesus said the world must know that I love the Father and do everything to please Him. Does the world know we love the Father, and do what we must to please Him? Do you and I exist to do the Father’s holy will? The only way to do that is to listen, listen as St. Joseph listened to the Father’s will. And to do that, we must have silence in our prayer.”
Fr. Richards said the silence one has in prayer must lead to the second feature of St. Joseph: obedience to God’s will, even when that will seems mysterious or nonsensical.
Fr. Richards pointed to Joseph’s example of learning of God’s plan for Mary to be the Mother of Jesus and how he accepted that it was God’s will for him to be the foster father of the Son of Man.
In a world where independence and standing out are valued, especially among men, obedience can often be a heavy burden.
“You see on YouTube and Facebook, all these people making garbage about what a bishop or the pope should do — listen, nobody cares about your opinion, it doesn’t convert anybody,” Fr. Richards said. “Your prayer and fasting will, more than anything. Instead of opening your mouth, be a person who is obedient, especially to the pope and his bishops. That’s who we’re called to follow, to be obedient to. There are a lot of good priests and bishops; pray for them.”
Fr. Richards said silence in prayer and obedience to God’s order prepares men for their role at the head of a parish family or a nuclear family, to protect, to be a guardian, as Joseph is the guardian of the Mother of God and guardian of the Church.
“Joseph guarded Jesus when He was young so Jesus could go to the cross to redeem the world,” Fr. Richards said. “In that sense, God needs you to guard your family, to lay down your life every day for them, so they can accomplish the Father’s will. You are called to serve your wife and kids; no one is here to obey you.
“Jesus said he was called not to be served, but to serve,” Fr. Richards continued. “If Jesus served us, we must serve others. When you go home, after you pray, after you sit in silence, ask, ‘How am I serving my wife, my children today?’”
Before Fr. Richards spoke, lay men from the Archdiocese of Detroit shared their own personal testimonies on how St. Joseph has served as an intercessor for them in their role as fathers and sons of God.
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby provided his own reflection on St. Joseph to the conference, explaining how St. Joseph sets a powerful example for men to follow and is a key intercessor for men, both laity and clergy, to aid in the battles that come with living the Christian life.
“Your problems, my problems, aren’t comparatively significant with what St. Joseph dealt with in his day,” Bishop Battersby said. “We need the same thing that Joseph and the Blessed Mother needed: we need to have faith. We need to have the knowledge that God is our savior. If you lack faith, ask St. Joseph to pray for an increase in faith. If you lack courage, ask St. Joseph for an increase in courage. If you struggle with chastity, ask St. Joseph for his assistance.
“St. Joseph is a man we can go to for assistance in all of these matters, because he has shown us the way,” Bishop Battersby said. “God has made St. Joseph the defender of his Church on earth. And through him, we have a powerful intercessor.”