Over the summer we were setting up this new blog, and I was working on the Our Patrons tab above.  At first I just put Blessed Pope John Paul II as John Paul's obvious patron, but then it hit me:  he's already starting to adopt other favorite saints and develop a simple devotion to them.  I noted that he loves St. Michael and St. George.  They have swords, of course!  He also loves St. Juan Diego.

So just to confirm, I asked John Paul who his favorite saints were.  He said Michael, George, and Juan Diego, as expected.  Then he surprised me with "St. Joseph."  I asked "why?"  He said, "I ask him to pray for Joseph," in a very duh-Dad-it's-obvious tone of voice.

Joseph is his best little buddy who you've seen in previous posts processing around the yard with John Paul pretending to be altar boys.  Beautiful.  I've always taught my students that a true friend is one who helps lead you to holiness.  Pretty sure Joseph qualifies.

I'll share one other moment regarding this friendship.  This summer we visited the Carmelite Monastery in Littleton.  In the chapel, John Paul wanted to light a candle to represent a prayer intention.  I asked him what his intention was and he said, "For Joseph."  I then helped him say his prayer.  After saying "...help him become...", I expected John Paul to finish the sentence with "...a saint."  But instead. we got this:  "...a strong man who will lay down his life as a priest or a husband."

Before you're too impressed with his theological prowess, no, he didn't come up with that on his own.  It's from a prayer I've been praying with him every night.  "Dear God, thank you for making John Paul a strong boy.  I pray that you help him become a strong man who will lay down his life as a priest or husband."  I got the idea from this blog post by Matt Fradd, in which he encourages parents to "affirm the value of their [kids'] sexuality" even at a young age:
"Sometimes Catholic parents, especially when they themselves were brought up with a standard of chastity that focused on a list of sins and temptations to be avoided, may feel unprepared to provide their kids with an affirmative view of sex and the body.  But raising them to value their sexuality as something good and holy is essential to protecting them from exposure to porn and to inculcating in them a positive desire for purity generally...Even when our children are very young, my wife and I make it a priority to affirm their sexuality daily—teaching them that God created them male or female so that they can become a gift in self-donating love."
Raising kids in this era of mass confusion and outright assaults on authentic masculinity and femininity is challenging.  We must start early in affirming their natural hard-wiring and sense of order.  The first time I prayed that prayer, he asked me to say it again about 7 times, and when I forget, he always reminds me.  He loves it!

And I think it was pretty cool that he was able to apply its message to his prayer for his best little buddy.

St. Joseph and Bl. John Paul II, pray for us.

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