Paul Moore: Now is always the time of St. Joseph and his silent support
In My Father’s House / By Paul Thomas Moore
My ears pricked up at the sound of my name.
“Did you hear that, Paul? “‘Now is the time of St. Joseph,’” said our parish director of faith formation, Ileen Grebner. I’d been half-listening while gazing out the window. Now a memory flashed of long-ago teachers calling me out of my reverie.
Ileen had been echoing a theme emphasized by Deacon Kevin Zeeb and Rick Barbour of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton in their presentation at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Germantown Hills on March 13.
I realized later Ileen was actually addressing another Paul in her line of sight, but no matter; however God called me back to attention, it “resonated.” The session was titled “The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,” and it was a wonder to me that I was there at all. An hour before I’d been at home in my sweats, exercising as I watched online. Then the internet link went wonky, so I first hopped in the shower, then in the car, and made my way to the church hall.
THE OIL OF ST. JOSEPH
I wanted to hear more about the wonders of St. Joseph, based on the book by Father Don Calloway (consecrationtostjoseph.org). I also wanted something more.
Just before the internet conked out, Deacon Zeeb had mentioned that at the end of the morning, he would bless all who wished with the oil of St. Joseph from St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. In consideration of COVID, he would let oil droplets fall into our hands, and we would cross ourselves.
My wife Mary Louise has been to St. Joseph’s Oratory, and my late father, Thomas Joseph Moore Jr., visited as a young man. He beheld a wonderful vision that stayed in his mind’s eye as long as he lived (and he wasn’t normally a visionary type of guy). Dad wasn’t clear whether he saw a single figure or more by the altar, but he knew the scene wasn’t of this world. He didn’t convey the sense that he found the vision spooky or threatening, just an ordinary sort of miracle.
I don’t know if Dad was blessed with the oil of St. Joseph while at the Oratory, but it’s possible. The devotion, popularized by “the doorkeeper saint,” André Bessette, utilizes oil from a font in front of a statue of St. Joseph at the Oratory. Brother André encouraged the sick to rub it into their skin and to pray to St. Joseph for relief — not as a magical elixir, but as a gesture of faith.
PROTECTIVE PRESENCE YEARS LATER?
If Dad did receive the oil during that visit, perhaps St. Joseph’s healing intercession was invoked at a critical juncture many years later, though when that miracle occurred, the specter of tragedy was also involved.
At age 41, Dad was taking his parents and three of my younger siblings on a country drive when another car approached in his lane. He assumed it would eventually turn . . . but it didn’t. A horrific crash ensued, claiming the life of his father (my grandfather), Thomas Joseph Moore Sr.
Shortly before the crash, my youngest brother Pat had been transferred from Grandpa’s knee in the front seat, to the back with Grandma and two of my other brothers, all of whom suffered minor injuries.
Dad’s injuries were extensive, and included a shattered hip, broken ribs, and a punctured lung. His life was saved by the blessed presence of a former U.S. Marine, who had been traveling in the car behind and performed CPR.
The Bible says of Jesus that he spoke like no other. But St. Joseph, who spoke not a recorded word, surely, he listened like no other. I believe his silent support was there for my father and our family in the still of the Oratory chapel, and on that sleepy country road.
In commemoration of these blessings, I received the oil again. Now is always the time of St. Joseph.
PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.