Growing up, my family lived two blocks from our church, and we would often walk to and from Mass together. Then, for my favorite school grade, fifth, it was exciting to attend the middle school that was located on the third floor of the old brick building. Both the church and school were named after St. Joseph. Unfortunately, the old building was condemned and the spot where the church and school once stood is now covered with new high-rise apartments.

In spite of the building’s removal, memories of those formative years have long stayed with me. I had always felt a connection to the Holy Family, not only because my elementary school was called Holy Family Elementary, but also because I admired the closeness of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus when I learned about them during my faith formation. Having come from what was, in my hometown, deemed a large family (there were six of us), I wondered what it might be like to have a smaller family like Jesus did. The experience of being the only child in a family seemed so foreign to my own, since I had an older brother, a twin brother, and a little brother. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day, my own family would mirror the Holy Family due to secondary infertility.

As a child, I was especially intrigued by the seemingly silent figure of St. Joseph, and I still am today. When I moved as a young adult, I attended St. Joseph the Worker Church, and I began to reflect on the work Joseph did in raising Jesus with Mary, how his actions spoke louder than his words through his steadfast and consistent presence to his family, how he provided for his family, and his steadfast devotion to being a father to Jesus in his silent way of doing things.

My husband Adam (who can be silent at times due to his more introverted nature) and I married in that same church from my young adult years. Traditionally, within a Catholic wedding ceremony, it is customary for the bride, who is soon to become spouse, to offer a bouquet of flowers to Mary to obtain her intercession for a fruitful spousal love. Rather than presenting flowers to Mary during our wedding, my husband and I made the decision instead to place flowers in front of a statue of the Holy Family. From the start of our marriage, we intentionally chose to focus on the Holy Family as we sought to center our marriage on Christ and to embrace the work that goes into this consecration.

Over these last nearly nine years of marriage, we have had many opportunities to practice letting go of control…such as letting go of the idea of having multiple children.

It has taken work to come to a place of acceptance and healing.

It has taken tears of frustration.

It has taken feelings of wondering why things are the way they are and feelings of ultimately surrendering and resting in the knowledge that God has a plan. He was working on how the story would unfold long before Adam and I knew we would be characters in one another’s stories.

I’m sure St. Joseph also did not expect his life to unfold in the way that it did. Yet, we know he was docile, humble, and eventually accepted what was given to him. means to be teachable. Every day of walking this path of infertility provides each of us the chance to be taught something or, to perhaps, teach others through how we carry our crosses. St. Joseph worked with what and whom he had been given in a peaceful sort of surrender. May we strive to follow his way of obedience.

When I reflect on the below lines from a prayer that invokes St. Joseph’s intercession, I’m inspired to think of how I can die to self a bit more and rest in that true spirit of surrender in matters of infertility and in other areas of life. St. Joseph, long considered the patron saint of departing souls, can perhaps also assist with this different type of surrender, as we seek to increase in our ability to die to self. May we all relinquish control in holding on so tightly to preconceived ideas of what we thought our families might look like or in how we anticipated our marriages would bear fruit. In our daily interactions, may we seek out ways we can stand strong, like St. Joseph, in steadfast surrender.

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong, before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. O that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.

Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Megan Reister, wife to Adam and mother of one young daughter named Charlotte, loves peanut butter and chocolate combinations, puppies, and her home state of Pennsylvania. Now an Ohio resident, she is a teacher who enjoys working at a Catholic university and helping preservice teachers become advocates for the children they will serve in their vocations. Spiritual motherhood has always had a place in Meg’s heart, and even more so as she and her husband face secondary infertility. You can read more from Meg on her personal blog.