Saint Joseph, The Second Greatest Saint
"Joseph was the living image of his Virgin Spouse; they resembled each other like two pearls."
St. Joseph in Sacred Scriptures is mentioned only by St. Luke and St. Matthew and then just briefly. He is never quoted; he is silent. Yet he was the guardian, provider and protector of Jesus and Mary. He is the head of the Holy Family. So little is known of him and yet he is the patron of a happy death, the patron of the Universal Church, and the model of chastity and purity; especially of young men. All husbands should seek his help because he was the perfect example of how a head of the family should behave. This talk will cover 5 general topics; St. Joseph and his power and history, St. Joseph as head of the Holy family, His role at Fatima, St. Teresa of Avila and her devotion to St. Joseph and my own personal devotion.
The earliest writings of the Fathers, were called "Apostolic", because their writings were the closest in time to the apostles. They wrote of Joseph and Mary from the oral and written traditions. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died 107, in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus, wrote, "The prince of this world (Satan) had no knowledge of Mary's virginity and childbirth, just as he knew nothing of our Lord's death; three resounding mysteries accomplished in the silence of God." 1
St. Jerome later commented on this text, "Why was Jesus not simply conceived of a virgin, but of a married woman? - In the first place so that Mary's genealogy might be established by Joseph's; next, so that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; finally, so that, as a fugitive in Egypt, she might find support in the person of Joseph." The holy martyr Ignatius adds a fourth reason: that this childbirth might be kept hidden from the devil. 2
In the year 155, St. Justine wrote his "Dialogue with Trypho". In it we learn that Jesus was born in a cave and that Joseph was a carpenter by trade. St. Justin insists that Jesus was regarded as Joseph's son, but in reality He was the Son of God! This point was emphasized because of the Gnostics. They preached a heresy that Jesus was the natural son of St. Joseph.
It was St. Irenaeus, in the year 185, who refuted this heresy. In his writings there are 14 textual references concerning St. Joseph. It is in Father Bertrand's book, Cahiers de Josephisme, this information is found. His book is a collection of the patristic texts. Father Bertrand in his book concludes, "Thus the first Fathers furnish us with several precious traditions, the elementary but fundamental data which would permit Josephology to develop in the normal course of events: providential reasons for Joseph's espousal to Mary and of his paternity over Jesus; - Mary's total virginity and the absence of any masculine participation in Jesus' conception; - the full submission of Joseph to the oracles of the prophets and the angelic messages showing him the will of God; - and, because of this submission, the intimate entry of Joseph into the grandiose economy of the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption."3
Not much is written about St. Joseph and yet after Our Lady, he is the greatest saint in heaven. It is a pious belief that St. Joseph was sanctified before his birth. St. Thomas Aquinas believed that he was sanctified before his conception as was Our Lady. This is not a new concept because we read of the sanctification of St. John the Baptist before his birth in the Gospel of St. Luke.
The Doctors and Fathers of the Church contend how could St. Joseph, who was to care, tend, feed and carry in his arms Jesus, who was to destroy the power of Satan, be himself under the yoke and slavery of the devil. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernadine of Sienna and other Doctors of the Church believed this. It is believed that St. Joseph, after the contraction of original sin, was sanctified in the womb by the baptism of charity; as was St. John the Baptist. This was preached at the Council of Constance.
In 1522, Isidoro Isolano, a Dominican Father, published a book called "Summary of the Gifts of St. Joseph." He writes of St. Joseph's sanctification taking place before his birth. He was sanctified because of his future exalted dignity and because he is the closest of the saints, after Our Lady, to Jesus. Jeremias was sanctified before his birth because he was to prophesy of Jesus as was St. John the Baptist. St. John was to point out Jesus' presence to men. Why not St. Joseph, who lived many years with Jesus as the head of the Holy Family? Our Lord Himself chose to place Himself under St. Joseph and to be obedient to him. The Saints are called friends of Christ, but only St. Joseph is called His father!
In the Apocrypha writings, (non-canonical writings), we find existing in the East a feast in honor of St. Joseph. (July 20). In the writings of St. Ephrem, we see devotion to St. Joseph. St. Ephrem was a Doctor of the Church, an orator, a poet, and a great mystic. His knowledge, admiration and love for St. Joseph was great.
