On March 19, Anna Nuzzo (right) performed her “St. Joseph Consecration Song” at the National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere. Also pictured are Mike Nuzzo (left) and Fr. Donald Calloway. (Submitted photo)
In recent years, a popular image has emerged, represented both by paintings and statuary and shared widely on social media: St. Joseph in the foreground, cradling the newborn Jesus in his arms, while the Blessed Mother sleeps in the background, catching up on some much-needed rest.
It’s a powerful tableau that, on the surface, speaks to the importance of fatherhood, and calls to mind the fact that God chose to give His Son a father figure for his time on earth — though Joseph, unlike Mary, was not biologically necessary for the existence of Christ. But, it also illustrates a role that Joseph — “terror of demons,” “guardian of the redeemer” “patron of the Universal Church” — has long fulfilled, however quietly: steadfast helper of human mothers who are tired, weary or simply afraid.
“The role of a good father is to help, to aid, to assist,” said Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, the author of “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father,” in an interview with the Catholic Herald. “Whatever the Holy Family’s home life looked like, I’m pretty sure that even after a hard day of work, Joseph would have helped around the house. He would have had the honey-do list, whatever that would have looked like for him.”
In his book, which was released by Marian Press in 2020 and has since been printed in 15 languages, Fr. Calloway writes that “now is the time of St. Joseph,” and urges Catholics to consecrate themselves to Christ’s foster father just as so many have done with His Blessed Mother, presenting a 33-day course of spiritual preparation for such a consecration. He told the Catholic Herald that the consecration has had a broad appeal, certainly for men and for young people who are drawn to the witness of St. Joseph, but for women as well.
It was only because St. Joseph was faithful in fulfilling his role that the Blessed Mother was able to fulfill hers, Fr. Calloway said, highlighting the couple’s “complementarity.”
“That’s what a man is supposed to do — he’s supposed to be the other half, doing his part,” he said. “Mary’s feminine heart would have found comfort and security knowing that a man was providing, protecting, loving, sacrificing and working for her. I think that would affect her motherhood, it would affect her femininity.”
Catholic singer-songwriter and Kenosha native Anna Nuzzo recently completed the consecration on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19. The process made her think about St. Joseph and his role in the Holy Family in an entirely new way, she said.
A mother of two sons, Nuzzo had long been devoted to the Blessed Mother, and regards her Marian consecration in 2012 as life-changing. But, in her reading of Fr. Calloway’s book, she was inspired by Joseph’s calm, constant protection of Mary — a protection he also extends to us — and his deference to the will of God when it came to the child he was raising.
“Joseph had the courage to listen to God and trust what he was telling him to do,” she said. “Sometimes we have to be hit over the head with a two-by-four before we realize what we’re supposed to do — and even after that, we have to have the courage and the faith to actually do it. Joseph had that courage.”
St. Paul VI expressed the same sentiments in a 1966 homily, where he said that Joseph “turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home.”
On March 19, Nuzzo performed her “St. Joseph Consecration Song” at the National Shrine of St. Joseph in De Pere, where Fr. Calloway was also in attendance. She was invited to do so by the director of the shrine, Fr. Michael Joseph Brennan, OP — who himself understands well the support that Joseph’s intercession can give to moms.
“When my mom was pregnant with me, she was really, really scared, as young mothers are — I was their first,” said Fr. Brennan. Heeding the words of Pharaoh — “Go to Joseph” — to the people of Egypt amidst a terrible famine, Fr. Brennan’s mother took her worries to someone she felt could understand them: St. Joseph.
“For as long as I could remember, as a little kid, Mom told me how she knew when she was pregnant with me and scared, at some point, in the night she woke up and just knew that everything was going to be OK,” said Fr. Brennan. “She always said that she knew it was Joseph who made sure everything was going to be okay. Forty years later, they named me the rector at the national shrine.”
So mothers, go to Joseph. In your exhaustion and your doubt, go to Joseph; in your uncertainty and in your anxiety, go to Joseph. Go to Joseph in your joy; go to Joseph in your pain. Go to Joseph — during his time on Earth, it was his mission to support a mother in need. It is his mission still.
To view Anna Nuzzo’s St. Joseph Consecration Song, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKjMf34M9O4.