Today we celebrate one of my favorite saints – St. Joseph. I have always had a devotion to him since my middle name is Joseph, and for Italians, he is one of the big saints we celebrate. It’s funny that most Italians think he is Italian because of the pastries that are made in his honor and name. It’s been told to me that the Poles also think he is Polish and honor him as the Italians do. In reality, St. Joseph, as we should know, was a faithful and practicing Jewish man. He is the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus Christ. All we know of St. Joseph is what we read about him in the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels. From the small excerpts in the Gospels, we read how much he loved both Mary and Jesus and he would protect them from the enemies that threatened their lives.
The two words that come to mind when I think of St. Joseph are – FAITH and OBEDIENCE. Not only was he faithful to Mary, but his faith in God was of astronomical proportions. When the angel of Gabriel appeared to him in the dreams and told him to take Mary as his wife and to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, he woke up and did exactly that. We should all look to St. Joseph for the great examples of Faith and Obedience. As men, we should want to be St. Joseph and women should look towards their men or for a man that wants to be like St. Joseph.
When I was in graduate school, I read the book, Joseph of Nazareth by Federico Suarez (he also has book named Mary of Nazareth). Federico Suarez was a priest in Opus Dei. The book is not a theological treatise on St. Joseph, but a text of reflections revealed from Revelation. I picked up both of these books (for spiritual reading) in a used bookstore in Steubenville, Ohio. Many people have never heard of the book so below are excerpts that speak about St. Joseph. I hope you enjoy some of these powerful quotes from Federico Suarez on the Patron of the Universal Church.
“His figure could, in a certain sense then, appear to the eyes or in the estimation of some as that of the man-in-the-street, so ordinary that little could usefully be said of him to those who would come after.”
“…words of Mgr J. Escriva: “He did exactly what Our Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as ‘a just man’ (Matt 1:19).””
“The words of Isaiah (30:15) could well be applied to Joseph: “in silentio et in spe erit fortitudo vestra”, in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
“Joseph love Our Lady, not with a brotherly love but with a pure conjugal love. It was so deep that any carnal relation was made totally superfluous. So refined was it that he became not only a witness of Mary’s virginal purity – virgin before birth, in birth and after birth as the Church teaches – but he became its custodian.”
“He was there to be of service to Him and to his Mother, to be at their beck and call. He took his responsibility so seriously that he was never far from them.”
“So Joseph, although he was not a priest, was the first to offer to God a holy and perfect sacrifice, the Word become incarnate in the womb of Mary, his spouse, an offering of infinite value such as the world had never seen.”
In regards to obedience…”The best sort of obedience is this”, says St. John Chrysostom: “not to start searching around in quest of reasons for doing what we are asked to do, but simply to do it.”
“Jesus did not deny the title “father” which Mary had given to Joseph. For biological fatherhood is not the only kind of fatherhood there is. And, indeed, it is often inferior in degree to other kinds.”
“He was the head of a family and a poor man. As head of a family, the responsibility of maintaining his dependents properly fell on him.”
“With Saint Joseph, the christian learns what it means to belong to God and fully to assume one’s place among men, sanctifying the world. Get to know Joseph and you will find Jesus. Talk to Joseph and you will find Mary, who always fills that attractive workshop in Nazareth with peace.”