September 2017 Saint Joseph of Cupertino

St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663) Images from Catholic Online
Feast Day is celebrated September 18.  In Osimo, Italy, each year his coffin is carried in a procession through town. 

Canonized in 1767, by Pope Clement XIII. 

Patron Saint of: Aviators, flying, students, studying and intellectual disability.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, grew up impoverished in a single parent home, his Father died just before he was born. As we know with children today that are underfed they often develop slower, in addition with struggles maintaining focus. Those struggles, are not unlike the childhood of Saint Joseph of Cupertino. 

At the age of fourteen he tried to the Franciscans, but two of his uncles who were there said he was too ignorant. Resulting in Saint Joseph being denied entry. Saint Joseph then, tried to learn shoe making, with no success. He was accepted in 1620, to the Capuchin Order, but only lasting eight months, because his absentmindedness and fits of fancy were seen as a distraction.

Finally, he was admitted to the Friars Minor of the Conventuals. These Franciscan Conventuals remained a part of the Rule of Saint Francis, but choosing instead of living as hermits, they chose to live in friaries and worked among the urban poor. They met Saint Joseph where he was, by giving him a simple task, this task was to take care of one mule. The mule lived and he eventually became a cleric in 1625, later becoming a priest in 1628. 

However, as a priest, he was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly, because of his fits of ecstasy and levitation. “The Flying Saint” as Saint Joseph is known, was known to levitate during sacred reading and self mortification. He levitated into candles during Christmas Mass and even took flight in front of Pope Urban VIII. There are many documented occurrences of St Joseph’s levitation, even said to have traveled as much as 15 yards. 

In too many instances in some of our own lives, like Saint Joseph of Cupertino might have been told we cannot do something, for some reason or another. Though Saint Joseph had many practices that we today might seem as extreme, to have such divine experiences. Today we have other ways to help us find our divine connection, such as meditation, long hikes, yoga or something that can cause discomfort enough to move us beyond our conscious thinking, without the intensity of self penance he practiced.

Early in his life, Saint Joseph was cast out from the very people whom he felt he should be a part of. Instead of allowing himself to be defeated, he developed personal practices of devotion, in the ways that he felt connected and identified as spiritual. All of this is all said to attribute to his experiences that were said to have been holy.

It is humility to follow our faith and to do so, even when others tell us we are not worthy. This is often when we are the most vulnerable and open to inner growth. Perhaps Saint Joseph was able to be open to such divine encounters, because he was born and raised in discomfort. Instead of allowing himself to be defeated, he created his own devotion, while continuing to attempt to connect within a religious order. As with Jesus who went to those that were cast out of society, because those on the margins are often uncomfortable in ways to enable to experience the mercy that God freely offers. An uncomfortable social outcast is just what the life of Saint Joseph of Cupertino held.

The story of Saint Joseph of Cupertino reminds me of the quote I have heard many times, but do not know the originator, “God prepares the called, he does not call the prepared.” So often we do not understand when we are doing something that is to enliven our inner lives, connecting us to our divine possibilities. If we are lucky like Saint Joseph of Cupertino, we will even be able to offer opportunities of sharing the miracles that can come with a divine devotion without expectations. 

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