Tuesday, May 05, 2015

St. Joseph Patron Saint of the Catholic Workers


We do not praise the Saints merely for the sake of praising them; as St. Bernard says, they are so full of Heaven's gifts that our poor praises can scarcely add anything to their glory. We praise them in order to admire them; we admire them in order to love them; we love them in order to serve them; we serve them in order to imitate them; and by imitating them we gain their favor, and merit to have them as protectors in heaven. It is glorious for St. joseph to be so great, but what do we gain by his greatness if he does not share it with us, if he be not our advocate on high? Now he is willing to be of service to us if we show ourselves worthy, if we render him some poor service, and offer him really heart-felt homage. In addition to honoring with a web page, a statue of him in our homes and praying novenas, all efficacious practices, there are a number of other pious devotions we can use to pay him homage and ask for favors.


If one may judge of the greatness of the Saints by the importance of the charges confided to them, St. Joseph must indeed be marvelously great. St. Peter and St. Paul in their epistles to the first Christians, claim only two titles, those of servants and apostles of Jesus Christ, as being sufficient to prove the excellence of their vocation. St. John Chrysostom agrees with them, this double title being, according to him, more excellent than that of monarch of the whole earth. Now, St. Joseph has many very high titles, and held glorious offices for which he received from God special graces. I shall only allude shortly to some of these privileges.

1. He was the worthy spouse of Our Lady, if indeed any spouse could be worthy of her; for the Holy Trinity in designing him for such an honor, endowed him with all the qualities necessary for bearing that name with dignity and propriety. And as this glorious title is, so to speak, the original source or root from which proceeded all the glories of St. Joseph, St. Matthew considered he could say nothing higher of him than call him Spouse of Mary.

2. He was the supposed father of Jesus Christ, and Our Lady did not hesitate to give him this title; thus when she found the Child Jesus in the temple. she said to Him: "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."

3. He was the representative of God the Father, Who, in communicating to him the honor of paternity to the Incarnate Word, willed that he should call Him by the name of  Son, a name which He alone gives in Heaven to the Uncreated Word. Thus God Who formerly had said He would give His glory to no one, now, by an exceptional favor communicates, in a manner, to a mortal that paternity which is the special glory of the Eternal Father. What is still more, God, according to St. John Damascene and St. Bernard, in giving to Joseph the name of father, gave him also a father's heart-----that is, the authority, the solicitude, and the love of a father.

4. Joseph was also the representative of the Holy Ghost, Who confided to him the Virgin Mary, placing His spouse under Joseph's dependence and direction. Great God! what a favor! The Father and the Holy Ghost intrust to him what is most dear to them! To what sublimity of virtue must he have attained to acquit himself worthily of such a charge!

5. Our Lady, in giving him her hand, gave him also her whole heart. Never did a wife love her husband so tenderly, so ardently, nor revere him more profoundly. Mary and Joseph, says St. Bernardin of Siena, were but one heart and soul; they were two in one same mind, one same affection, and each of them was the other's second self, because Our Lady and he were, so to speak, only one person. The heart of Mary with that of Joseph, and the heart of Joseph with that of Mary, who ever could imagine a union so intimate, a grace so great!

6. Joseph was the superior of Jesus and Mary, whose submission to him was so complete as to enrapture the Angels. Those pure spirits tremble in Heaven before the infinite majesty of the great God; what must they have thought when they saw Joseph command the little Jesus as a father, and the Divine Infant disport Himself on the breast of Joseph, like a bee in the bosom of a lily! As for the Queen of the world, as she had vowed, so she rendered to her chaste spouse all possible respect and obedience, never considering him otherwise, says Gerson, than as her lord and master. What a dignity to be the master of that Virgin more noble than the Seraphim!

7. He it was who nourished Jesus and Mary. A true father to that family, he gained their bread by the labor of his hands, and the sweat of his brow. He led them into Egypt, acting in this mystery as the representative of the Most Holy Trinity. What an honor to nourish Him Who nourishes the whole world, to give bread to Him Who covers our fields with plentiful harvests!

