If there is one individual who I have focused on a lot in my writing over the years, it is Saint Joseph. Including today’s post, the total is now at 10. Saint Joseph has always played an important role in my life. My middle name is Joseph, so from the beginning of my life he has been watching over me, he is one of saints I first learned about in my adolescence, and he remains a steadfast figure in my life today, most especially now as I prepare for marriage and fatherhood.
In the past, many of my posts about St. Joseph have focused on the writings on Pope St. John Paul and his words, but for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I am going to turn to the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI had a great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, most especially because his Baptismal name is Joseph (Josef).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, 19 March, is the Solemnity of St Joseph, but as it coincides with the Third Sunday of Lent, its liturgical celebration is postponed until tomorrow. However, the Marian context of the Angelus invites us to reflect today with veneration on the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s spouse and Patron of the universal Church.
I like to recall that beloved John Paul II was also very devoted to St Joseph, to whom he dedicated the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, Guardian of the Redeemer, and who surely experienced his assistance at the hour of death.
The figure of this great Saint, even though remaining somewhat hidden, is of fundamental importance in the history of salvation. Above all, as part of the tribe of Judah, he united Jesus to the Davidic lineage so that, fulfilling the promises regarding the Messiah, the Son of the Virgin Mary may truly be called the “son of David”.
The Gospel of Matthew highlights in a special way the Messianic prophecies which reached fulfilment through the role that Joseph played: the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (2: 1-6); his journey through Egypt, where the Holy Family took refuge (2: 13-15); the nickname, the “Nazarene” (2: 22-23).
In all of this he showed himself, like his spouse Mary, an authentic heir of Abraham’s faith: faith in God who guides the events of history according to his mysterious salvific plan. His greatness, like Mary’s, stands out even more because his mission was carried out in the humility and hiddenness of the house of Nazareth. Moreover, God himself, in the person of his Incarnate Son, chose this way and style of life – humility and hiddenness – in his earthly existence.
From the example of St. Joseph we all receive a strong invitation to carry out with fidelity, simplicity and modesty the task that Providence has entrusted to us. I think especially of fathers and mothers of families, and I pray that they will always be able to appreciate the beauty of a simple and industrious life, cultivating the conjugal relationship with care and fulfilling with enthusiasm the great and difficult educational mission.
To priests, who exercise a paternal role over Ecclesial Communities, may St Joseph help them love the Church with affection and complete dedication, and may he support consecrated persons in their joyous and faithful observance of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. May he protect workers throughout the world so that they contribute with their different professions to the progress of the whole of humanity, and may he help every Christian to fulfil God’s will with confidence and love, thereby cooperating in the fulfilment of the work of salvation.
Today, as I write and reflect on these words by Pope Benedict XVI, I find myself having a connection with St. Joseph like never before. As I stated previously, I am preparing to enter the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the coming months. The closeness I feel towards St. Joseph today is difficult to explain since it feels like the closeness I have with my father, even though he is nearly deceased for three years. As I sit in the adoration chapel here at the parish and write this post, I am also gazing up frequently to look at the St. Joseph statue.
Although it’s difficult to explain specifically why this year is different than in years past, I can tell you that some of the words from Benedict have penetrated my heart and have allowed me to see what I really need to do in my life as and soon-to-be husband and potential father.
As a man, who truly remained hidden in the house of Nazareth, St. Joseph still was the head of his household, courageously caring for Mary and Jesus, most notably when fleeing to Egypt. Like St. Joseph, I must remain steadfast and care for my future wife and any children the Lord blesses us with when we are married. In silence, I must learn that sometimes words are not needed, just my presence and the ability to have fortitude when challenges present themselves is enough. Being silent isn’t always easy for me since my secondary vocation is a teacher of sorts in a parish position that assists other adults in coming to know their Catholic faith. Learning to be more silent is a challenge for me, but to truly be like St. Joseph, I must learn to do so.
I pray this day that St. Joseph will allow me to be more like him – a man of faithfulness, obedience, steadfastness, courage, and silent strength.
For further readings on St. Joseph, I would encourage you to read posts from previous years:
Saint Joseph…Pray for Us