Saint Ephrem was born in Syria in 306 and died in 372. His works were translated into Greek immediately after his death. St. Jerome ranks his writings just after Sacred Scripture. St. Ephrem writes of this beloved saint, "Blessed are you, O just Joseph, for He who became a child grew up at your side taking you for His model; (The Word) lived under your roof, though never leaving the Father. Blessed are the names He has taken in his love: He who was the Son of the Father is called son of David, son of Joseph. No one will ever be able to praise Joseph worthily except You Yourself who are truly and according to nature the Son of the Eternal Father, You the loving shepherd whose mission has always been the perpetual following after the sheep in danger of perishing." 4
St. John Chrysostom (died 407), called the Golden Tongue spoke of Joseph's virtues. In the Gospels, St. John the Evanangelist said the word Just is applied to St. Joseph. Just, means possessing all the virtues. St. John Chrysostom tells us, "Justice is the all-encompassing virtue." St. John says that because Joseph was just, he was the perfect observer of the law. He also stated that by obeying the angel, protecting Mary and becoming the official father of Jesus, Joseph shared in the whole economy of the mystery.
St. Joseph's glory in heaven is great! One day Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret of Cortona, telling her how pleased He was with her devotion to St. Joseph, His foster father, who was most dear to Him. Our Lord expressed a wish that she show some daily special act of homage to St. Joseph.
In the life of St. Gertrude the Great, it is revealed that rapt in ecstasy, she beheld heaven open and there she saw St. Joseph seated on his throne. Every time his name was pronounced the saints reverently bent their heads in token of their deep respect. Mary many times referred to St. Joseph as her dear spouse when talking about him to St. Gertrude. When speaking about him to St. Bridget of Sweden, she again spoke of him as her dear spouse!
Devotion to St. Joseph goes back to the early church in the hearts of the faithful, but not publicly. Why? There were many heresies attacking the Divinity and Person of Jesus. One person in particular, Cerinthus, declared that even as Jesus was the true Son of Mary, so to He was the true Son of Joseph. The Church rather than exalt Joseph thereby giving credence to this heresy, quietly set aside devotion to St. Joseph. The Church was guided in this matter by the Holy Spirit, but she did not abandon him. In the East he was honored and cherished from the Apostolic times. The Copts or the Egyptians, kept a feast for him even before the time of St. Athanasius, who lived in the fourth century. In Syria and Persia, honor was paid to St. Joseph. In the Calendar of the Syrians, the 7th Sunday before Christmas was the feast of the Revelation to Joseph, Spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary.
The ancient hymns of the Greek Church pay honor to St. Joseph. But the honor to St. Joseph was not so prominent in the West. The earliest Church built in his honor was in Bologna, Italy, dated the year 1129. To say that devotion to St. Joseph in the Latin Church did not exist in the hearts of the faithful is wrong. Early churches were built as shrines to honor and house the relics of the martyrs. There is no actual relic of St. Joseph, only portions of his garments sanctified by having come in contact with his holy body. Holy Mother the Church possesses a relic of the mantle of St. Joseph, the very mantle that probably many times enveloped the Infant Jesus when Held in the arms of St. Joseph. This relic was kept in the ancient Church of St. Anastasia, built around the year 300 by Apollonia, a noble Roman matron. The Church contained the body of St. Anastasia, Virgin and martyr. When St. Jerome was called to Rome by Pope St. Damascus, he celebrated mass at the altar were this relic was preserved. The chalice he used is still there. In this Church is a tabernacle containing a piece of the wood of the Cross, a piece of the veil of the Blessed Virgin, and also of the cloak of St. Joseph. There is an inscription on a stone stating this fact. 5
According to Pope Benedict XIV, the Carmelites were the first to import from the East to the West the Laudable practice of giving the fullest cultus to St. Joseph. 6 They were also the first to honor him by a special office in Europe.
In the Franciscan order, St. Francis himself was the first to extend to St. Joseph all his love and homage. We read of the same love and devotion in the Dominican order. Such saints as St. Bernadine of Sienna, St. Albert the Great, who composed an office in his honor, and the great saint, Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church, encouraged devotion to St. Joseph. Her love and devotion to St. Joseph was so great that she once said that, "I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which he has freed me, both in body and in soul. To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succors us in them all and that the Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth ( for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him) just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks. This has also been the experience of other persons whom I have advised to commend themselves to him; and even to-day there are many who have great devotion to him through having newly experienced this truth." 7
It was because of this great saint, that the love of St. Joseph was made known to the faithful. Every convent she founded was placed under his protection. Many times a statue of St. Joseph was placed on the intended site of a future convent, placing all in his hands. He never failed her. As he provided the material needs for the Holy Family, so too he provides for our material needs now. All we have to do he ask him.