8. He is called by the Abbot Rupert Guardian of the Child Jesus. Without an earthly father, his Divine Ward cast Himself into the arms of Joseph, His only protector, defender and support.

9. He was also the treasurer of the Savior, and of Joseph more than of any other may it be said: Blessed is the faithful and wise servant, whom God has established as grand master of His family, to whose hands He has committed all His treasures, the government of all His possessions. What confidence does not this office imply!

10. We do not hesitate to say that Joseph was the Savior of the Savior. Joseph, son of Jacob, was called the Savior of the world, and he was not only the type, in the first place, of Jesus Christ, but also of St. Joseph, who had the honor of preserving the Divine Infant from the fury of Herod. As Our Lord deserves the name of Savior of man, because He preserves man from eternal death, so it is allowable to call St. Joseph Savior of the Savior, because he preserved Him from temporal death. Glorious Saint to whom were entrusted the person of the Incarnate Word, and all the secrets of the Eternal Father! The Angel might himself have carried the Child into Egypt; but not daring to do so, he came as the messenger of Heaven and of God Himself, to Joseph who was chosen for that employment.

11. To these titles add another distinguished title, that of having been the Master of his Master. Jesus was like an apprentice in the workshop of Joseph, who taught him to work as a carpenter, so that everyone said of Jesus: "Is not this the carpenter's son, a carpenter Himself? Have we not often seen Him handling the plane and the chisel, helping His father Joseph?" What must St. Joseph have thought when he saw his Divine apprentice, taking pains at His work-----He Who by a single word had created the universe!

12. Joseph was the presumptive heir of Jesus Christ, and of Our Lady, since the father then naturally inherited from his son, and the husband from his wife. What an incomparable advantage!

13. In all orders of things great privileges are attached to being the eldest, the first. The first Apostle, the first Martyr, the first Seraph, the first son of the Patriarchs, all have special rights which belong to no others; therefore I conclude that St. Joseph has singular prerogatives above all other men, for he was the first to contemplate the admirable humanity of Our Lord Jesus, the first to adore Him, the first to touch Him, the first to serve Him, to nourish Him, and to dwell with Him, the first to hear Him speak and to be enlightened by His Divine instructions. He is the first confessor for the faith, since he first suffered for the love of Jesus Christ, forsaking his home and his country to fly with Him; the first Apostle making the Messias known to men, by announcing Him in Egypt; the first man, perhaps, who made profession and vow of virginity, and kept it in the state of marriage; in a word, the first Christian and the first model for the children of the Church. All these distinctions give Joseph. great pre-eminence over all other Saints, and are almost infinite, so that we may apply to him what Jacob said of his eldest son Reuben: "Excelling [his brethren] in gifts, greater in command."

14. Theologians teach that the office of St. Joseph was more exalted than any other in the Church. We do not speak of Our Lady, who is always above all comparison. They acknowledge, it is true, that in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and in the order of sanctifying grace, the office of the Apostles is the most sublime; but they recognize in the Mother of God, and in St. Joseph, an order, a hierarchy apart, that of the hypostatic union, destined to the immediate service of the person of the Word made flesh, and this second hierarchy is superior in dignity to the first. The Apostles, as we said above, are only the servants of Jesus Christ; Mary and Joseph are His mother and His father.

But shall I be able to relate all that God has done for St. Joseph? No; I plainly confess that there is neither mind, nor pen, nor tongue capable of imagining, writing, or expressing the grandeur and incomparable prerogatives of this spouse of the Virgin, this father of Jesus Christ, this governor of both! And yet, speak I must! Pardon, O great Saint, my unpardonable boldness! Yet, if your holy spouse, Our Lady, will deign to inspire me with a part of what she knows, if she will give fluency to my pen and warmth to my heart, I shall be able to say enough to content your pious clients, and edify your faithful servants.


