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Happy Saint Joseph's Day!

March 19, 2009

Good long has it been since I actually have written a saints post and not just linked into older ones? I don't know how long it's been, but Anthony of Padua is beginning to give me the eye.

Anyway, today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph. You know him better as the earthly father of Jesus H Tap-Dancing Christ, our buddy savior and various other sweet epithets that really spice up a resume. Joseph, as you know, was a carpenter. As such, he was fond of nailing things...except for his wife, the ever-virgin Mary.

I've always thought Joseph must be history's most patient and forgiving man, because, honestly, can you imagine how that conversation went down?

Mary: Um, honey, great news. I'm pregnant.
Joseph: *spit take* Jesus Christ! What?
Mary: Exactly.
Joseph: No, I You know how a baby gets in there, right?
Mary: Yes, Joe, I know how they get in there. I had fifth grade health class, you know. We sat in the back together and giggled.
Joseph: Then, you've got some 'splainin' to do, woman.
Mary: Well, see, the midichlorians in my blood exuded an all powerful aura and from there the child was conceived.
Joseph: Don't give me that 'midichlorian' bullshit. Who's the father?
Mary: You're right. That story is completely unbelievable bullshit. The father is God.
Joseph: God??? You slept with Morgan Freeman? What's he like? Is he as nice in person as he seems?

As Joseph served as the earthly incarnation of a father for Jesus, many countries--especially those that have a highly Catholic population, like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium--celebrate Father's Day on St. Joseph's Feast Day. The Feast of Saint Joseph, itself, is one in which the community seeks to help the poverty-stricken members. On many altars, along with food, there is a small dish for donations to help the poor, and the food collected on the altar is also distributed to those who need it most.

Due to Joseph's gentle, forgiving style, St. Joseph has been tabbed as the Patron Saint of fathers (naturally), expectant mothers (makes sense), against doubt (reasonable), married people (does that come with an "I Heart My Marriage" t-shirt?), unborn children (isn't that redundant?), house hunters (huh?) and people who fight Communism (what the hell?). Because of his chosen career, he is the Patron Saint of carpenters, craftsmen, cabinetmakers, wheelwrights, workers, confectioners (mmm...cake) and civil engineers. A whole host of places have adopted Saint Joseph as their Patron, including Croatia, Belgium, Canada, Sicily, San Jose, Mexico, Korea, the New World, Louisville, KY, Hartford, CT and Blueball, PA.

A tale comes from Sicily (where Saint Joseph is Patron Saint) of a drought that threatened the entire population. Everyone got together and prayed to Saint Joseph to break the drought. When the rains finally came, everyone was so thrilled that they celebrated by preparing a feast. On Sicily, the crop that saved everyone from starvation was the fava bean, which is why fava beans traditionally are eaten on the Feast Day of St. Joseph. No word on whether liver and chianti are also part of the celebratory meal.

My undergrad institution, St. Joseph's College, is obviously tied in with the patronage of St. Joseph. Traditionally on this day, the students at SJC will get up, think about going to class, stumble into a boring Core lecture, and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking and bitching about the cost of tuition followed by a hearty game of beat the shit out of Rich Gallo. No, wait, that last part was only for fire drills.

Not much is known about the actual life of Saint Joseph, except that he was a carpenter (or a woodworker of some sort) and loved bass fishing. He never speaks in the Gospels (probably because he kept muttering stuff under his breath about ever virginal) and it is not known where or when he died, but it is commonly accepted that he was dead before Jesus was crucified. Traditionally, Mary is shown as a widow at the time of Christ's death, and from there it was interpreted that Joseph had already shuffled off this mortal coil. Some traditions claim that he died in Nazareth, but no one is exactly sure. The Catholic tradition has him dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary, which would also imply in Nazareth, but no cause or ailment is mentioned.

If you happen to work with or sit next to or otherwise harass on a daily basis someone named Joe, make sure to wish them a Happy Saint Joseph's day. Also, you should probably drink an extra cup of coffee.


BeckEye said...

One of my roommates is from St. Joseph, MO, but she doesn't know any of this stuff. She just knows where the good rib places are.

Soda and Candy said...

I feel so enriched!

(I like how you just threw old J-Mo in there to get your daily dose of boobs & red hair!)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Beckeye: Then send her a link and get to educatin' her rib-lovin' ass!

@ Soda & Candy: Do you get the reference?

Girl Interrupted said...

Poor old Joe! He earned that canonization.

Great blog :)

Nikki said...

I must now speak with my Nonna about the Sicilian drought and ask her if St Joseph is one of her "good" saints or not.

Lisa said...

I am educated and laughing all at the same time. good stuff. :)

words...words...words... said...

You might appreciate this hilarious video today:

Nej said...

I've actually been researching good old St. Joe today...because this really strange lady who temps in our accounting department was telling everyone she's wearing red...for him.

The kicker that made me look him up....she mentioned something about him being the Patron Saint of Poles. Which I took to mean, the Polish. But you never know with her. :-)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Girl Interrupted: Without a doubt. I kind of wonder if "he was good with his hands when working with wood" was just a euphemism.

@ Nikki: Nonna must have a good memory, since the drought was reported to have happened during the Middle Ages. Ask her how she managed to avoid The Plague, while you're at it.

@ Lisa: Well, I see my work here is done.

@ Words^3: And I thought what I wrote was sacrilegious! Well, it was, but mine had more implied domestic violence and less hip thrusting.

@ Nej: She's hopped up on something. Unless he's the Patron Saint of Poland in the Eastern Orthodox Church, he's not the Patron Saint listed in the Catholic Church. Casimir and Stanislas are two of the bigger names, but Poland does have about six Patron Saints--none of which are St. Joseph or anything near the name Joseph. And, if it's in the Eastern Orthodox church, his feast day is the Sunday after the nativity, so she's off there, too. So, obviously, she's been dropping acid. You should call the cops. Or a bull.

pistols at dawn said...

He really gets a thankless role, because God nails his old lady first, Jesus doesn't really listen to him and is all, "You're not my real dad!" and then he dies without pomp or circumstance. I feel like I'm going to grow up to be a lot like him.

diane said...

I totally agree with Pistols at Dawn, but may I add, that he probably always got "dibbs" on the white meat at dinner (I'm just saying).

Moooooog35 said...

I also heard he's the patron saint of Union-mandated coffee breaks.

Soda and Candy said...

mjenks - no, I guess I missed it!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Pistols: Oh, I totally forgot about that "You're not my real dad" teenage rebellion. No wonder there's that huge-ass gap between teaching in the Temple and calling the vendors on the steps a bunch of filthy Jews. Wait...

@ Diane: You're saying he was a breast man over a thigh man?

@ Moooooog35: You're probably absolutely right. I mean, they are sucking down cups of Joe, right?

@ Soda and Candy: The fava beans, chianti and liver reference (along with the Italy thing...think elephants and invasions) are a refernce to Hannibal Lector, and Julianne Moore played Clarice Starling in the movie Hannibal.

Soda and Candy said...

oh, of course. thanks!

Sassy Britches said...

Mmmmm, cake.

Seriously, how'd that one get shoved in there?

Fancy Schmancy said...

Obviously, I'm not a very good Catholic. While I appreciated the history lesson, I was all, "Whaa, how did Hartford, CT end up on that list?!"

CT seems to be taking a pretty bad beating this week...