St. Joseph & Advent: Lessons on Catholic Fatherhood from St. Joseph

What does St. Joseph teach us about fatherhood? What lessons can St. Joseph give us about navigating our families through adversity?

St. Joseph navigated his family through hell and back: an 80-mile journey on the back of a donkey, labor and delivery in a stable, the death warrant of a king, and another journey through the desert into Egypt? That's a lot of pressure!

If St. Joseph could manage all that, he can definitely help families navigate all the spiritual obstacles of the modern world. 


I was recently interviewed by The Catholic Commentator about St. Joseph and Advent. Check it out below:

How St. Joseph deals with perceived infidelity

Q: St. Joseph receives the disturbing news that his betrothed is with child before they live together. As many men may have done in the situation, he could have reacted with a “surface assessment” of infidelity and put Mary through public humiliation, shame and even death. How does Joseph set an example of calmness and humility in not seeking to put her though this, which follows with an angel appearing to him and confirming that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit?

A: St. Joseph certainly offers a stark contrast to the Jerry Springer model of confronting perceived infidelity. He responds as Christ would. St. Joseph sacrifices himself, his pain, indignation, and shame, rather than cast it off onto Mary. 

Here's a quick overview of the mentions of St. Joseph in Scripture:

St. Joseph & the Angel

Q: Then the announcement from the angel. What do you envision it must have been like to have have an angel appear with the Good News, yet which also indicates he will be taking on great responsibility in taking Mary into his and being the leader of the home and caring for the Son of God?  What can we learn from his response?

A: I know we tend to focus on the great responsibility that St. Joseph takes on, but as a Father, I see another dimension to this. God has my back! That's how I would feel as Joseph. Joseph won't have to bear this burden alone. There's an extremely rough road ahead, but God's angels will never be far off. I would be emboldened to, as St. Pope John Paul II says, "put out into the deep." 

How does St. Joseph teach us to follow God step-by-step?

Q: Things must have turned out far from the way Joseph planned – the hard journey to Bethlehem, worries about how to care for the family, his wife must give birth to the Savior of the world in a stable and then the flight to Egypt. How does he teach us follow God’s lead one step at a time and move forward even when the future is uncertain?

A: I think it's interesting how St. Joseph's life recapitulates the path of the Patriarchs, in particular the Patriarch Joseph. Joseph is forced to travel and ultimately leave the Promised Land and return to Egypt, much as the Patriarch Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. The return to the Promised Land was then delayed by the disobedience of the Wilderness Generation. But St. Joseph's obedience, much like the Blessed Mother's, loosens the knot tied by the disobedience of the Wilderness Generation. 

It's important, then, for fathers to look to the example of our fathers, their failings and their victories. One step at a time, one generation at a time, we have to bring our families to Christ and His Bride, the Church. 

Also, did you know we call St. Joseph the "Terror of Demons"?

St. Joseph, Humility, and Perseverance

Q: What do think may have been moments of grace that helped St. Joseph stay strong, humble and committed during times of trouble and tribulations? 

A: I think God continued to speak to St. Joseph in his dreams. God's own screams as an incarnated newborn would have certainly infiltrated his sleep and dreams, haha! Caring for a newborn is always filled with moments of grace - all the corporal works of mercy are somehow involved - how much more so when the newborn is God, Himself? 

I can also imagine St. Joseph being constantly humbled by the donkey he was leading through rough terrain. Whether it's a bite or a kick, working with animals can be very humbling.  

All Generations will call St. Joseph "Blessed"

Q: A quiet, yet faithful saint, how has his actions resulted in him being honored today?

A: Think of all the saints and children named for St. Joseph! Just in the past year, I have had two Godchildren named for him! Joseph is a father to so many generations, who call him "blessed" along with his wife. 

Look to St. Joseph as the Patron Saint of the Unemployed Father

Q: Any other thoughts and reflections about St. Joseph and Advent: 

A: St. Joseph has been a powerful intercessor for my family. I remember receiving my first job out of law school on the 9th day of a St. Joseph Novena that my wife and I prayed together. 

Fathers should always look to St. Joseph for help in financial hardship. 

Here's the video form of a prayer to St. Joseph for aid in unemployment:


St. Joseph, pray for us!

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