Today’s title for St. Joseph, “Comforter of the Afflicted,” is again a pretty poor translation from the Latin original. Solatium Miserorum means “solace for those in misery.” Let’s take both words in Latin.
1) “Solace” doesn’t just alleviate pain, as in “comfort.” Solace gives strength to bear the momentary affliction; solace helps us transform the misery into glory. Solace is something an encouraging father gives his children when they think they have run out of gas. A discouraged employee finds new strength in the reassuring words of a good supervisor; a disheartened athlete finds potency in the inspiring words of a good coach. St. Joseph is that good father to us, spurring us on rather than simply “comforting us.”
2) “Misery” is much more serious than mere “affliction.” We are all going to have miserable moments in the valley of tears. The secular world tells us that only losers suffer but Christians know that misery is inevitable this side of the grave. “Loved ones die, children rebel, and gravity will eventually take away your youthfulness, making you old and immobile,” Fr. Calloway writes. That last one (“hateful old age” in the words of Homer) is especially feared and hated by pagan cultures that expect nothing beyond death. Run to Joseph when you are in misery. He will not remove your misery, but he will give fatherly solace, helping you turn misery into glory and triumph, in Christ Jesus.