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In praise of St. Joseph, the Dreamer

 Sean C. Peters, CSJ

St. Joseph, in a brown tunic, is painted from the shoulders up, staring up in the distance in front of a blue background.
by Marion Honors, CSJ | read more about our Sister Artists

Joseph dreamed. What we know of him tells us that he was a simple man, a poor man in a country occupied and controlled by a foreign army. He had little reason to dream, yet he had dreams for himself and for his family. He had the courage to act on those dreams, and his actions made all the difference in the world. His steadfast belief in his dreams and his courage to make his dreams come true led to safety for the Son of God. His dreams led to our salvation.

What do we dream for ourselves and for our world? Perhaps we dream about what we might do to make our local community more life-giving for all those who live and visit there. Do we follow the example of Joseph and take courage to work to make those dreams come true? Or do we let the busyness of daily life, the criticism of others or our own self-doubt sweep away our dreams? How many people I have heard say things like, “Our house would never go for that;” or “Our local community doesn’t do that.” It takes courage to suggest change and face the possible ridicule of others. It takes steadfastness to continue to believe in new possibilities when others tell us they are impossible.

No doubt many of us dream about how we can minister among God’s people in a way that brings all closer to our God. Perhaps we think about ways to help others develop their own special spirituality. Or maybe we think of creative ways to help those we meet who may have poor self-concepts. How can we urge them to believe that a loving God sees them as special and lovable? But to implement such ideas we may have to stretch beyond our present skills. We might have to ask others to assist us or to face those who say, “You try to do too much.” We would need courage to reach out and steadfastness to stay on course in spite of these nay-sayers.

Imagine what courage and steadfastness it took for Joseph to believe that he could safely take his tiny son and his young wife on the long journey to a hostile land. Where would he have learned the skills for such travel? He was a simple carpenter. How would he understand the trails through the desert or know how to find work when he didn’t even speak the language of his new land? Yet Joseph dreamed, and he was willing to ask others for assistance to make his dreams possible and to face with courage those who probably told him that such a journey was impossible.

Think of many other areas where we have dreams for ourselves, our friends, our family, our world. Certainly, the dream of a world that responds to the urgent threat of climate change haunts us. Let us take some time during this month that celebrates Joseph and see if we are following the example of the saint whose name we bear. Are we willing to attend to our deepest dreams and then take the courage we need to make those dreams come true? Can we lean on our God and remain steadfast to these deepest yearnings, even in the face of those who scoff at our dreams and tell us to forget them?

As we celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, let us praise Joseph the Dreamer. Let us, too, rejoice in the dreams that we all have for a better world and support one another as we work to make these dreams come true. As Madeleva Williams, CSJ says in her lovely poster, “Joseph had dreams. They weren’t always clear nor easy but they were his. Eventually, they changed his mind and heart.” May our best dreams do the same for us.

Category: Reflections, Stories

3 thoughts on “In praise of St. Joseph, the Dreamer”

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    Thank you for the very meaningful and motivating article on St. Joseph and our dreams that I just read via Facebook. I found it stirring and hope-giving.

    I dream that women religious will be pioneers once again in addressing and eliminating ageism, the last socially accepted prejudice, one that we internalize – to our detriment and everyone else’s – at such a young age.

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    Thank you Sean for your reflection, I dream for a time when we can work together again for the greater good. Let us keep imagining new ways and new possibilities.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you for that inspiring and challenging reflection. May we the women religious dream for a better society and may we join hands with all people of good will to make our dreams come true. Blessed Feast of Saint Joseph🙏

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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