Saint Teresa further tells us, "I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to him and render him particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for he gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him. For some years now, I think, I have made some request of him every year on his festival and I have always had it granted. If my petition is in any way ill directed, he directs it aright for my greater good." 8
This great saint writes, "At this same period, on the festival of the Assumption of Our Lady, I was in a monastery of the Order of the glorious St. Dominic, thinking of the many sins which in times past I had confessed in that house and of other things concerning my wicked life, when there came upon me a rapture so vehement that it nearly drew me forth out of myself altogether. I sat down and I remember even now that I could neither see the Elevation nor hear Mass being said, and later this caused me a certain amount of scruple While in this state, I thought I saw myself being clothed in a garment of great whiteness and brightness. At first I could not see who was clothing me, but later I saw Our Lady on my right hand and my father Saint Joseph on my left, and it was they who were putting that garment upon me, I was given to understand that I was now cleansed of my sins. When the clothing was ended, and I was experiencing the greatest joy and bliss, I thought that Our Lady suddenly took me by the hands and told me that I was giving her great pleasure by serving the glorious Saint Joseph and that I might be sure that all I was trying to do about the convent would be accomplished... Our Lady then seemed to throw round my neck a very beautiful gold collar, to which was fastened a most valuable cross." 9
A later writer, Patrignani, wrote, "St. Teresa is one of the most resplendent stars, one of the finest diamonds in the crown of St. Joseph. She was chosen by God to spread his cult throughout the whole world and in some manner put the final touches to this great work." 10
When St. John of the Cross was prior of the monastery of Los Martires of Granada in 1582, he would personally visit a foundation in the same town he had helped start. One day unable to go he sent Father Pedro and Father Juan. On returning home they met a good looking man with a light and slightly ruddy complexion, white hair and an imposing and venerable appearance.
The man approached them and asked "Where are you coming from, my Fathers?"
"From the discalced religious," replied Father Pedro.
"Your reverences are right," continued the stranger, "to minister to these sisters, for this Order is highly pleasing to our Lord, and His Majesty esteems it greatly-for this reason the Order will flourish."
Then he asked a second question: "Fathers, why does this Order have so great devotion to St. Joseph?"
"Because our holy mother Teresa was very devoted to him (She had recently died) for he helped her considerably in all her foundations and obtained a great many things from the Lord for her. That is why she put all the houses she founded under the patronage of St. Joseph."
"And there will be many other favors," replied the mysterious man. "May your reverences regard me well and may they cherish a deep devotion to this saint, for nothing they ask for will go unanswered."
Suddenly the stranger disappeared, and the astonished religious could not understand how. They returned to the convent and told the prior all that had happened, but the Brother John of the Cross was unmoved by their news, and simply replied: "Enough of this! Didn't you recognize who he was? That was Saint Joseph! Go and kneel before him. He didn't come for your sake, but for mine because I have not had all the devotion toward him that I ought to have had, but certainly will have in the future." 11
Our Lady has revealed on numerous occasions to many saint the glory of her beloved spouse. She revealed to St. Bridget that all that has been said in her praise may be generally and proportionately applied to Saint Joseph. She further told this saint that Saint Joseph frequently made use of these beautiful words 'Heaven grant that I may live so as to accomplish the will of my God!' Our Lady added: 'This is why the glory of Joseph is now so great.'
