March 19, May 1
Patron of the Universal Church
We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).
Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.
We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).
We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).
We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)
We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.
Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.
There is much we wish we could know about Joseph -- where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -- "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).In His Footsteps:
Joseph was foster father to Jesus. There are many children separated from families and parents who need foster parents. Please consider contacting your local Catholic Charities or Division of Family Services about becoming a foster parent.Prayer:
Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. AmenAmerican Catholic:
The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a “just” man. The quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.
When the Bible speaks of God “justifying” someone, it means that God, the all-holy or “righteous” One, so transforms a person that the individual shares somehow in God’s own holiness, and hence it is really “right” for God to love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are not.
By saying Joseph was “just,” the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.
The rest we can easily surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they shared during their marriage.
It is no contradiction of Joseph’s manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this “quietly” because he was “a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame” (Matthew 1:19).
The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God—in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage.
The Bible tells us nothing of Joseph in the years after the return to Nazareth except the incident of finding Jesus in the Temple (see Luke 2:41–51). Perhaps this can be taken to mean that God wants us to realize that the holiest family was like every other family, that the circumstances of life for the holiest family were like those of every family, so that when Jesus’ mysterious nature began to appear, people couldn’t believe that he came from such humble beginnings: “Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary...?” (Matthew 13:55a). It was almost as indignant as “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46b).
“He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord’” (St. Bernardine of Siena).
Patron Saint of:
SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AND FOSTER FATHER OF JESUS:
Feast: March 19
The glorious St. Joseph was lineally descended from the greatest kings of the tribe of Judah, and from the most illustrious of the ancient patriarchs; but his true glory consisted in his humility and virtue. The history of his life hath not been written by men; but his principal actions are recorded by the Holy Ghost himself God entrusted him with the education of his divine Son, manifested in the flesh. In this view he was espoused to the Virgin Mary. It is an evident mistake of some writers, that by a former wife he was the father of St. James the Less, and of the rest who are styled in the gospels the brothers of our Lord; for these were only cousin-germans to Christ, the sons of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin, wife of Alphaeus, who was living at the time of our Redeemer's crucifixion.
St. Jerome assures us that St. Joseph always preserved his virgin chastity; and it is of faith that nothing contrary thereto ever took place with regard to his chaste spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was given her by heaven to be the protector of her chastity, to secure her from calumnies in the birth of the Son of God, and to assist her in his education, and in her journeys, fatigues, and persecutions. How great was the purity and sanctity of him who was chosen the guardian of the most spotless Virgin!
This holy man seems, for a considerable time, to have been unacquainted that the great mystery of the Incarnation had been wrought in her by the Holy Ghost. Conscious, therefore, of his own chaste behaviour towards her, it could, not but raise a great concern in his breast to find that, notwithstanding the sanctity of her deportment, yet he might be well assured that she was with child. But being , as the scripture calls him, and consequently possessed of all virtues, especially of charity and mildness towards his neighbour, he was determined to leave her privately, without either condemning or accusing her, committing the whole cause to God.
These, his perfect dispositions, were so acceptable to God, the lover of justice, charity, and peace, that before he put his design into execution he sent an angel from heaven, not to reprehend anything in his holy conduct, but to dissipate all his doubts and fears, by revealing to him this adorable mystery. How happy should we be if we were as tender in all that regards the reputation of our neighbor; as free from entertaining any injurious thought or suspicion, whatever certainty our conjectures or our senses may seem to rely on; and as guarded in our tongue!
We commit these faults only because in our hearts we are devoid of that true charity and simplicity, whereof St. Joseph sets us so eminent an example on this occasion.
In the next place we may admire in secret contemplation with what devotion, respect, and tenderness he beheld and adored the first of all men, the new-born Saviour of the world, and with what fidelity he acquitted himself of his double charge, the education of Jesus and the guardianship of his blessed mother. "He was truly the faithful and prudent servant," says St. Bernard "whom our Lord appointed the master of his household, the comfort and support of his mother, his foster-father, and most faithful co-operator in the execution of his deepest counsels on earth."
"What a happiness," says the same Father, "not only to see Jesus Christ, but also to hear him: to carry him in his arms, to lead him from place to place, to embrace and caress him, to feed him, and to be privy to all the great secrets which were concealed from the princes of this world!"
"O astonishing elevation! O unparalleled dignity!" cries out the pious Gerson, in a devout address to St. Joseph, "that the mother of God, queen of heaven, should call you her lord; that God himself, made man, should call you father, and obey your commands. O glorious Triad on earth, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, how dear a family to the glorious Trinity in heaven, Father, Son,, and Holy Ghost! Nothing is on earth so great, so good, so excellent."
Amidst these extraordinary graces, what more wonderful than his humility! He conceals his privileges, lives as the most obscure of men, publishes nothing of God's great mysteries, makes no further inquiries into them, leaving it to God to manifest them at his own time, seeks to fulfil the order of providence in his regard without interfering with anything but what concerns himself. Though descended from the royal family which had long been in the possession of the throne of Judea, he is content with his condition, that of a mechanic or handicraftsman, and makes it his business, by labouring in it, to maintain himself, his spouse, and the divine Child.
