Caitlin Kennell Kim, seminary grad, baby wrangler, ordinary radical, writes about the life of a convert in the Catholic Church and explores how faith and everyday life intersect.
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St. Joseph, a Screwdriver, and a Small Lenten Miracle
Last Wednesday was the Feast of St. Joseph. Truth be told, St. Joseph is a favorite of mine. As the priest who lovingly shepherded me into the Church is fond of saying, “St. Joseph’s wife was conceived without sin, his adopted son was, well, God … and then there’s good ‘ol Joe.” In the light of the aforementioned company, he seems terribly ordinary. Even unimportant. And this is why I love him.
St. Joseph gets zero spoken lines in the entire Gospel. Zippo. We never hear his voice. He does not get a Magnificat. He is a manual laborer — an “average Joe” with an extraordinary family. He is visited by angelic messengers but only in his dreams and only to receive marching orders from on high. His death comes and goes without mention. He has a supporting role in the narrative of salvation.
This year we marked his feast by papering the fridge with coloring pages of Joseph with the child Jesus perched on his work bench. We made him a small altar in the dining room. My husband had to work late for the second evening in a row and the hours passed rather uneventfully. As I was getting the kids ready for their baths it came to my attention that the door to our son’s room was locked. From the inside. Now, those of you who are acquainted with the ways of 6-year-old boys (and, in particular, 6-year-old boys with a gaggle of little sisters) will know that this is par for the course. I grabbed the penny we keep in the medicine cabinet for just such occasions, slid it into the slot in the center of the knob, and proceeded to turn. I turned and I turned and I turned. There was no click. No resistance. Nada.
One hour, four YouTube videos, a glut of how-to websites, and about a million turns of a flathead screwdriver later, it seemed as though the internal locking mechanism had been broken and that the doorknob would need to come off. I imagined my husband coming home after the kids’ bedtime hungry and burned-out to find 1) a dino-jammied big kid in our bed, 2) a busted doorknob that needed removing before school in the morning, and/or 3) the guts of doorknob (a newly installed doorknob, mind you) removed the mommy way (read: with a hammer and a few unsavory words). I took out the screwdriver, sat on the floor, and turned it in the slot over and over again. Nothing. So I started to pray.
I prayed for St. Joseph’s help. I told him that I knew he was acquainted with the small if not vexing misadventures of family life. I told him that I suspected that he knew very well what it was like to come home from a long day of work tired and hungry and in need of rest and comfort. I told him that if he could ask God to let this lock click and release I’d devote the rest of my Lent to being more like him. That I would try to imitate his humility, his selflessness, his obedience to God, and his devotion to family.
And then it clicked.
Now, I know that an unlocked door knob is hardly an impressive miracle. I doubt people will flock from all across Christendom to touch the doorknob in the little brick house with the peach tree out front. It’s not like we’ve got Lourdes or Fatima at the top of our stairs. Also, I know that it is entirely possible that turning the slot with the screwdriver an almost infinite number of times somehow fixed the lock. But I really do believe St. Joseph interceded for me on his feast day. In a small way. In a way that brought a bit of peace into our house. In a way that helped me deepen my Lenten fast. In a way that was good and quiet and unassuming and holy. Just like good ol’ Joe.
St. Joseph, model of quiet holiness, pray for us!