This Father’s Day, we give thanks for all men whose fatherhood is expressed through their love and sacrifice for others, not only as physical fathers but also through spiritual fatherhood. Today we offer a poignant final reflection, A Deacon’s Take, from Father Deacon Paul Warchola West on St. Joseph, model for all men experiencing infertility and loss. St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Joseph: the carpenter; “Mr. Fix-it”; the repair man. As a tradesman, and as a man, it is almost certain that St. Joseph would take it upon himself to fix any problem that crossed his path. Even when he is presented with the seeming “problem” of Mary’s divulging that she is with child, St. Joseph strives to fix the problem in a very noble manner rather than causing a spectacle. However, Joseph is called not to “fix the problem,” but rather to face it head on simply by staying by Mary’s side, having been informed that what is occurring is part of God’s greater plan for the salvation of humanity (Mt 1:19-25).
As men, our go-to response is to fix things, it’s what we do. Whatever its root cause may be, the pain and struggle of infertility affects both husband and wife equally. As men, as husbands, the last thing we want to see is our spouse suffering. The pains of infertility can run deep, and it may seem that at times there is little we can do to “fix” or ease this burden. Perhaps the action that is required is not doing something, but rather simply being.
St. Paul tells us husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). St. Joseph, the Protector of the Universal Church, was charged with protecting Mary, the living Ark, by standing by her side and not abandoning her in her time of vulnerability. As Christ protects His Church through His love, we, as husbands, are charged to do the same through the love of our spouse, our matrimonial bond being the embodiment of this protective love. We should not feel compelled to “fix” anything. Rather, we must simply be there for our wives as a shoulder on which she may place her head. Just as St. Joseph did for Mary, we must simply walk with our wives, side by side, one step at a time as we carry out God’s plan for us all.