San José padre en la sombra

Posted On 2021-02-01 In Year of St. Joseph

St. Joseph, father in the shadows

SAINT JOSEPH MEN | Miguel Ángel Rubio, Spain

The Joseph Challenge 2021 from, only for men: Men from different vocations in the Covenant of Love, from different countries and generations, are being challenge by Pope Francis’ letter, Patris Corde, about Joseph, “this extraordinary figure, so close to our human condition,” and they share what most impacts and motivates them about the figure of St. Joseph and the Holy Father’s letter about him.  Miguel Ángel Rubio, from Spain, feels a strong bond with St. Joseph, father in the shadows. –

A father who realizes that he is most a father and educator at the point when he becomes “useless”, when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied. When he becomes like Joseph, who always knew that his child was not his own but had merely been entrusted to his care. In the end, this is what Jesus would have us understand when he says: “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Mt 23:9).

I always considered that St. Joseph became a saint as a consequence of circumstances; that is to say, I thought that the Church made him a saint because the Mother of God could not be married to someone of lesser rank and dignity. Talking about the Holy Family, there could not be someone who was not a saint. Because the true father of Jesus is God, since Mary “conceived by the work and grace of the Holy Spirit”. What about St. Joseph? Was he there to make everything “politically correct”? What was his role? God gave us His Son on Earth, but God the Father did not descend with Him, the paternal component was entrusted to St. Joseph, who incarnated Him and accepted Him freely. He is hardly mentioned in the Scriptures: in silence, in the shadows, without any prominence… but he is there; nor has he been ignored or disregarded.

Nihil obstat

Despite the certainty that God is with you, not everything is without difficulties. The first difficulty I had to overcome in order to get married was to obtain the corresponding consent. In normal situations the proposal is a mere formality of the groom before the bride’s parents in a social event.  But in my case it was totally different, first of all, because the proposal was not made before my in-laws (who ultimately had no veto right whatsoever) but before Paz’s daughters. And this was because I was trying to become part of an already consolidated family and I could compromise an already existing balance. Although we both loved each other and we were determined to get married, I asked Paz to ask her daughters how they felt about our marriage project. If they did not give the “nihil obstat” I would not go ahead and our relationship would be terminated. Happily there was “white smoke” and the girls defined me to their mother as “a normal, working man”. The latter both surprised and reassured us.

Saint Joseph, the father who never was

The first year we were married we were living separately: Paz in Madrid and I in Barcelona. At last I got the transfer to Madrid and -finally- we could live together. Then the “real” family life begins, all in the same boat: Paz and I, now with the girls. It was quite a challenge. It was essential for me to be aware of the place I occupy in the “playing field”. I am Paz’s husband, but not the father of her daughters. To claim the latter would have been to usurp someone else’s personality and exercise a right that did not correspond to me. Nor was it about being anyone’s substitute. My role was to be unwaveringly at my wife’s side, so that the girls would perceive that the two of us were a unique and indissoluble team.  Paz faced all of the girls’ adolescence on the “front line”. My job was to observe and support my wife in her opinions, advice and decisions for them. I have to admit that it was not easy and I did not always succeed.

During all this time I have to say that it was St. Joseph who served as a guide for me and I went to him on countless occasions. His attitude in life was for me an invaluable help and I have to recognize that he was my guide to face this stage of my life.

“I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.”

Girls got marry and from their marriages soon came the fruits. I became a grandfather at the age of 46 and so every even numbered year until I had 7 grandchildren. The girls gave me the title of grandfather from the very first moment and they let their children know it. I was not only their mother’s husband but also their grandfather. And they assumed it quite naturally, feeling very proud of it; they boast to the whole world that they have 5 grandparents (4 biological and one “de facto”). This is the paradox (or miracle) of being a grandfather without having been a father.

In this way I found grace before God, who has given me, like Abraham, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands of the seashore. Or at least that’s how I see it.


This testimony is in no way intended to be an example for anyone to follow. My life has been completely anarchic, doing everything at the wrong time, taking risks of incalculable consequences, and all of this forming a cocktail to achieve the most resounding failure. But I do want to express the magnanimous and merciful love that God has had with me, glorifying Himself in circumstances like the ones I have lived through and I have been rewarded a hundredfold.


Original: Spanish 2021-01-21. Translated by María Aragón, Monterrey, México

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