On St. Joseph’s Day – 2022

Saint Joseph, “with the Infant Jesus.” His feast day is coming up on March 19

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This Saturday, March 19, we celebrate the Feast of St Joseph, “earthly” father-figure of the infant Jesus. Two days before that, on Thursday, March 17, we celebrate another saint, St. Patrick, and it seems that a whole lot more people know and celebrate his day, complete with Green Beer.

I wrote about these two saints in 2015’s St. Paddy and St. Joe, and 2016’s St. Joseph and the “Passover Plot.” One cited Apostles, Major Saints and Feast Days, which had St. Joseph third on the list of important figures with Feast days. (Third only to Jesus and Mary.) “St. Patrick on the other hand didn’t even make that list,” but his Feast Day “far overshadows that of ‘St. Joe:’” 

Christian tradition places Joseph as Jesus‘ foster father… Joseph is not mentioned [at] the Wedding at Cana at the beginning of Jesus’ mission, nor at the Passion at the end. If he had been present at the Crucifixion, he would under Jewish custom have been expected to take charge of Jesus’ body, but this role is instead performed by Joseph of Arimathea

Which makes you wonder, “Whatever happened to St. Joseph?” For some possible answers, check out Question of Faith: What happened to St. Joseph – Catholic Telegraph, or – for a lot of Bible passages on the issue – What ever happened to Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather? One thing we do know: Joseph is the patron saint of workers – specifically, carpenters – along with fathers in general and “the dying.” (Those at or approaching death.)

In the meantime, the 2016 post St. Joseph and the “Passover Plot” had a review of the 1965 book by Hugh Schonfield. It’s thesis was that the Crucifixion was part of a “conscious attempt by Jesus to fulfill the Messianic expectations [but] that the plan went unexpectedly wrong.”  

In this version, Jesus planned for His crucifixion by taking a drug that would simulate death. After His unconscious body was placed in the tomb, a religious sect known as the Zealots would secretly steal Christ’s body from the tomb, then spread the rumor that He had risen, thus fulfilling Biblical prophecy. 

Needless to say, the book was controversial, not least of all because in 1976 it was made into a movie. For more see The Passover Plot – Wikipedia, or you can search “passover plot book controversy.” But we’re ranging far afield here, so I’ll just say that for part of my Lenten discipline, I’ll do another post on the book, reviewing it again from a perspective “five years later.”

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Now about St. Patrick. No one can say when he was born, but he is said to have died on March 17, now celebrated as his Feast Day.  In Irish his name would be Padraig, and that’s often shortened to “Paddy.” In turn, it’s seen as a derogatory term for Irish men. See Saint Patrick – Wikipedia, and also The Free Dictionary. That in turn  gave rise to the “Paddy wagon:”

The name came from the New York Draft riots of 1863. The Irish at the time were the poorest people in the city. When the draft was implemented it had a provision for wealthier people to buy a waiver. The Irish rioted, and the term Paddy wagon was coined.

See Urban Dictionary: paddy wagon, about the “police vehicle used to transport prisoners.” But back to St. Patrick. According to legend, he was born in Britain but at 16 captured by Irish pirates. Taken as a slave back to Ireland, he lived there for six years before escaping. He got back to his family, then studied became a cleric, and in the fullness of time returned to Ireland. Legend further says Patrick used the native shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish. 

As to the day, see How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day | TIME:

The [St. Patrick’s day] holiday also spread by becoming a means for all Americans to become Irish for the day. The shared sense of being Irish, of wearing green and in some way marking March 17, has resulted in St. Patrick’s Day being observed in a similar fashion to July Fourth or Halloween. It’s the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.” (E.A.)

Which is a pretty radical idea these days. But anyway, Here’s to You, St. Joseph, patron saint of workers and of the dying. And Here’s to You, St. Patrick, who – among other things – helped save Western Civilization from the barbarians. (See How the Irish Saved Civilization – Wikipedia.) All of which is a good excuse to go drink a tall, frosty mug of Green Beer!

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The upper image is courtesy of Saint Joseph – Wikipedia, which also noted that the “Pauline epistles make no reference to Jesus’ father; nor does the Gospel of Mark.”  The caption for the painting:  “Saint Joseph with the Infant JesusGuido Reni (c. 1635).”

Re: Jesus as first on the list of feast days. The link is to “Christ the King,” at an apparent Catholic website. See also Feast of Christ the King – Wikipedia, about the “feast in the liturgical year which emphasises the true kingship of Christ. The feast is a relatively recent addition to the liturgical calendar, instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” Other churches also observe the feast, though at different times, For example, “In the Church of England, the Feast of Christ the King falls on ‘the Sunday next before Advent,’ when ‘[t]he year that begins with the hope of the coming Messiah ends with the proclamation of his universal sovereignty.'” In the American Episcopal Church, Christ the King Sunday “is unofficially celebrated in some Episcopal parishes, but it is not mentioned in the Episcopal calendar of the church year.”

Re: Joseph as patron saint. See St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Carpenters and Dying and Fathers.

Re: St. Patrick. There’s also the legend he “drove all the snakes out of Ireland.” Some scholars doubt the legend, for reasons including – they say – there were no snakes in Ireland in the first place.

Re: Green beer. The link is to Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day? (See also The story of green beer and St. Patrick’s Day.) Apparently the trend started in the early 1900s:

It is thought that actual green beer got it’s start in the early 1900’s in New York. A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the article, the drink is attributed to Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the green beer effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in his beer.

A couple side notes: One, “they used to call beer that wasn’t fermented long enough, ‘Green Beer’ because it caused stomach issues or as they called it in 1904 ‘biliousness.'” Two, that  wash blue was, “in fact, poison, an iron powder solution used to whiten clothes.” (I think I’ll pass this year.)

Re: Passover Plot. See also The Passover Plot – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Green Beer St Patrick’s Day – Image Results.

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