The Episcopal Church honors St. Joseph this Saturday, March 19th. If you want to observe this day at home, you’ll need to plan ahead a bit. Contributor Maria Nolletti Ross provides some background on the saint and an idea for your table.
I have two patron saints: the one for whom I’m named, St. Mary the Virgin, and my birthday patron, St. Francis of Assisi. Right there in between, married to one and venerated by the other, is St. Joseph.
Sidelined and quieted by the gospel writers, enough of his character comes though their words to show a pious man absolutely devoted to his holy family.
Lately, as I continue to open myself up to angelic guidance, I’m encouraged by the passages in which God spoke to Joseph through angelic messengers. I’m inspired that Joseph heeded their guidance without question or doubt. But what I really love about Joseph is how well he parented.
As Jesus grew, Joseph taught him scripture, Jewish piety, carpentry, farming, shepherding, and even politics. We know this because the parables Jesus told during his three-year ministry are grounded in the realness of everyday life.
For example, Joseph was a tekton. Tekton is a common word in ancient Greek which means artisan, carpenter, builder, iron worker, smith, or stone mason. Many believe that Joseph’s area of expertise was carpentry, but he may have been something more like a contractor, knowledgeable in everything needed to create a home. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” – Matthew 7:24.
Each time Jesus spoke about our Father’s love for us, no doubt he remembered the warm embrace of his loving foster father. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: abide in my love.” – John 15:9
St. Joseph’s connection to fatherhood is why his feast day, March 19, is also Father’s Day in Italy. He is the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church.
My admiration of St. Joseph and my excitement upon discovering a list of available foods in first-century Galilee led me to create this recipe for lentil stew loaded with gospel-era vegetarian ingredients. It’s a perfect Lenten meal in which to remember the life of St. Joseph and honor him on his feast day.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup French green lentils (or any type of lentils) rinsed in cold water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
3 or 4 cups butternut squash cut into ½ inch cubes
5 cups fresh or 1/2 cup frozen spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
3 oz goat cheese crumbles
Optional: up to 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar or red wine
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and leeks. Cook until translucent, about three minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, garlic, lentils, salt, pepper, cumin, and thyme.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium-low.
- Add butternut squash.
- Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add spinach, parsley, peas and vinegar, if using. Cook on medium for 30 minutes or so until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese.
- Serve hot along with homemade pita bread.