“Often a father believes that being married and having children hinders him, if it does not altogether disqualify him, from achieving great sanctity.” To dispel this incorrect notion, Devin Schadt, in his book, Joseph’s Way, the Call to Fatherly Greatness, lays out practical ways for fathers to become saints within the day-to-day life of the family.
This eighty-day devotional walks through the life of St. Joseph in light of the patriarchs of the Old Testament, specifically Abraham and Jacob. Each day’s short reflections provides the reader with ample material to meditate upon in prayer.
The book contains two major sections, the Prayer of Faith, and the Prayer of Hope. The Prayer of Faith consists of three components, silence, obedience, and sacrifice. Likewise, the Prayer of Hope also has three main components, humility, wrestling with God, and establishing the domestic church.
Each section builds upon lessons learned in the previous section. For example, first we learn how silence is necessary for a man to hear God’s voice in prayer. Then we learn that a man cannot just simply listen to God in prayer, he needs to obey the instructions that he hears, which often requires him to make sacrifices.
The book contains deep insight and wisdom for fathers as well as some discussion of Theology of the Body. I will just mention a few examples.
“The vocation of fatherhood has been created by God in such a way that it acts as a fire, which burns away the desire to be noticed, while purifying the sincere underlying desire to be authentically known.” (Day 12)
“When a husband encounters a particular crisis, particularly within his marriage, his faith is tested and he is afforded an opportunity to discover or rediscover his true essence, which is to become a man who sacrifices himself on behalf of his wife and God. (Day 31)
Throughout the book, I gained a greater insight into the virtues of St. Joseph and the patriarchs as well as the many parallels between them. Not only did I learn a lot about some great men of the Bible, but I learned practical ways that I could imitate their example. In particular, the discussion of Jacob’s mistakes, and his growth in overcoming them to become a man of character were helpful to me.
Often, we can think that the only men called to be saints are priests and religious. Yet, the book Joseph’s Way, reminds us that as fathers and protectors of our families, we have a vocation too! To lead our wives and children in holiness and build up the domestic Church is a sincere task, not for the faint of heart. As fathers, we must embrace the call to hidden service of our families, just as St. Joseph did, so that we can become the saints of the 21st century.