In the book, Divine Favors Granted to St. Joseph, by Father Pere Binet, S.J., he writes:
"Theologians teach that the amount of grace acquired in this life is the measure of the glory to be received in heaven. If this be true, which we cannot doubt, we may be sure that St. Joseph's place in the heavenly Jerusalem is an extremely high one. (Father illustrated this point with the following example) The Chancellor of Paris, when he preached before the Fathers of the Council of Constance asserted: 'I cannot tell you, my Fathers, which is the most admirable, the humility of Mary, or the sublimity of Joseph.' (Father Binet continued ) Now the humility of Our Lady being, so to speak, infinite, what must we think of the equally surprising greatness of her holy spouse? Verily, if Jesus Christ still calls Joseph His father, and if the Blessed Virgin still calls him her lord, how ineffable is his glory! If he, of all men, hold still a claim to these titles in the presence of all the Angels and Saints, how exalted must be his station amongst them!" 12
The power of St. Joseph's intercession is beautifully portrayed by Father Faber in his book, "The Blessed Sacrament". Father Faber writes:
"God's time has come for this dear devotion. Gerson was raised up to be its doctor and theologian, and St. Teresa to be its saint, and St. Francis de Sales to be its popular leader and missioner. The houses of Carmel were like the Holy House of Nazareth to it, and the colleges of the Jesuits its peaceful sojourns in dark Egypt. The contemplative took it up, and fed upon it; the active laid hold of it, and nursed the sick and fed the hungry in its name. The working people fastened on it, for both the saint and his devotion were of them. The young were drawn to it and it made them pure, the aged rested on it, for it made them peaceful. St. Sulpice took it and it became the spirit of the Secular Clergy. The Venerable Olier stated, 'The Blessed Virgin gave this great saint to me to be my patron, telling me that he was the patron of hidden souls, and adding these words: Nothing, after my Son, is dearer to me in Heaven or on earth.' When the great Society of Jesus had taken refuge in the Sacred Heart, and the Fathers of the Sacred Heart were keeping their lamps burning ready for the resurrection of Society, devotion to St. Joseph was their stay and their consolation, and they cast the seeds of a new devotion, to the Heart of Joseph, which will some day flourish and abound. So it gathered into itself orders and congregations, high and low, young and old, ecclesiastical and lay, schools and confraternities, hospitals, orphanages, and penitentiaries, everywhere holding up Jesus, everywhere hand in hand with Mary, everywhere the refreshing shadow of the Eternal Father. Then, when it had filled Europe with its odor, it went over the Atlantic, plunged into the damp umbrage of the back-woods, embraced all Canada, became a mighty missionary power, and tens of thousands of savages filled the forests and rolling prairies at sun-down with hymns to St. Joseph, the praises of the foster-father of our Lord." 13
The feast day of St. Joseph, March 19, was celebrated locally and partially, but in 1481, Sixtus IV, appointed it to be kept by the whole Church. In 1621, Gregory XV, raised it to the dignity of a festival of obligation, with abstinence from servile work. Later the office of St. Joseph was extended to the whole Church. It was elevated to a double of the second class, having the addition of proper hymns in the Vespers, Matins, and Lauds, with it antiphons, versicles, and lessons taken from the 39th and 41st Chapters of Genesis, commemorating the wisdom and felicity of the ancient patriarch, who typified the foster father of Jesus. This elevation to a double of the second class with the addition of the hymns, was due to the instances of the venerable servant of God, Sister Clara Maria of the Passion, one of the noble house of Colonna, who, having joined the Carmelites of St. Teresa, was filled with the zeal of her holy mother and laboured energetically to obtain an increase of honor to St. Joseph. Pope Clement XI , on February 3, 1714 added more responses taken from the New testament to the Office. These responses were composed by this pope. Pope Clement X, a devout client of St. Joseph, composed the beautiful hymn, Te Joseph celebrent. 14
Pope Paul III granted permission to the Franciscans and later to other religious orders to celebrate the feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, using the Office of the nativity, but substituting the word Espousals for Nativity. This same Pope commissioned the Dominican, Pietro Aurato, to compose a proper office for this feast. Pope Benedict XIII, on August 22, 1725, adopted the office and fixed its celebration universally on January 23. Finally Pope Benedict XIV inserted St. Joseph in the Litanies. 15
The Carmelites, in the General Chapter held in 1621, unanimously chose St. Joseph as the patron or father of the whole Reformed Order of the Carmelites. An office was later composed for him, which the Church approved in 1689, adding the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph be celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter. Now every Religious community, order and diocese desired this same privilege. The Venetian State was the first that received an indult to this effect from Rome. Others followed in suit. But this devotion was not limited to Europe, a great devotion to St. Joseph was being spread in the New World, especially in Mexico. In the "Life of St. Joseph" written by P. Joseph Ignatius Vallejo, S. J., himself a Mexican priest, tells us that the custom of keeping the 19th day of each month in honor of the Saint began in the City of Mexico, but afterwards spread throughout New Spain. In many churches, its celebration might have been mistaken for a general jubilee, so great was the approach to the Sacraments.
