Students at St. Bernard Middle School held their annual blessing of the St. Joseph’s Table. The ceremony is normally held on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, but since that falls during spring break this year, the event was celebrated one week before. The blessing was given by school president, Father Joel Martin who described St. Joseph as a righteous man.
Father Joel asked the students to learn from St. Joseph, who lovingly accepted Mary as his wife after Mary said “yes” to God, making possible the birth of Jesus, God among us.
By imitating Joseph and Mary, the students responded to God with their own generosity by donating food items for those in need, showing God’s love. Father Joel blessed the food offered for the poor, and also blessed the students who make God present in the lives of others.
The St. Joseph Altar or St. Joseph Table is an old tradition from Sicily. During the Middle Ages, a draught threatened to bring about a severe famine. The dried out wheat stalks cracked beneath the feet of the poor farmers as they walked through their barren fields. Only a sea of dust and withered vines remained from what had once been row upon row of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
And so the people prayed. They especially called on St. Joseph, considered their patron, to intercede for them, pleading for relief from the famine that gripped the island. At last the skies opened, sending down the life-giving water. The people rejoiced. Some time later, to show their gratitude, they prepared a table in honor of St. Joseph; it held a special assortment of foods they had harvested, which were then distributed to the less fortunate.
Though Sicilian immigrants introduced the custom to America, the celebration is not confined to any nationality. Rather, it has become a public event which its devoted participants embrace for a host of private and personal reasons. The feast is alternately a source of petition, thanksgiving and love.
St. Bernard students collected more than 300 canned food items which will be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Cullman.