June 11, 2021

Serra Club Vocations Essay

St. Joseph provides an example of how to follow Godís call with courage

By Allie Vanderpool (Special to The Criterion)

Allie Vanderpool“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” These lyrics of a hymn by Dan Schutte echo the life of St. Joseph. His willingness to answer a call from God is the footprint of his entire life.

On Dec. 8, 1870, Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph a patron of the universal Church. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of that declaration, Pope Francis, on Dec. 8, 2020, wrote the apostolic letter “Patris Corde,” which translates as “With a Father’s Heart.”

He declared this year as a Year of St. Joseph. Pope Francis in his letter shared with us some of his own reflections on the life of St. Joseph. He urged us to allow Joseph to be our inspiration, and to follow his footprints in our own answer to God’s call to holiness to each of us.

Joseph was an accepting servant. When asked to take Mary as his wife, Joseph accepted all the unusual circumstances and said yes to God’s call. Joseph not only accepted God’s call, he accepted the will of the Father.

Pope Francis shares with us another attribute of Joseph when he reminds us that Joseph was not just an accepting servant, but he was a “creatively courageous servant.”

Thinking of the night in Bethlehem when there was no room for Joseph, his wife and child, Joseph created a place for them. He cared for them in a creative way. Joseph was willing to follow the call of the Father even when difficulties came his way.

Joseph was a silent servant, as Pope Francis wrote, that he “played an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

The inspiration of St. Joseph for each of us is to first accept our call. When Jesus calls us, we must be willing to say yes. Often when things become difficult, we refuse to accept our path. We grow angry and question God.

We must choose to be more like Joseph. We must learn to accept our path unconditionally, even if it doesn’t make sense. When difficulties face us, we need to be courageous.

Choosing to give up is not accepting the call of Jesus. Like Joseph, we need to rely on the resources God has given us and find a way to continue on our journey to holiness and not forsake our calling.

Perhaps in today’s world the most important way we can say yes to God is in a quiet, humble way. The world is filled with everyone seeking stardom or to be recognized. Joseph reminds us that we can make a difference from the shadows.

We can make a difference every day in our families, in our schools and in our communities. Joseph led the quiet life of a carpenter, serving others and answering God’s call.

At the end of each day, and at the end of our lives, the real question is, “Did we hear Jesus calling and, more importantly, did we answer, ‘I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.’ ”

(Allie and her parents, Tyler and Molly Vanderpool, are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Richmond. She recently completed the eighth grade at Seton Catholic High School in Richmond and is the eighth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2021 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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