How My Family Is Celebrating St. Joseph and St. Patrick Together This March

Side-by-side stained glass icons of St. Patrick and St. JosephEvery March, I notice an emergence of leprechauns, shamrocks, and Guinness, followed by an abundance of Italian pastries, lilies, and the color red. The remembrance of St. Joseph follows St. Patrick’s Day on the calendar each year, but too often I have neglected to celebrate them both intentionally. This year, my family has decided to honor the impact of these two heroic saints in a (hopefully) memorable way. 

My wife, Joanna, is always concerned about how we can encourage our young sons to experience the faith in a way that goes beyond attending Mass on Sunday mornings. She is great at finding ways to make being Catholic about celebrating life and having fun doing it. She’ll buy a colorful saints calendar for the kitchen, set up dinner on the floor on Holy Thursday, or dress the kids in colors that align with a specific feast day. Finding ways to infuse the faith into the normal parts of our lives sparked our ideas for how to celebrate St. Patrick and St. Joseph this year. While Joanna’s Italian side gives rise to her proclivity for Joseph, St. Patrick has always been celebrated radically in the Irish Griffin household. 

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St. Patrick receives most of the spotlight out of these two saints, and much of his feast day has been commercialized into drinking and eating corned beef. This year, we plan to eat all of the traditional Irish foods, but also use the shamrock as a way to teach our sons about who God is. 

We plan on going outside and using chalk to outline a huge shamrock in green and have the kids color it in. Then we will focus on how the shamrock points to the fact that God is a relationship of perfect love represented by the three leaves (The Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). While we eat dinner, we will tell the brief story of St. Patrick who helped bring the faith to the people of Ireland even though it was not easy. Then we will talk about how prayer helped him through his trials. 

At bedtime, we will reinforce this and pray one of St. Patrick’s prayers: 

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”

We will end the prayer with the Sign of the Cross, referencing the huge shamrock we colored together as a family. 

Two days later on St. Joseph’s Day, we will enjoy some nice Italian pastries while focusing on an activity that we hope the boys will love. Our kids already have some toy tools. Some of them have worn out their flavor, but we will try to resurrect that by giving them a chance to build something together. As we build something together as a family, we can talk about how Joseph was a carpenter and how Jesus spent so much time building with him. 

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Later in the day, we hope to make a tiny home out of popsicle sticks. All we’ll need is glue, a piece of cardboard to serve as the walls, and about 30 popsicle sticks. By gluing them together to form the structure of a simple five-sided house, we can teach the kids that God calls us all to build time to talk to him in our home every day. 

In many ways, Patrick and Joseph belong together. They were both heroic men of virtue who acted radically for God. Despite the challenges they faced, they trusted that God would protect them, and moved to love those around them as if they were Christ themselves. Highlighting their trust and devotion can only aid the growth of faith among our children. 

Even though these are simple practices, we think they can have an impact because we are using ordinary moments of the day to invite God to speak to us. Whether it is playtime or dinner or bedtime, these can be opportunities for us to bring God to our kids. While some aspects of these activities will, undoubtedly, not go as planned, we hope that they can become habits that we come back to each year so that faith becomes a part of their lives in an organic way. Hopefully, they will even give rise to celebrating other saints in a similar way. Then Patrick and Joseph can truly impact the holiness of our growing family.