As remarkable proof of the devotion of Spanish America to the Saint, he mentions the custom of people giving or adding his name in Baptism or Confirmation so frequently that, when ignorant of a person's name, a stranger would always address a stranger as Joseph. 16
Pope Pius IX declared, that both by the example of his predecessors and by the special devotion which from his youth he had ever entertained for this great Patriarch, on the 10th of September, 1847, he joyfully extended to the whole Church the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph as a double of the first class. He was universally honored by three great feasts. The Church celebrates the Patronage of only two, Mary and Joseph, both have their own proper Mass and office. Pope Pius IX next to Mary, had a great devotion to St. Joseph. On June 9, 1862, in his Allocution on the Canonization of the Japanese Martyrs, after having urged all the Bishops to encourage in their respective dioceses devotion to the Saint, on proceeding to implore the Divine aid, immediately after the invocation of the Ever-Blessed Virgin he invoked St. Joseph before Saints Peter and Paul. This was the first time this change was made. 17
During Vatican Council I, in the year 1870, at the request of the People, declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. England alone sent over 200,000 signatures petition this request. Because of this, his feast day, March 19th, was raised to a double of the first class.
Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Quamquam pluries laid the theological basis of the singular and eminent supernatural mission attributed to St. Joseph by Divine Providence. Pope Leo XIII writes, "There are special reasons why Blessed Joseph should be explicitly named Patron of the Church and why the Church should in turn expect much from his patronage and guardianship. For he, indeed, was the husband of Mary and the father, as was supposed, of Jesus Christ. From this arises all his dignity, grace, holiness, and glory. The dignity of the Mother of God is certainly so sublime that nothing can surpass it; but none the less, since the bond of marriage existed between Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, there can be no doubt that more than any other person he approached that supereminent dignity by which the Mother of God is raised far above all created natures. For marriage is the closest possible union and relationship whereby each spouse mutually participates in the goods of the other. Consequently, if God gave Joseph as a spouse to the Virgin He assuredly gave him not only as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, and the guardian of her honor, but also as a sharer in her exalted dignity by reason of the conjugal tie itself."18
Joseph's dignity was taken from his title Husband of Mary. Pope Leo XIII then pointed out that in the eyes of men he was the guardian and father of Jesus. He writes, "Joseph alone stands out in the august dignity because he was the guardian of the Son of God by Divine appointment, and in the opinion of men was His father. As a consequence the Word of God was modestly obedient to Joseph, was attentive to His commands, and paid to Him every honor that children should render their parent. The Divine Household which Joseph governed contained the beginnings of the new Church. That as once it was his sacred trust to guard with watchful care the family of Nazareth, no matter what befell, so now, by virtue of his heavenly patronage, he is in turn to protect and to defend the Church of Christ."
The Pope also proposed St. Joseph for the model for the father of the family and the laborer. The feast of St. Joseph the Workman, on May 1 was established by Pius XII in 1955 and Pope Benedict XV establishing the feast of the Holy Family in 1921.
Pope Pius X approved the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites publishing the Litany of St. Joseph in 1909. Pope Benedict recommended confidence to St. Joseph to the suffering and dying. He inserted the name of St. Joseph in the Divine Praises in 1921.
Pope Pius XI spoke often on St. Joseph. He said, " He is all powerful with the Divine Redeemer and with His Blessed Mother." In his encyclical against Communism (Divini Redemptoris, March 19, 1937) he stated "We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty protector."
Finally John XXIII, placed the council under the protection of St. Joseph. On November 13, 1972, he inserted the name of Joseph in the Canon of the Mass, which had remained unchanged for almost five centuries.
The Dominican, Isodoro Isolano, in 1522 wrote: "The hidden merits of Joseph shall be by degrees unveiled and made manifest to the whole world; and an inexhaustible treasure be revealed. The Vicar of Christ upon earth will command the feasts of the reputed father of Jesus and spouse of the Queen of the world to be celebrated to the utmost boundaries of the Kingdom of the Church militant. In the calendar of the saints the name of Joseph shall be sung at the head, not in the rear. Even as in Heaven he was ever above, so on earth he shall not be below." 19
Pierre d'Ailly, Cardinal of Cambrai, wrote in his "Treatise on St. Joseph" that this saint must be highly glorified, for he had greatly humbled himself. Long years had our holy Patriarch been hidden in his profound humility, like a candle under a bushel, and had loved to remain so, but the time was come when he who humbled himself was to be exalted, and to be exalted in proportion to his humility. He was now to become the light set upon its candlestick to illuminate the whole Church with its beneficent rays.
