Today is the feast of Joseph. It is also the day that Italy surpassed China in the number of COVID-19-related deaths. Still, we celebrated Saint Joseph, as best we could, with pasta and bread crumbs approximating the sawdust at the feet of a carpenter.
My paternal grandparents were from China. Poor (and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall?), they left far before even my father was born and before the revolution. We have no known ancestry from Italy. Still, “celebrate everything,” as our pastor instructs. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of Italy and my husband’s confirmation saint. As a father and husband, he has a particular devotion to this quietest of biblical figures.
This morning, I dared to venture out to the grocery store for provisions for my parents including ingredients for a linguine dish on the recommendation of my mother’s Sicilian friend. By default, all Catholics are some sort of honorary Italian. After Mr 2yo fell into his afternoon nap, I beat eggs and sugar and flour into a warm, shiny submission on the stove top. The girls injected pastry cream into these puffs of baked dough to form zepolle de San Giuseppe (aka much less romantic sounding “cream puffs”). Were our Italian counterparts doing the same from their confines of their homes and to prepare their altars to Saint Joseph, loaded with treats and sweets that would not be shared in the way that they were meant to be?
This time last year, we made cream puffs and rice fritters for a Saint Joseph altar to share with our small community of faithful at our daily mass. But this year? Verboten. (Pray, you’ll pardon me for mixing cultures in these trying times.)
We had let Saint Patrick’s day slide by with nary a “pray for us” in spite of the fact that we are Irish “on both sides”. Like many of these days, this Irish feast slipped by us before we could catch it with a shot of Jameson or a pint of Guinness. We now know that these days call for preparation and forethought but we hadn’t yet learned that lesson before March 17. Before March 17, we still thought that we could run out to grab a corned beef and a trip to the beer and wine store (this is still Montgomery County, after all) wouldn’t mean quite as much hand sanitizer.
Saint Joseph. Pray for us!