IT is a fundamental law of the household of God, that when the Almighty makes choice of a man to accomplish any great work, He endows him with all the graces necessary to acquit himself with dignity and perfection of the office confided to him by infallible Providence. This principle is laid down by the Angelical Doctor, and is borrowed by him from St. Paul. Now, the Holy Trinity had from all eternity destined St. Joseph to be the spouse of the Mother of God, and the supposed father of the little Savior, and to fulfill towards Him all the obligations of real paternity: hence it follows that St. Joseph was endowed with all that was necessary for this double office. Oh that I were eloquent enough to give you a faint idea of the qualities necessary to be the worthy spouse of the Queen of Angels, the adopted father of the King of earth and Heaven! Truly, in him, as St. Gregory of Nazianzen says of St. Basil, nature had transformed itself into grace?

A Greek author said that he was tempted to believe in Pythagoras' system of the Tansmigration of souls, because it seemed to him that all beautiful souls had returned to earth to animate the body of this philosopher. This, indeed, was rashly and foolishly spoken. But we may truly say that all natural and moral virtues seem to have united their efforts to embellish the person of the great St. Joseph, and to enrich his soul.

When the first Joseph drove out of the palace of Pharaoh in a royal chariot, Scripture tells us that the people pressed around as he passed, to contemplate the magnificence of his person, and the beauty of his countenance. Indeed, Joseph appeared to be more like an Angel than like a man. Now, St. Bernard establishes a parallel between the two Josephs, which is entirely to the advantage of the second; and this cannot surprise us, because the latter, being appointed to an office infinitely more honorable than that of the former, must consequently possess far superior qualities and virtues. What virginal modesty appeared in his venerable countenance! what sweetness in his eyes! what gravity in his words! what wisdom and discernment in the manner he governed God's family, composed of only two persons, but whose value outweighed that of all creation!

When it pleases the King of kings to call a man to authority, He imprints on his brow a character of majesty which commands respect and obedience. We read in the first Book of Kings, that in the tribe of Benjamin there was a man called Cis. He had a son named Saul, a chosen and goodly man, and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he; from his shoulders and upward he appeared above all the people. Such was the man whom God chose to be the first king of the Jewish nation. Tell me, then, what must have been the majesty of Joseph, to whom was given authority over the King and the Queen of the universe?

In the genealogy of Joseph, St. Matthew shows him to be descended in a direct line from fourteen patriarchs, beginning with Abraham, until David; from fourteen kings after David, until the transmigration of the Jews to Babylon; and from fourteen princes or chiefs of the people, after the transmigration of Babylon, until Jesus Christ. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire this long enumeration? Doubtless, among other reasons, to show that the descendant of so many great men was also the heir of their noble qualities and royal virtues. All the perfections distributed among so many princes were united in St. Joseph. The liberal hand of the Creator poured forth in profusion all qualities of body and soul upon this great Saint, so as to make him worthy of espousing the Queen of Angels and men, of being the supposed father of the little Messias, and of being teacher of the Divine apprentice, Who, during eighteen years, deigned to work under his direction in the humble workshop at Nazareth.

Were we to question the most holy Virgin about the graces of her spouse, she would, no doubt, reply in words borrowed from the Canticles: "My beloved spouse is white as snow by his virginal purity, red as scarlet by his modesty; chosen out of thousands. His head is as the finest gold; his eyes as doves upon brooks of waters which are washed with milk and set beside the plentiful streams; his hands shine like gold, full of the precious stones of all good works; his voice is full of sweetness; all the graces of nature are united in his face; he is beloved of heaven and earth."

To this portrait we shall only add one word, which Mary could not say, but which St. Bernardin has said for her. Joseph was the living image of his virgin spouse; they resembled each other like two pearls. Tell me what was the beauty of Mary, and I shall tell you what was that of Joseph. But we would do great injustice to our glorious Patriarch were we to imagine that his resemblance to his most chaste spouse was merely outward. "All the glory of the King's daughter is within." This may also be said of St. Joseph, as we shall see in the following chapters.

Extracted from : www.catholictradition.org/Joseph/joseph-txt2.htm

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