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The Glories of Saint Joseph

In the Church year there are two great Feasts of Saint Joseph.  First on March 19th as Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the secondly on May 1st as Joseph the Worker.  This second Solemnity of Saint Joseph, which tragically has been relegated to an “Optional Memorial” in the New Rite, is yet a very recent Feast instituted in 1955 by Venerable Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) as a direct address to the Communist “Holiday”: “International Workers Day” or “May Day”.  In doing this our dear Holy Father of happy memory was harkening back to his predecessor the great Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) who had this to say of Saint Joseph:

“The noble of birth will learn from Joseph how to guard their dignity even in misfortune; the rich will understand, by his lessons, what are the goods most to be desired and won at the price of their labour. As to workmen, artisans, and persons of lesser degree, their recourse to Joseph is a special right, and his example is for their particular imitation. For Joseph, of royal blood, united by marriage to the greatest and holiest of women, reputed the father of the Son of God, passed his life in labour, and won by the toil of the artisan the needful support of his family. It is, then, true that the condition of the lowly has nothing shameful in it, and the work of the labourer is not only not dishonouring, but can, if virtue be joined to it, be singularly ennobled” 

 

“…recourse to force and struggles by seditious paths to obtain such ends [namely, wealth and a better material life] are madnesses which only aggravate the evil which they aim to suppress. Let the poor, then, if they would be wise, trust not to the promises of seditious men, but rather to the example and patronage of the Blessed Joseph, and to the maternal charity of the Church, which each day takes an increasing compassion on their lot.”

“…We see faith, the root of all the Christian virtues, lessening in many souls; we see charity growing cold; the young generation daily growing in depravity of morals and views; the Church of Jesus Christ attacked on every side by open force or by craft; a relentless war waged against the Sovereign Pontiff; and the very foundations of religion undermined with a boldness which waxes daily in intensity.” (Quamquam Pluries, 15 August 1889)

O let us pray to Saint Joseph!

 

Saint Joseph was the first and greatest devotee of Mary.  For indeed no human person has ever loved and been more devoted to Mary as was Saint Joseph, and no other being even surpasses him in this except his own foster son Jesus.

 

“Joseph knew, says the pious and learned Gerson, that he was the head of Mary, because the husband is the head of the wife. Nevertheless, his veneration for her was so profound that he considered himself unworthy to be her companion, or even to kiss the ground on which she had trod ; and he was always on the watch, to render her some service, albeit unrequested, even as might some most devoted servant rather than spouse. And then he loved her so exceedingly, with a love like what the heavenly spirits feel for each other, and would have readily given his heart’s blood for her : and as yet he knew not her incomparable dignity ! Yes, he loved her exceedingly, and we may hold for certain that Joseph, as he was the first, so was he the most devoted servant of Mary the most loving, the most faithful, the most assiduous, the most constant. He heads, we may say, the procession of her devout worshippers, the first to raise his banner in her honour, unrivalled in his loyalty and devotion, nay, distancing all her other pious clients with the rapidity of the eagle, the king of birds.” (The Glories of Saint Joseph, Ch. XXII – Life at Nazareth, Edward Healy Thompson M.A.)

 

Let us now turn to that great devotee of Mary: Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. He sings the praises of Saint Joseph in his 122nd Catechetical Hymn.  Read this with great attention for there is indeed much here to meditate upon and inspire us to become more devoted to Saint Joseph.

 

IN HONOR OF JOSEPH SPOUSE OF MARY

1. Let’s sing a hymn in honor
Of Saint Joseph, the protector
And humble spouse of Mary.
Lowly Joseph is little known,
No one on earth appreciates him,
But he ravishes the blessed.
May earth unite with heaven
And all proclaim his praises! (twice)


2. Great saint, you alone God found
To be the worthy spouse
Of his admirable Mother.
Spouse of the Queen of heaven,
This privilege is marvelous;
The witness of her holiness,
The guardian of her purity,
O incomparable glory!


3. The Eternal Father chose you
To nourish his Son on earth,
In fact, to be His vicar.
You have carried in your arms
The Child holding all things in His hand;
By a most special vocation
You have been the nurturer
Of your own Father.

4. Who would have seen Him caress you,
Smile at you, embrace you
With extraordinary love!
His smiles pierced your heart
Filling it with meekness.
All aflame by His love,
You told Him, in your turn:
My dear Son, I love you.


5. If a word of Mary was able
To sanctify, by its power,
Saint John with his mother,
What must have wrought in you
His words so meek and holy!
His talk surely ravished you,
And his presence filled you
With graces and with light.

