by Josel Gaston
“Remember: What dad really wants is a nap. Really.” -Dave Barry, humorist
I imagine that when the Pope gets tired, he gets REALLY tired. As in I-need-a-longer-nap kind of tired. The kind of nap that would set off burglar alarms from the epic snoring one would unconsciously perform.
Ok, that was just me trying to project my exhaustion to one of the most-loved persons on this earth and successor of Peter at that. What can I say - I’m an exhausted dad.
But that’s not what this is about.
One particular speech he gave in the Mall of Asia Arena got me really excited and calmed me at the same time: when Pope Francis talked about his favorite statue of a napping St Joseph. Now that’s an image I had never ever seen.
He told everyone that if he had an important decision to make and a prayer request to send to heaven, he would write it down on a piece of paper, fold it, and tuck it underneath the sleeping statue of St Joseph and his prayers would all be answered!
Wow! The techie in me had to look for a Google image of what the Pope was talking about and it was indeed a statue of a serene and fast asleep St Joseph on one of the Pontiff’s desks in the Vatican.
True enough, a few minutes after Lolo Kiko talked about his devotion to St Joseph, the image of the sleeping St Joseph was trending! Imagine the prospect of having an anxiety-free good night’s sleep to take out the stresses and worries of work-life and have your prayers answered whilst you galavant in dream land. I had to get me one of those!
I have to admit, I saw the statue as somewhat of a talisman that would magically solve all my problems and worries. Like an ‘anting-anting’ that can make me invincible, wise, and brave… and most all whilst I sleep!
Like a petulant child, I was madly searching for that new powerful action figure-like toy character The Sleeping St Joseph (*batteries not included)!
When the haze of excitement subsided, I realized that it was essentially the Pope’s unflinching faith in St Joseph that made his prayers powerful.
I asked myself: How do I see St Joseph beyond what scant information we know of him?
I imagined what the silent St Joseph was like as a person, a husband, and a father. I realized that Joseph’s strength was deeply rooted in his mindful approach in dealing with life.
My idea of a life lived in mindfulness is described as seen from the prism of time and space and it’s simply being in the here and now. On the other hand, the unshakeable nature of St Joseph’s faith was grounded on his attention to what God needed him to do at the ever present moments.
He followed and exemplified his wife’s obedience to the will of heaven. His mindfulness complemented his faith. Obeying God without the tentativeness of an over-thinking corporate executive made him decide fast and move efficiently to bring Mary and Jesus to safety and away from the murderous platoons of Herod.
I imagined how he outsmarted them and cleverly avoided their traps. Joseph did not have the benefit of technology to monitor the weather, set their destination a la Waze app in escaping to Egypt and heading back home years after to settle in Nazareth. Mary and the boy Jesus slept under the protection of Joseph! That alone amazes me to no end.
His silence was as if Ninja-like. He would get the job done. Add to that the responsibility of being the quiet strength in guiding and protecting God’s only son from youth to adulthood to even the pain of knowing Jesus would die a gruesome death.
Had he been alive to witness his beloved son’s execution, he would have faced it with agonizing pain but with the victorious resolve that his faith will be beneficial to mankind’s history henceforth.
Speech is indeed silver but silence is gold. Again, his mindfulness comes into play as his listening skills were beyond compare. He listened intently to God’s commands and kept his silence as if to illustrate the fact that eloquence is reduced to trivial capriciousness in the midst of God’s unfolding plans.
Joseph was all about mindfulness and faith even before the practice of mindfulness was fashionable. His faith was rock solid even amidst the ebb and flow of uncertainty and fear.
It is no surprise and wonder that he slept like a baby and napped regularly as if on schedule to attend his catch-up sessions with God and his angels. How would you feel if you knew that when you sleep, your stress and anxiety would be gone upon waking?
Joseph rests (and sleeps) in the mindfulness and great faith that God’s coaching moments will help you solve the essential issues and grant you courage and wisdom to face the next.
We’ve had the sleeping St Joseph on the family altar for 6 years now. With a bunch of folded letters underneath it. The bunches are quite thick that St Joseph is elevated almost half an inch higher.
But I now know that it was Joseph’s quiet yet strong character rooted in faith and obedience that makes all the difference. Not the sleeping statue per se.
Thanks to Pope Francis for the practical tip in going to Joseph (Ite ad Ioseph) with the deep faith of being able to find solutions to problems both in waking prayer and whilst we enjoy the gift of sound and restful sleep.
Am I tired as of this writing? You bet I am. And I’m turning in to hit the sack resting in the faith that this reflection about Joseph makes all the difference in my waking and snoozing life.
So to all dad’s who are stressed, anxious, and need to keep it together, my simple advice: Ite ad Ioseph! Go to Joseph!
Happy Father’s Day, dads!