I was in the post office buying stamps for my Christmas Cards several weeks ago and I got the appropriately religious ones which featured a picture of the Madonna and child. As I reflected on that lovely image, I could not help but think to myself: "poor Joseph, he always gets left out of the picture." Ever since I was a fourteen year old freshman at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, N.Y., under the watchful care of the Holy Cross Brothers, to my current assignment as Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, St. Joseph has been an important part of my spiritual life. Joseph's quiet and unassuming, yet firm and faithful manner has always spoken to me. In many ways I don't think he minds being left out of the picture and would prefer Mary and Jesus getting all the attention.
In many ways the brothers taught me much about St. Joseph both in their instruction but also in the way they lived their religious life. They too were intensely dedicated to the Lord and to their vocation, yet they went about their ministry in a very unassuming way. They never considered their intense dedication to us as special or extraordinary, but simply what they were called to do. They never made a big deal about coming in early to lead a review session or staying late to offer some one-on-one help, it was simply what they did and it is how they desired to serve.
As we celebrate the Feast of St. André, who himself was extremely dedicated to St. Joseph, I am reminded of what an important example that both St. André and St. Joseph are to not only us in Holy Cross, but the church universal. Both were intensely dedicated to the Lord and their zeal gave them a firm resolve to do what the Lord asked of them. Yet both also knew that it was the Lord who blessed them with their gifts and none other. Their meek and humble origins aided them in their humility, knowing that their lives were to lead others to Christ.
There is much for us to take from the lives of St. André and St. Joseph. There is something attractive about the simple sense of vocation that they had which continues to inspire our Holy Cross Brothers. So often even service can be used as a means to attract attention to ourselves or with an eye on our own benefit and notoriety. The example of St. Joseph and the Holy Cross Brothers, who hold him as a special patron, especially St. André reminds us all that it is often in those quiet moments of service that go by without notice or acclaim that we are brought closer to the Lord. We, like St. Joseph and St. André, use the blessings the Lord has given us in complete service, giving Him all the honor and glory.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. Learn more about Holy Cross parish ministry here.