“Bro, my day sucks.” -- I often hear these words from my students. Of course, the word "suck" is always used by the younger generation to describe something that is bad. And sometimes it is colloquially quite appropriate to say that it sucks to have a bad day, or it sucks to fail, or to be sick. Truly, it is when we vocalize and admit to someone we trust that we are in such a predicament, that the load always seems to be a bit easier to bear.
Saint André Bessette, the humble Holy Cross brother from Canada, probably heard a lot of this from different people bearing different crosses during his years in ministry. He always insisted that the hundreds of miraculous healings that were associated with him were made possible through the intercession of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and the special patron of the brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross. “Ite Ad Joseph” is a ubiquitous phrase at the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, which was built under the direction of Br. André. It is Latin for, “Go to Joseph.” Br. André, at times after using the St. Joseph’s oil, would usually utter these words as a panacea to anyone who seeks healing. With this phrase, he recognized a very strong relationship between a son and a father, and the trust of a wife to a loyal and a hardworking husband.
The gospels describe St. Joseph as a man of compassion and of love. His concern for Mary when she was pregnant was quite admirable, considering he made sure that the mother of the Messiah was not exposed to shame and stoned to death because of her situation. As the foster father of Jesus, this carpenter was a strong pillar in His life, somewhat a physical reminder of simplicity, loyalty, righteousness, and faith that is fueled with love. St. Joseph, as a good foster father and husband, also probably listened to them and comforted them when they went to him for help. These are simple acts of a simple and honorable man, which made St. Joseph one of the great intercessors and the patron of the universal Church.
Ite Ad Joseph. Br. André’s powerful mantra is a beacon of St. Joseph’s simplicity and faith -- a strong reminder that together with the foster father of Jesus we can unburden our troubles and find comfort in God’s everlasting love. As we continue our day-to-day journey, may we go to Joseph to learn, to love and be loved, and to be what we are meant to be as Christians. May St. Joseph’s love and loyalty serve as a paradigm in our daily encounters so that the moment our day begins to "suck" we can simply remind ourselves to “Ite Ad Joseph.”
This reflection on St. Joseph was written by Br. Nich L. Perez, C.S.C., who is a member of the Communications Faculty of Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana. Br. Nich recently professed his Final Vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross.