Mirror of Patience, Lover of Poverty, Model of workmen, ornament of the domestic life, guardian of virgins, Pillar of families, Solace of the afflicted, hope of the sick, Patron of the dying, terror of demons, Protector of Holy Church--- who do all of these praises refer to? They all refer to the greatest saint in the catholic church—aside from Jesus and Mary, but related to both of them—the Glorious saint Joseph!
One of the greatest women in the church, Doctor of prayer, reformer of the Carmelites, and prolific writer, and marvel of a person, St. Teresa of Avila experienced a special love and protection from St. Joseph, as we read in her autobiography. She made three short but important observations on the power of St. Joseph. First, that St. Joseph never let her down; upon praying to him, he always obtained her request. Second, that St. Joseph acted promptly, quickly; whereas, others saints would delay—so to speak, take there time! Lastly, that St. Joseph is the universal patron! For example, St. Anthony, as we all have experienced, comes to the aid in “finding lost objects, or even finding a good “boyfriend”. Whereas St Joseph is the saint that can aid us in absolutely all of our necessities. St. Joseph hears, moves quickly, and in all occasions! Thanks Teresa for your insights!The Church honors Glorious Saint Joseph on two specific days of the year and indirectly in two other seasons. March 19th celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, under the title of “Husband of Mary”. May 1st, the commencement of the Month of Mary, honors St. Joseph the Worker. However, implicitly, Saint Joseph is honored in the Season of Advent as well as Christmas and the Christmas Season. The preparation for the birth of Jesus, the actual birth and the Infancy Narratives, St. Joseph plays a key role! In the economy of salvation, St. Joseph was chosen for a most sublime role!
Theologians teach, St Bernardine of Siena and St. Francis de Sales, that with the specific vocation that God gives to each individual, there is a corresponding grace sufficient to carry out the demands of that vocation. People married sacramentally are endowed with the grace to be good and faithful spouses, warm, loving and firm parents and humble and obedient children of God.
This being the case, St Joseph was called to the most sublime mission and vocation, really a double vocation, of being chosen to be the Spouse of Mary the Mother of God, as well as the Foster-Father of Jesus the Son of the Eternal Father. Exalted call that St. Joseph received, would be communicated super-abundant graces to carry out with the utmost faithfulness that mission—which indeed the Glorious Saint Joseph did do!There was only one perfect family on earth—not yours nor mine; rather it was the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph. Hence, Joseph was a key and pivotal person in this “Earthly Trinity”. How impressive and sanctifying and worthy of imitation the contemplation of the lives of Jesus, Mary and Glorious Saint Joseph! Therefore, let us outline the various “Titles” given to Saint Joseph, with the hope that you will get to know Joseph, pray to him, love him entrust your life to him and experience—like St. Teresa of Avila and many of the saints his powerful intercession.
First, MASTER OF THE INTERIOR LIFE. A title given to him by St Teresa herself. Meaning, that to grow in our interior life, our spiritual life, our intimate union with God, St. Joseph can play an indispensable role! A very interesting parallel is that the Catechism of the Catholic Church likewise gives another “Person” that same name: THE HOLY SPIRIT--- “Master of the interior life”. Hence, why not beg good St. Joseph for the grace to make huge strides in your interior life; he is waiting, ready and willing to grant you this excellent request!
Second, TEACHER OF PRAYER. Related to being the “Master of the Interior Life" is that of being the “Teacher of prayer”. Joseph acquired a most profound interior life of prayer and without a doubt lived the injunction of Jesus: “It is necessary to pray always, without losing heart. “ (Lk. 18:1). Prayers in the morning, prayers with Jesus before work, prayers before meals, prayers in the synagogue, prayers on the way to the Temple in caravan, prayers in family, the Psalms with Jesus and Mary, private and spontaneous prayer--- all of these were offered by good St. Joseph with fervor, humility and purity of intention. Mind-boggling, staggering the human imagination, ineffable and beyond words is the following: Joseph also taught Jesus to pray! In His Human nature Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and man. He learned to walk, eat, work, and speak. Therefore, it was both Mary and Joseph that taught Jesus human words by which he could speak to God the Father. “Abba”—meaning “Daddy” was most possibly one of the first words that St. Joseph taught Jesus so that he could begin to speak in human words to His Father and eventually teach the whole world to say, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
Third, PATRON OF SPOUSES (HUSBANDS). In a world in which unfaithfulness is rampant and rapidly spreading its evil poison and wreaking havoc on the family that should be the “Basic building block of society”, the “Domestic church”, St. Joseph teaches husbands the extreme importance of being faithful to their wives and living out the vows that they made on their wedding day before God, the church and before his spouse. “I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, health and in sickness, riches and poverty, until death do we part…” St. Joseph, help men to treasure and cherish their wives as the very “apple of their eye”.
Fourth, PATRON OF FATHERS. Equally important was the role that St. Joseph played as “Foster-Father” to Jesus, the “Son of the living God”. A true father should fulfill the test of the “Three (3) P’s!” What are the “3’P’s” Let’s see! First and foremost, Powerful-prayer warrior”. A true father, must have an intimate connection to the Heavenly Father. Actually, one of the primary roles of the earthly father is to reflect the love, compassion, presence, firmness and wisdom of the “Heavenly Father”. That mean, in concrete, that children should view the vision of God the Father reflected in their earthly father. No doubt a very challenging objective; that is why we turn to Joseph who reflected the loving presence of God the Father perfectly! May earthly fathers take good St. Joseph as their model! Also to provide for his family, as St. Joseph did by his constant and strenuous work. Finally, to protect the family from physical, moral, and spiritual dangers. Thus we admire, good St. Joseph, rising early and fleeing to Egypt, thereby, saving Jesus from being slaughtered by an insecure, jealous and bloodthirsty tyrant-- King Herod!
Fifth, PATRON OF WORKERS. As a result of Original Sin, all must work and earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. (Gen. 3). Tedious, boring at times, demanding to the point of exhausting, grinding—all of these can be notes of daily work! St. Joseph, went through it all! Up before dawn, opening the shop, starting with prayer, working from dawn till dusk—this would be the daily rhythm of Joseph as well as Jesus! Enough for the schedule, but what about the tenor of the work? Hard, demanding, exhausting manual work of a Carpenter! Pounding nails, sawing wood pieces, sanding down to size, lifting heavy furniture, Saint Joseph did it all! At the end of the day, most likely he arrived home sore to the point of exhaustion, drenched with sweat, hair filled with sawdust, hands engraved with deep callouses—this would be the “hard-working” and faithful worker, Saint Joseph! May we rediscover the importance of hard, dedicated, concentrated work! Idleness is the workshop of the devil! None of that in Joseph’s workshop! Rather, our attitude should be the sober but motivating words of St. Paul: “Work out our salvation in fear and trembling!”
Sixth, PATRON OF FAMILIES. Interconnected with Joseph’s role as spouse and “foster-father” is his pivotal importance, his hinge-work in the cohesiveness of “The Holy Family”. One practical point: the importance of the “Mere-presence” of Joseph to his family and the need of the father to be “present” to his family. Being present means, not simply physical presence—although this is key—but also emotional, moral, spiritual, psychological, joyful and concerned presence! Put simply, Good Saint Joseph was totally available to God at all times and at the same time, he was totally available for Mary and Jesus. Many families suffer due to”Drop-out Dads”. Either these “Dead-beat-Dads” have abandoned their families physically, have caved in to immorality such as drink porn or drugs, or prioritize friends, games and sports over the well-fare of their family! Not so with “The ornament of the Domestic life”, St. Joseph, his mere presence was total and all-encompassing. He was a cohesive glue that sustained the peace and unity and harmony of the “Holy Family.”
Seventh, TERROR OF DEMONS. A striking tribute to Glorious Saint Joseph. St. Ignatius Loyola, in the two Standards, depicts a striking contrast, Jesus raising His Standard and inviting all to follow; then Satan, ugly, in Babylon, the city of confusion seated on a dunghill! In our battle against “the enemy of our salvation” (St. Ignatius); the roaring lion, seeking to devour us (St. Peter), Satan or Prince of this world (Jesus), we must muster as much ammunition in our arsenal to defeat the devil. St. Joseph can run quickly to our aid. In the official Rite of Exorcism, the holy name of St. Joseph is invoked! At the mere name of Powerful Saint Joseph, the leagues of God’s enemies take to their heels and disappear!
Eighth, PATRON OF PURITY AND CHRISTIAN COURTSHIP. Indeed, the most important decision in ones’ life is both profession and even more important vocation. In other words, the work-profession one will choose, and of greater importance, the future spouse that will be chosen. Sad to say, most in the modern society, choose the wrong mate, in the wrong time, in the wrong place and with the wrong intention. This amounts to disaster! From 50 to 60% of marriages end in divorce today for this reason! Parents as well as young people should beg earnestly of good St. Joseph, who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be his spouse, to enlighten them as to who will be the future spouse. The primary condition and intention should be to choose somebody who will be a bridge to heaven, both for the spouse as well as for the future children. Once chosen a future partner, the grace of purity should be implored, so that both will avoid any impurity in their courtship, so that the wedding day will indeed reflect the beautiful, radiant and unsullied roses that will be placed before the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. St. Joseph, pray for our youth, for purity and moral integrity!
Ninth, PATRON OF THOSE IN TRIBULATION. Admirable to the highest degree, the great St. Joseph in his coping with and accepting trial after trial, due to this great Saint’s boundless and limitless confidence in God’s all-abiding and ever-present Providential Plan on him and his family. Contemplate these scenes: the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem with a pregnant woman mounted on a donkey, rejection—probably many times seeking for lodging for the night, “No room for you in the Inn", the birth in a poor, stinking, humid, abandoned animal refuge, a flight in the middle of the night to a foreign, alien, even hostile country where he had neither relatives, lodging, knowledge of the language, and finally losing his foster-Son for three interminable days--- these were among the many trials of St. Joseph. Instead of giving into despair, he humbly submitted his will to the will of Almighty God and God Himself, resolved problems that seemed almost impossible to resolve! May good Saint Joseph, strengthen our trust in God in the midst of life’s constant trials, tribulations, setbacks and failures! St. Joseph firmly believed: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall lack."
Tenth, PATRON OF A HOLY AND HAPPY DEATH. The most important moment of our lives is the moment of our death, in which this will determine for all eternity our destiny: either up or down, heaven or hell and with that for all eternity, meaning forever and ever and ever!!!!!! Good St. Joseph can come to our rescue in this all too critical moment in our earthly pilgrimage! Why? For the simple reason that St. Joseph had the all-important grace to die in the arms of both Jesus and Mary. When? We do not know! But, having died in the arms of Jesus and Mary should spur us on to desire most ardently to do the same! May St. Joseph obtain for us the grace to die in the state of grace and to die in the arms of Jesus, Mary—and yes—the loving arms of good Saint Joseph!Let us end by commending ourselves to Glorious Saint Joseph in this short, poetic but beautiful prayer. “ Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, make my heart like unto thine; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony; Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I breath forth my soul unto thee! O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all-thanksgiving, be every moment thine!”