With the feast day of Saint Joseph right around the corner — March 19! — my friend Elizabeth Scalia decided to ask me a few questions about this great saint, tied to my book Befriending St. Joseph.
OSV News: Was “Befriending Joseph” born out of a relationship with Joseph, or was a relationship born of the assignment?
Deacon Greg Kandra: I’d been sort of indifferent about St. Joseph. Like many Catholics, I saw him as that plaster figure over on the side altar, and had a hard time thinking about him as anything more than a silent carpenter. But when Ave Maria Press approached me about this book, it was near the end of the Year of St. Joseph, and he’d been getting a lot of attention. That already had me wondering whether there was more to Joseph than I knew, and it helped give the book its shape.
OSV News: What are the seven sorrows of St. Joseph?
Deacon Kandra: Basically, they parallel the seven sorrows of Mary. They’re moments from Joseph’s life in which he experienced great sorrow that was later transformed into joy — wrestling with whether to divorce Mary; seeing Jesus born in poverty; having to flee with his family to Egypt, etc. As for the devotion itself, the story goes that two Franciscans nearly died in a shipwreck and prayed fervently to St. Joseph to rescue them. He appeared to them, guided them to safety and asked them to reflect on the seven sorrows of his life. The Seven Sorrows Devotion is the result. This book is really a new take on that, for a contemporary audience.
OSV News: Silence is always a challenge, right? How did Joseph’s scriptural silence challenge you with this project?
Deacon Kandra: The interesting thing about Joseph is how, in his silence, he shows us who he is. He shows us a type of fidelity, prayerfulness and discipleship just by “doing.” He doesn’t have to say a word — it’s all in the choices he makes and the path he follows, and so much of it is rooted in holy trust. He listened to angels and basically thought, “OK. Whatever you say. I’m on board.” How many of us can do that today? He really was one of the first to “let go and let God,” and his simple faithfulness and obedience models a powerful way of following God’s will.