Although there are no words accorded to the Saint in Scripture, it is clear, Brian Peachey says, that St Joseph knew what it was like to battle for his family.
The neglected saint takes up a sizable chunk of the second and revised edition of Mr Peachey’s The Gift of the Rosary booklet, which was released in Perth late last month.
The booklet has received some valuable additions since it was first printed in 2000, not least of which is the Peachey-penned St Joseph Mysteries.
St Joseph is someone who has looked out for Mr Peachey his whole life, the 83-year-old Woodlands man told The Record, helping him through his lowest ebbs.
It was during one of those dark periods that Mr Peachey first felt an affinity and connection to the Saint.
Back in 1956, the then-27-year-old had just been taken to the figurative financial cleaners, losing his successful record store business in the Royal Arcade, opposite the Perth Town Hall.
In somewhat acrimonious circumstances, the lessor used an obscure clause in their agreement to cancel the lease.
Left with no means of earning, he only narrowly managed to avoid bankruptcy, losing two blocks of land and several expensive insurance policies.
It was around then that Mr Peachey met his bride to be, Miriam, with only a mountain of debt to his name.
“My poor father-in-law was terrified thinking “you won’t be able to live anywhere, you won’t be able to pay the rent”,” Mr Peachey recounted.
“St Joseph to me was the person who would stand me in good stead and find me a house.”
His future father-in-law could not believe Mr Peachey would find a house with what he had leftover each week, after servicing the debt.
With the assistance of a priest, he met a Catholic woman who owned a house on West Coast Highway and she let him rent it for considerably less than she had originally been asking.
She even handed Mr Peachey’s fiancé, Miriam, a 10 pound note saying “here you go; go buy something nice”.
While Mary and Jesus remain the core of Mr Peachey’s revised booklet, one would surely be hard pressed to find a more eclectic booklet on the subject.
It contains not only the details of the Rosary’s saintly origins – Mary is said to have given the original prayers to St Dominic by means of a dream in the 13th century – but also the step-by-step know-how to make your own beads.
In addition, there is a chapter about growing the grass that produces the seeds known as ‘Job’s tears’, a favourite among Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity, for making Beads.
There are also a couple of surprises here one would not normally expect such as how to preserve olives. Like the rest of the book, it was born out of Mr Peachey’s own experience of trial, error and persistence.
He very kindly makes me a gift of one of his Rosary Beads, pulling out an account book and writing my name next to a number on a ledger.
“There you are; that’s you there. You’re number 2320,” Mr Peachey says. He has kept a record of every pair of beads he has made and given away since making his first set in 1995.
He sets his mind back to a gift for an elderly Italian woman, a friend of many years, when he came upon the idea of making her a Rosary using seeds from her own olive tree (there is a section on using olive seeds in his booklet).
In spite of the many thousands of Hail Mary’s he has prayed and beads he has put together, this veritable champion of the Rosary, perhaps unwittingly, gives hope to the rest of us when says he has never, said the Rosary perfectly.
“It’s difficult, I don’t know who has, but I haven’t,” Mr Peachey said.
Like most everybody else, his mind wanders when he is saying the Hail Mary, when he is supposed to contemplating the relevant mystery.
“And if you’ve got a mind like mine, you’ll find it is somewhere else. That’s always been the case,” he says with a wry smile.
The reason for the Rosary’s enduring appeal was summed up by Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey at the booklet’s launch on July 22:
“It appeals to people of all levels in society from poor unlettered people to the highly educated.
The reason for this is its simplicity – prayers that are familiar to us and scenes taken from Holy Scripture,” Archbishop Emeritus Hickey said.
The booklet has a definite fan in Perth’s former chief prelate.
“I am pleased that this booklet has been launched here in Australia during the Year of Grace.
“The Bishops of Australia have asked us to pause for a while, take stock of our own faith, commitment and spiritual state, and prepare ourselves to take our full part in the life of the Church, including its missionary call in this age of secularism and unbelief.
“This little book helps us to all these things,” Archbishop Emeritus Hickey told the crowd, describing it as “vademecum, [an authoritative handbook] for all”. So many gifts are wrapped up in this small book, the fruit of eight decades of Brian Peachey’s experience and faith. It is my pleasure to launch it.”
The Gift of the Rosary is available from The Record Bookshop for $8.