Monday, March 19, 2012

Silent Influence

Modern Day Joseph
Palestinian Father & Son in Exile
My path had never actually crossed that of a Sister of St. Joesph before I visited the SSJs for a come and see weekend in November of 2009. That's not to say that I didn't know them in some way. I had read Elizabeth Johnson's work in college and had followed the work and writings of Helen Prejean (of Dead Man Walking fame) since I had read her first book and heard her speak at my freshman commencement.

Aside from those two connections, I knew very little about the congregation. I mean, I had gleaned as much as I could from the congregation's website, a Jesuit friend had recommended the SSJs to me, and I had been in touch with the congregation's vocation director after being connected with the Philadelphia SSJs through a Vision Vocation Match (a crazy story in and of it self... see: over a hundred e-mails from different groups over the course of 3 days).   But aside from those points of contact, there were few connections I actually had to the Sisters of St. Joseph.

What I did know, I liked- mission and faith driven women engaged in work that united God and neighbor; Women committed to living the Gospel, making a difference through dedication.  

Perhaps the most familiar part of the entire journey of coming to the Sisters was Saint Joseph.

I had grown up in a parish named after the saint, so I knew plenty of what little is known about him . Having come to associate St. Joseph with work for social concerns and justice that my parish engaged in, I also connected to the model of Joseph as quiet and humble servant. That familiarity is part of what spoke to something deeper within me as I approached the SSJs.

Anyone willing to model their life after the simplicity and fidelity of Joseph had a good word in my book.  To bear the name of Joseph and follow in his footsteps meant for me, to live a life of service that trusts in the will of God and works diligently without the need for words or recognition. 

Relative to so many other saints, Joseph is unknown. Yet, his titles are numerous: father, spouse, guide, teacher, worker, dreamer, righteous man, protector. And as I have come to know him more and these women who live in his example, nurturing Christ and living the Gospel life each day, I have come to recognize that the Joseph that played such a part in forming Jesus, is today working to form me.  

His silent influence is incalculable and insurmountable.  By his example I seek to serve others. Like him, I want to hold Christ in my arms, lead others to God, and find God in the midst of the everyday. I want to follow the call that I have heard even through the darkness and my own sleep.  Ultimately, I want to live like the person who has helped me to recognize God and who's life speaks louder than words.  

For all intents and purposes, Joseph in the Gospels is mute.  No words pass his lips, but somehow his life speaks volumes. It has spoken to my heart and remains a silent influence that draws me forward, out of myself and into the life of God in the world.

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