The Canon Vitali said, "In order that Joseph, our most powerful patron, should interpose for us, for our families, for the Catholic Church, for the whole world, what remains for us to do? One thing for us, and one thing for our Holy mother the Church. We, by true love to Jesus, by sincere devotion to Mary, by the practice of Christian virtues, by filial tenderness and frequent exercises of piety towards St. Joseph, must render ourselves worthy of his special protection. All, of whatever state or condition, must recognize him as their mirror, master, and leader, -princes, ecclesiastics, seculars, monarches and subjects, pastors of souls and cloistered religious, priests and laymen, lettered men and artisans, virgins and married, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, - all must hold him as their particular advocate, for he has to protect all in life, in death, and after death, that is in Purgatory...Then our holy mother the Church will certainly be neither reluctant nor slow to declare that Joseph is in glory and dignity superior, next to Mary, to all the angels and all the saints, thus placing Joseph in his true position, always and immediately close to his spouse, without any exception, in the public prayers, sacred rites, and the Most Holy Sacrifice; and thus on the feasts of Mary her dear spouse, Joseph, will ever be commemorated, and on the feasts of Joseph there will be a sweet memorial of Mary, even as fitly takes place on the feasts of the holy princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul."20
In the Litany to St. Joseph, we pray, "Head of the Holy Family, Pray for us!" At Fatima, on October 13, 1917, the three children saw St. Joseph, holding the Child Jesus, while both of them were blessing the world, Our Lady of Rosary stood by watching. It is interesting to point several things about this vision. The first point, Our Lady did not take an active part, but stood back in deference to her spouse St. Joseph. She acknowledged him as Head of the Holy Family. Also, I believe this scene foreshadowed the future problems for the families of this century. The blessing St. Joseph was giving, is desperately needed by the families of today. Only the three children saw this vision, the 70,000 people present saw something entirely different. They saw the sun plummeting towards the earth. Today, the traditional role of the father has been rejected by the world.
You must remember St. Joseph was the Head of the Holy Family, because he was the Father of the Family. The Father represents God the Father. This traditional role has been attacked and replaced with divorce, single parent families, working parents, drugs, illicit sex and a total reversal on the role of the Father. You read of homosexuals and lesbians pushing for their rights to marry and adopt children; raising and instilling in them their perverted ideas and morals of what the family life should be.
Today how many children in America have no real family life? The phrase 'latch key children' is a common accepted practice. The guidance and protection of a father has been denied them. My generation was raised in the stable, loving environment of a home, nurtured by the mother and provided by the hard work of a Father. Today this is virtually nonexistent; an ideal not a reality. This has happened because the pleas of Our Lady at Fatima have been ignored and Satan is having a field day! He knows that by destroying the family, he will be successful.
No longer do Husband and wives model their family after the Holy Family with St. Joseph as its head. There is too much self-love, self-gratification, self-seeking, self- indulgence and selfishness today. A truly holy family today must be self-sacrificing. Our best example is St. Joseph. When you think about it, never in any of Our Lady's earthly apparitions did St. Joseph appear with her except at Fatima. Our Heavenly Mother foresaw the crisis taking place today in our families and gave us the solution to the problem long before it became a problem - Devotion to St. Joseph as Head of the Holy Family!
St. Joseph is the role model for husbands today. If all men lived and acted as St. Joseph did, how holy are families would be today! If young men would imitate his purity of mind, soul and body, we would not be reading about so much promiscuous sex and our media would not be bombarded with so much filth and pornography. Men would respect women (and themselves) as temples of the Holy Spirit. It is so imperative that men today pray to St. Joseph for this great grace! Our Lady told Jacinta before she died, that so many souls go to hell for sins of the flesh!
It is these same sins that send a soul to hell for all eternity, that today, are accepted norms in our society. That which was unthinkable 50 years ago is nothing today. Our books, movies and T.V. shows are filled with sex. We are assaulted by it on all sides. People today are no longer shocked by what they see or hear because the shock has been removed by the repeated exposure of this filth. They see and they hear but they no longer care. Our children are being raised in this anesthetized society. The Ten Commandments are out of date, no longer necessary.
