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ST. JOSEPH

It was St. Joseph's Feast Day, 1904, and there was almost nothing to eat in an orphanage run by the Congregation of the Holy Rosary in Bethlehem. The nuns made a novena to St. Joseph. The ninth day had come but the cupboard was still bare. Mother Mary Alphonsus, the humble instrument and chief helper of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, urged all to trust in God: "St. Joseph will not fail us."

That same rain-drenched night there was a gentle knock and the Sisters hurried to open the door. To their surprise a stranger stood on the threshold with a heavy load upon his back. "This is for your orphans," he said, as they asked him to come in and relieved him of his load. It was an abaije (a Bedouin cloak) full of fruit and vegetables. And the marvel was that the vegetables and the abaije, as also his kumbas (the long garment worn by the Arabs), were in no way wet with the rain, while the Sisters who had just been that short time at the door, were drenched. The Sisters began to ply him with questions. "Who are you? Who sent you?"

To all these questions he replied evasively that he did not know. The children were struck with wonder on seeing the fruit and vegetables. They seized hold of the load and helped the Sisters carry the precious burden to the kitchen. When they had unpacked it all, one of the Sisters folded the abaije. She was then struck by the beauty of the material. It was new, not creased in the least, and of a beautiful golden hue. To her mind it was a pity it should have been put to such a use. Yet the abaije was in no way soiled, for all the fruit and vegetables were spotlessly clean.

Mother Mary Alphonsus meanwhile had stayed with the stranger, but no words had passed between them. She was struck by the appearance of the tall, thin man with the kindly features. His skin was fresh and white, the neat blue-striped kumbas was fastened around the waist with a light blue belt. After a little while the other Sister came with the folded abaije and returned it to the stranger. However, he did not put it on, as one would have expected, considering how hard it was raining, but carried it over his arm. When asked if there was anything to pay, he replied, "Nothing." He gave a friendly nod to the Sisters and children, and then disappeared into the rain. The minute the door was shut, the two nuns looked at one another and said together: "That was St. Joseph!"

(-Abstracted by Tony Jaskot from the book, A Handmaid of the Holy Rosary: Sister Mary Alphonsus of the Rosary, by Father Benedict Stolz, O.S.B.).

Keep us in mind, Blessed Joseph, and intercede for us in the presence of your Son. Bid Blessed Mary, your Spouse, to look graciously upon us - She who is the Mother of Jesus, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives enthroned forever. Amen.