In 2015, during his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis popularized the image of Saint Joseph, lying on his side, fast asleep. “I like Saint Joseph very much. He’s a strong man of silence. On my desk, I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he looks after the Church. Yes! We know that he can do that,” Pope Francis said in the Philippines on January 16, 2015. “So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note, and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words, I tell him: Pray for this problem!” he added.
In the Gospel of Matthew, God speaks to Saint Joseph in four dreams. In the first dream, Joseph is told to continue with his plan to marry Saint Mary after he learns she has become pregnant with Jesus. Putting his faith in God, Joseph took Mary as his wife.
After the birth of Jesus, in a second dream Joseph is warned to flee with his family to Egypt. He took mother and baby on a perilous journey to an unknown country. Anyone who has ever been forced to move to somewhere unknown understands something of the anxiety that Joseph must have felt. But Joseph went because God had commanded him.
In a third dream, Joseph is told to return to Israel, and then in a fourth dream he is told to go to Galilee instead of Judea.
Pope Francis has said that the way Saint Joseph responded to these dreams — by rising and doing as God had asked — shows that he was a man who was willing to do the will of God immediately: “Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.”
Our parish has two statues of Sleeping Saint Joseph. One has been installed on a landscaped pedestal in the Holy Family Picnic Area. The second will be placed inside the Mission Blvd entrance to our church as part of the church renovation. Both statues are the largest of their kind in the United States and were funded by generous donations.
Together with our Mission church, which was named in honor of Saint Joseph (“La Mision del Gloriosisimo Patriarch San Jose”) in 1797, and our Saint Joseph shrine near St Joseph Terrace and Mission Blvd, the new statues of Sleeping Saint Joseph establish our parish as a devotional destination for our patron saint. Saint Joseph is also the patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers and working people, among others.
A Prayer to Sleeping Saint Joseph
O Saint Joseph, you are a man greatly favored by the Most High. The angel of the Lord appeared to you in dreams, while you slept, to warn you and guide you as you cared for the Holy Family. You were both silent and strong, a loyal and courageous protector.
Dear Saint Joseph, as you rest in the Lord, confident of his absolute power and goodness, look upon me. Please take my need (mention your request) into your heart, dream of it, and present it to your Son. Help me then, good Saint Joseph, to hear the voice of God, to arise, and act with love. I praise and thank God with joy. Saint Joseph, I love you. Amen.