“ And when there also they began to be famished,
the people cried to Pharaoh for food. And he said to them:
‘Go to Joseph; and do all that he shall say to you.”
1. The Holy Family is the model of all family life; the reproduction of the life of the Holy Family among men is the surest guarantee of contentment and prosperity in this world and of happiness in the next; where nations are most happy there we find the closest resemblances to the Holy Family in the houses of their citizens; the fallacy of much modern legislation, of many modern tendencies, and of many more modern cravings, lies precisely in this ignoring and elimination of the spirit of the Holy Family from the home. And the head of the Holy Family is not the Child, nor the Mother, but St. Joseph. It is, then, no wonder that as the ages have advanced, as the struggle of Christianity has more and more converged round the defense of the family, the figure of St. Joseph should have emerged more and more from its natural place of retirement, and should have been set in the front of the battle-line, and that he should have become the patron of family life.
2. If we look into the secrets of this Holy Family, we cannot but be struck with the love which bound it together. “We shall know only in heaven what Joseph was to Mary and Mary to Joseph.” The initial material for affection that was in them both, the consecration to one another by the hand of God Himself, the sharing of the care of the Child Jesus, the companionship, faithful and unstinted, in many mutual sorrows and anxieties, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in pain,” the love returned to them both by the Child that stood between them, the trust He placed in them, the confidences He gave them, the kindness He received from them and returned in His own way, and on the other side the utter devotedness of the foster father, who had no thought for himself, but only for the charge entrusted to him, all these things compel us to the peace of that Holy Family, and to affection for Joseph its protector, who kept that house a house of joy, no matter what vicissitudes it had to undergo.
3. But of another phase of life is St. Joseph the patron, and that is its end. After the finding in the Temple we hear of him no more; when the public life begins, at Cana of Galilee, and at other places where his presence would seem to have been essential, he does not appear; the only conclusion is that some time during the 18 years of the hidden life he passed away. His work of protection was done; Jesus was now able to look to Himself and to provide for His Mother; then God took Joseph away. He had lived a perfect life, he had done a perfect work, in the doing of that work his own soul, unnoticed by himself so devoted was he to the others, had been made a perfect thing; the most perfect, the Church permits us to believe that the angels have ever carried to heaven. To him the end came; in the arms of Jesus and Mary he passed away, the most perfect of deaths, closing the most perfect of lives, a thing of sweetest agony, a thing of agonizing sweetness, as a truly happy death cannot but always be to those who know and have felt what is life and what is love.
Summary Meditation Points:
- The Holy Family is the model of family life, and St. Joseph is its head and patron.
- The secrets of the Holy Family, founded in love, extol the soul of St. Joseph evermore.
- St. Joseph, the patron of a happy life, is also the patron of a happy death.
Art: Detail of Saint Joseph from Mosaic of the Holy Family fascade, Church of the Holy Family in Linz, Upper Austria, 1911, artist unknown, Wolfgang Sauber, own work, 04.02.2008, CC-SA, Wikimedia Commons. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.
This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).
As well, this concludes our “Prince of Peace” series, which consisted of 30 Advent posts and 30 Christmas posts. If you missed any of them, or would like to review them, please click here for a listing of all the posts and their links.