 

6. How great your humility!
Humility prompted you
To keep silence,
To take the lowest place,
To live as a poor carpenter,
To appear ignorant,
Incapable, without talent,
Simple and unwise.

 

7. The more you humbled yourself
The more God has exalted you
Close to Him in glory.
Your merits are astounding,
Your privileges are great,
Heaven admires your splendor,
The world is full of your favors
Even in Purgatory.

 

8. No one ever prays to you in vain,
Your intercession is supreme
As Teresa herself confirms.
Your Son is the glorious God
Your Spouse, the Queen of heaven.
Praying, you command them;
If you ask, nothing is refused.
O power without measure!

 

9. SAINT JOSEPH:
Try to be the last in all things,
To hide yourself, and grow in love
Of Jesus and Mary!
Seek what the world rejects
And flee from what it pursues.
Let faith alone govern you,
In order to be happy with me
By imitating my life.

 

10. PRAYER:
Saint Joseph, be my patron
To obtain for me a great gift:
Divine Wisdom!
To glorify my Savior,
To convert sinners,
To help poor little ones,
To crush my enemies.
Love impels you.


GOD ALONE

What profound words indeed for us to consider.  What a great Saint indeed was Saint Joseph and how deserving he is of imitation, and in particular of his great devotion to our Lady.  And now to conclude let us look at the death of Saint Joseph to see how those who are most devoted to Jesus and His holy Mother are rewarded.  We will again look at an except from The Glories of Saint Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson…

That Jesus and Mary lovingly tended and comforted Joseph on his bed of death, there never has been doubt. Hence holy Joseph is considered by all Catholics as the tutelary saint of the dying, and is constantly invoked to obtain for them a happy death. St. Bernardine of Siena says that it is certainly to be piously believed that at the death of Joseph both Jesus and Mary were present. What consolations, illuminations, and revelations eternal good things must not the dying Saint have received from his holy spouse and from the most loving and compassionate Son of God, Christ Jesus!

“To know.” says the seraphic St. Leonard of Port Maurice, “that Joseph was truly great, as he was just, greater still as a spouse, and, above all, great as a father, it suffices to behold him in the arms of Jesus and Mary rendering up his soul to his Creator. See Joseph lying upon a poor pallet, Jesus on one side, Mary on the other, and, above, countless bands of angels, archangels, seraphim, all in readiness devoutly to receive this holy soul. O my God, who can ever tell the outpouring of affection at that last parting of Joseph from his sweet Jesus and Mary ! What thanks, what protestations, what supplications, what excuses, does this holy old man offer in his extremity! His eyes speak, his heart speaks, his tongue only is silent; but his very silence speaks.” (Panegir. di S. Giuseppe, n. x.)


Well, therefore, may Holy Church, contemplating Joseph dying, thus sing : “O happy beyond measure, blessed beyond measure, art thou, at whose side in thy last hour watched Jesus and Mary with aspect serene”. (Hymn for Lauds of the Feast of Saint Joseph) But the Lord willed to give to His dear father a signal favour for his consolation before the hour of his departure. While Joseph, supported by the tender hands of Jesus and Mary, lay on his poor couch in an ecstasy of love, lo ! he was raised to so sublime a rapture as to taste by anticipation the joys of the blessed in Heaven, and beheld the Divine Essence, the Face of God, His glory, which Moses in vain requested to see. (Ex. 33:18)  Maria d’Agreda says that this rapture lasted twenty-four hours.  That he should have had this marvellous favour conceded to him, which holy Doctors have believed was more than once, if not often, bestowed on Mary, is far from incredible. If we are to accept the revelations of saints, Joseph had frequently seen Jesus transfigured and invested with a glorious light, as the three Apostles afterwards beheld Him on Thabor. In thus manifesting Himself to them, one, at least, of our Saviour’s reasons seems to have been to prepare them to endure the sight of the ignominy and sufferings of His Passion. May not, then, this surpassing vision of the Face of God have been accorded to Joseph, not only as a reward for his parental care and love, to soften to him the pains of the last passage?

…And so this great saint patiently and happily expired, Michael and Gabriel bearing his pure and holy soul to the bosom of Abraham. Jesus closed his eyes with His own hand. The friends and near relations of the saint washed and anointed his body with precious ointments, according to the Jewish custom, and from amongst the multitude of angels in attendance the Lord commanded two to clothe him in a white robe. They remained reverently watching the body.

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