I propose the solution to you - St. Joseph. It was through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that Pope Pius IX declared him Patron of the Universal Church. When the family is in crisis, so too is the Church in crisis. The family is the foundation of the Church. Today more than ever we need the guidance and protection the head of the Holy Family. St. Joseph was given to us at Fatima as the beacon in this darkness.
St. Joseph is also the Patron of a Happy Death. When you meditate on how he died, in the arms of Jesus and Mary, you realize why he is the Patron of a Happy Death. In the City of God by Venerable Mother Mary Agreda, it is related to this Holy Nun, by the Blessed Virgin the manner of how St. Joseph died.
"It is necessary to mention that the long sickness and sufferings which preceded the death of Saint Joseph was not the sole cause and occasion of his passing away; for with all his infirmities he could have extended the term of his life, if to them he had not joined the fire of the intense love within his bosom. In order that is death might be more the triumph of his love than of the effects of original sin, the Lord suspended the special and miraculous assistance by which his natural forces were enabled to withstand the violence of his love during his lifetime. As soon as this divine assistance was withdrawn, nature was overcome by his love and the bonds and chains, by which this most holy soul was detained in its mortal body, were at once dissolved and the separation of the soul from the body in which death consists took place. As I have said above, love was then the real cause of the death of Saint Joseph. This was at the same time the greatest and most glorious of all his infirmities for in it death is but a sleep of the body and the beginning of real life." 21
It is also related in the City of God the privileges conferred upon St. Joseph by God. He is most powerful for attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to the most Holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly, for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in families.
These and many other favors God grants to those who seek the intercession of St. Joseph! 22 These and many other favors I know of from my personnel experience with St. Joseph. I have always had a great love and devotion to St. Joseph. Whatever I have asked of him, he has always granted it, especially through a novenna prayer I pray to him everyday. (This prayer is at the end of this chapter)
There was a time when my husband needed a car for work, but the money was not there to purchase one. I prayed to St. Joseph and within a week we obtained a car. It was not too long after that we decided to buy a house. We looked for seven months and could not find anything. At that point, I put the problem in the hands of St. Joseph. I started praying to him the 1st of November, we not only found a house, (it was more than I had prayed for) but the loan was approved and the papers signed by November 30. Two other couples had put in higher bids on the home, but ours was accepted.
One of the most phenomenal favors I have ever obtained from St. Joseph was accomplished in less than 48 hours. My one son is a dyslexic, and my doctor along with several other specialist, had told me that swimming was very good therapy for dyslexics. My husband and I talked about it and he said the only way we could afford a pool was if was free. I looked at him and said I was going to talk to St. Joseph about it. He told me to go ahead, but he felt that getting swimming pools for free was a little out of his league. I started praying just the same. Less than 48 hours later my sister called and told me she knew someone who is giving away a swimming pool. She gave me the phone number and address. I called immediately and told them we would be out that evening to look at the pool. My husband went reluctantly because he felt that nothing would come of it. He was sure surprised! It was a 24 foot round, aluminum pool complete with pump and filter and deck. All we had to do was move it to our house. I asked the couple why they were giving it away. They said they had gotten it for their son who had needed it for therapy and now that he was grown and on his own they did not need it anymore. This was the end of June and they had been trying to give it away since April. Nobody wanted the pool. After we said that we would take it, several of the people called back saying they had changed their minds, but it was too late. It took a lot of hard work to set the pool up in our back yard. My husband jokingly complained to me, why didn't St. Joseph make it easier? I told him he said the pool had to be free, he did not say anything about it being easy!
St. Joseph's greatest gift to me was my youngest son, Joseph. I prayed to St. Joseph for him. After 5 miscarriages, I was not sure if I would ever have another child. I had two older sons, but deep down inside I wanted a daughter. I prayed to him for a healthy baby, stating if it was a boy I would name him Joseph. I spent 16 weeks in bed bleeding and praying. My Joseph is truly a miracle and a gift from St. Joseph. Just recently I had to have a complete hysterectomy and the doctor who performed the surgery told me, I was such a mess inside, it was indeed a miracle that I ever had another baby. Thank you St. Joseph!