We should be ungrateful to this great saint if we did not remember that it is to him, as the instrument under God, that we are indebted for the preservation of the infant Jesus from Herod's jealousy and malice, manifested in the slaughter of the Innocents. An angel appearing to him in his sleep bade him arise, take the child Jesus, and fly with him into Egypt, and remain there till he should again have notice from him to return. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed Joseph to many inconveniences and sufferings in so long a journey, with a little babe and a tender virgin, the greater part of the way being through deserts and among strangers; yet he alleges no excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return.
St. Chrysostom observes that God treats thus all his servants, sending them frequent trials to clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing seasons of consolation.4 "Joseph," says he, "is anxious on seeing the Virgin with child; an angel removes that fear; he rejoices at the child's birth, but a great fear succeeds; the furious king seeks to destroy the child, and the whole city is in an uproar to take away his life. This is followed by another joy- the adoration of the Magi; a new sorrow then arises; he is ordered to fly into a foreign unknown country, without help or acquaintance."
It is the opinion of the Fathers that upon their entering Egypt, at the presence of the child Jesus all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of their gods trembled, and in many places fell to the ground, according to that of Isaiah xix.:
After the death of King Herod, which was notified to St. Joseph by a vision, God ordered him to return with the child and his mother into the land of Israel, which our saint readily obeyed. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus succeeded Herod in that part of the country, apprehensive he might be infected with his father's vices- cruelty and ambition-he feared on that account to settle there, as he would otherwise probably have done, for the more commodious education of the child. And therefore, being directed by God in another vision, he retired into the dominions of his brother Herod Antipas, in Galilee, to his former habitation in Nazareth, where the wonderful occurrences of our Lord's birth were less known.
St. Joseph being a strict observer of the Mosaic law, in conformity to its direction annually repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. Archelaus being banished by Augustus and Judea made a Roman province, he had now nothing more to fear at Jerusalem. Our Saviour being advanced to the twelfth year of his age, accompanied his parents thither; who, having performed the usual ceremonies of the feast, were now returning with many of their neighbours and acquaintances towards Galilee, and, never doubting but that Jesus had joined himself with some of the company, they travelled on for a whole day's journey without further inquiry after him before they discovered that he was not with them.
But when night came on, and they could hear no tidings of him among their kindred and acquaintance, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost speed to Jerusalem; where, after an anxious search of three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the learned doctors of the law, hearing them discourse, and asking them such questions as raised the admiration of all that heard him, and made them astonished at the ripeness of his understanding: nor were his parents less surprised on this occasion.
And when his mother told him with what grief and earnestness they had sought him, and to express her sorrow for that, though short, privation of his presence, said to him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I sought thee in great affliction of mind": she received for answer that, being the Messias and Son of God, sent by his Father into the world in order to redeem it, he must be about his Father's business, the same for which he had been sent into the world; and therefore that it was most likely for them to find him in his Father's house: intimating that his appearing in public on this occasion was to advance his Father's honour, and to prepare the princes of the Jews to receive him for the Messias; pointing out to them from the prophets the time of his coming.
But though in thus staying in the temple, unknown to his parents, he did something without their leave, in obedience to his heavenly Father, yet in all other things he was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, and there living in all dutiful subjection to them.
As no further mention is made of St. Joseph, he must have died before the marriage of Cana and the beginning of our divine Saviour's ministry. We cannot doubt but he had the happiness of Jesus and Mary attending at his death, praying by him, assisting and comforting him in his last moments: whence he is particularly invoked for the great grace of a happy death, and the spiritual presence of Jesus in that tremendous hour.
The church reads the history of the Patriarch Joseph on his festival, who was styled the saviour of Egypt, which he delivered from perishing by famine; and was appointed the faithful master of the household of Potiphar, and of that of Pharaoh and his kingdom. But our great saint was chosen by God the saviour of the life of him who was the true Saviour of the souls of men, rescuing him from the tyranny of Herod.
He is now glorified in heaven, as the guardian and keeper of his Lord on earth. As Pharaoh said to the Egyptians in their distress, "Go to Joseph"; so may we confidently address ourselves to the mediation of him, to whom God, made man, was subject and obedient on earth.
The devout Gerson expressed the warmest devotion to St. Joseph, which he endeavoured by letters and sermons to promote. He composed an office in his honour, and wrote his life in twelve poems, called Josephina. He enlarges on all the circumstances of his life by pious affections and meditations.
St. Teresa chose him the chief patron of her order. In the sixth chapter of her life she writes thus: "I chose the glorious St. Joseph for my patron, and I commend myself in all things singularly to his intercession. I do not remember ever to have asked of God anything by him which I did not obtain. I never knew anyone who, by invoking him, did not advance exceedingly in virtue; for he assists in a wonderful manner all who address themselves to him."
St. Francis of Sales, throughout his whole nineteenth entertainment, extremely recommends devotion to him, and extols his merits, principally his virginity, humility, constancy, and courage. The Syrians and other eastern churches celebrate his festival on the 20th of July; the western church on the 19th of March.
Pope Gregory XV in 1621, and Urban VIII in 1642, commanded it to be kept a holiday of obligation.
The Life of St. Joseph
St. Joseph SQPN entry
Foster Father of Jesus
Novena to St. Joseph
St. Joseph Wiki entry
New St. Joseph movie
H/T: Archdiocese of Washington