Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant that is vital for the growth and maintenance of all body tissues. Though easily absorbed by the intestines, vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, and is excreted in the urine within two to four hours of ingestion. Human history has been deeply influenced by vitamin C—or more accurately, by a frequent and disastrous lack of this vital nutrient. In his book The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease, the late biochemist Irwin Stone stated: “… the lack of this molecule [vitamin C] in humans has contributed to more deaths, sickness, and just plain misery than any other single factor in man’s long history.”
Written records dating back to ancient Egypt contain the earliest reports of scurvy, a dreaded human disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. In 450 B.C., Aristotle carefully described the symptoms of scurvy, which include muscle weakness, lethargy, extreme fatigue, depression, joint pains, swollen and bleeding gums, foul breath, loss of teeth, bleeding under the skin and orifices (hemorrhages), and, eventually, death.
As Saint Joseph provided for his foster Son
and the Blessed Virgin here on earth,
so in heaven he has a corresponding charge.
He is the provider.
— Blessed James Alberione, SSP
We know we can trust someone who has training or expertise in a particular area, or whose personal experience connects with our own, or because that person simply, obviously, immensely cares about us.
So why should we trust in or pray to Saint Joseph? There is a whole liturgical calendar filled with saints — why should we go to Joseph to provide for us in our needs? Because, time and again, Saint Joseph has interceded on behalf of so many people: young and old, rich and poor, devout souls and the half-skeptical. We, too, can trust Joseph to care about us.
Go to Joseph!
Thousands of years before Saint Joseph was born, the Book of Genesis recounts the story of the youngest son of Jacob — also named Joseph — who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. After he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh, he was released from slavery and prison and put in charge of preparations for the seven-year famine the dreams had predicted. When hunger did indeed fill the world, Egypt alone had food because of Joseph’s hard work and preparation. People who came to Egypt for supplies were told by Pharaoh, “Go to Joseph!” (Gn 41:55).
Since I did not observe these two babies from birth I shall never know how they were right from the start. Martin was already fifteen days old when I saw him properly for the first time, and my first observation of Jack took place around the time when he should have been born had he not been premature; he was then one month old. A fortnight – and even more, a month – is a long time for a baby. Neither had I any means of knowing anything about the nine crucial months of pregnancy. One can only speculate about their life inside the womb. I was, however, in a position to observe the impact that their environment seemed to have on them from very early days and to see some of the means and mechanisms each employed to cope with the impact on them of their post-natal world. Clearly, however, I was not in any position to tell their ‘whole’ story even over the time when I knew them.
A marked retreat seemed evident in Martin from the beginning: in his closing his eyes to the world, in his obsessive and constant movements, in his resisting novelties and pushing them away with his tongue. Jack seemed to have been born more open although also very vulnerable, and in a sense probably not yet ready to be born. It is impossible to know what kind of influences and experiences they may have felt inside the womb. Yet both babies had come out of the womb at least physically fit for post-natal life and in this respect pre-natal life had proved safe for them. That stage, however, had ended suddenly, and presumably unexpectedly, as their births were traumatic: Martin was born through Caesarean section and Jack was born prematurely. The relative security and protection of the womb was then abruptly replaced by the harsh impact of other human beings and of a world in which they were bombarded by confusion, bewilderment, disappointment, and in Martin's case by humiliation, and in Jack's by absent-mindedness and emotional poverty.