While pregnant with Joseph, we realized we needed more room. Buying another house was out of the question, but building an addition was feasible. Once again my husband said he felt it was financially impossible. But when I said I was going to pray to St. Joseph, he just answered, "Let me know what He decides to do!" I only prayed for an addition on the back of the house, instead St. Joseph obtained for us an attached new two car garage, turning the old garage into two rooms. He found the means and money! St. Joseph always answers your prayers sometimes more spectacular than expected!
All of us have a special claim to Saint Joseph. He is the Patron of virgins, since he took a vow of perpetual virginty. He is the patron of married people because he was united by the bonds of matrimony to the most holy of women, Our Lady. He gave married people the example they need for a true and happy marriage. He is the patron of the fathers of families. All fathers should look to him since he was the Head of the Holy Family. He is the patron of working men. No has ever worked as hard as Saint Joseph. He earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. sanctifying that labor by doing it all for the love of God. He is the patron of all charged with the education of youth. He, who was charged with the duty of protecting and raising the Son of God, is a special patron of educators today. He is the patron of Religious. He is an excellent example of the active and comtemplative life, observing perfectly the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. There are many religious today who would profit greatly by imitating Saint Joseph. He is the patron of Priests. He was the first of all men to hold in his hands the Sacred Body of Jesus. He is the patron of those in positions of power and dignity. The Church sings of him, "God hath established him the lord of His house, and the master of all His possessions.' Finally he is the patron of sinners, the afflicted and the dying.
There are many ways of honoring Saint Joseph. I will briefly mention a few. We can honor him by imitating his virtues. On Wednesday, offer you mass intention in his honor. Speak of him often to others. I read a beautiful story concerning this practice. A priest was consoled at the hour of his death by Our Lady, who told him it was because of his practice of encouraging in his sermons devotion to her and her chaste spouse. Also St. Teresa of Avila was thanked by Our Lady for having reawakened devotion to St. Joseph throughout the Church. Place in your home, in a prominent place, a picture or statue of St. Joseph. Say a short prayer in his honor everyday. These are put a few of the ways you can honor Saint Joseph.
The following is a prayer I pray everyday to St. Joseph, entitled,
"Thirty Days' Prayer to St. Joseph,
In honor of the years he spent with
Jesus and Mary."
"Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow. Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection.
Listen, then I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers and obtain for me the favors I ask.
I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into_this world of sorrow.
I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the holy Virgin, nor a place where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave.
I as it by the loveliness and power of that sacred Name, Jesus, which you conferred on the adorable Infant.
I ask it by that painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.
I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother into Egypt. I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.
I ask it by all you care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country. I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows.
I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His Mother for three days. I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus. I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.
I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary. I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors.
I ask it through Mary's glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you share with her in the presence of God.
O good father! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask. (Here name your petitions or think of them)
Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. A blameless life, St. Joseph, may we lead, by you kind patronage from danger freed."
This prayer may be said during any 30 days of the year. For more information write:
The Josephites Priests & Brothers
1130 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
1 Leon Christiani, Derby, N.Y.: St. Paul Publications, 1967) p. 80
2 Ibid., p. 81
3 Ibid., p. 85
4 Ibid., p. 89-90
5 Edward Healy Thompson, M.A., (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1980) p. 451-_452
6 Ibid., p. 461
7 Saint Teresa of Avila, (Garden_City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1960) p. 93
8 Ibid., p. 94
9 Ibid., p. 317-318
10 Christiani, op.cit., p143
11 Ibid., p. 145
12 Father Pere Binet S.J., (South Bend, IN: Marian Publications, 1973) p. 113-114
13 Thompson, op.cit., p.470-471
14 Ibid., p. 472
16 Ibid., p. 472-473
17 Ibid., p. 474
18 Christiani, op.cit., p. 154
19 Thompson, op.cit., p. 480-481
20 Ibid., p. 483-484
21 Venerable Mary of Agreda, (Washington, N.J.: Ave Maria Institute, 1971) p.153-154
22 Ibid., p.160
The Father of Jesus by Leon Christiani, St. Paul Publications, Derby, N.Y., 1976
The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A., Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, IL 1980
St. Joseph, Fatima and Fatherhood by Msgr. Joseph A. Cirrincione with Thomas A. Nelson. Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, IL 1989
City of God by Venerable Mother Mary Agreda. Ave Maria Institute, Washington, NJ 1971
Divine Favors Granted to St. Joseph by Father Pere Binet S.J. Marian Publications, South Bend, IN 1973