St Joseph’s Life of Faith
Presence of God – In your school, O glorious St Joseph, I desire to learn how to live by faith, guided in all things by divine Providence.
The fundamental disposition of St Joseph’s soul was one of complete confidence and abandonment to God, which had its source in his faith. St. Matthew called him “a just man” (Matthew 1:19); now Sacred Scripture teaches that “the just man liveth by faith” (Rom 1:17), and it can well be affirmed that no creature, after the Blessed Virgin, has lived as much by faith as St. Joseph. In fact, having spent his whole life within the orbit of the mystery of the Incarnation, he necessarily had to pass through all the obscurities which surrounded the accomplishment of the great mystery. So Joseph needed deep faith, a faith continually nourished by suffering and tempered through anguish. The perplexity aroused in his mind by Mary’s mysterious maternity, the extreme poverty and anxieties connected with Bethlehem, the privations during the flight into Egypt, afflicted his sensitive soul to such an extent that in the most serious crises he needed the intervention of an angel, by whom he was sustained and introduced into the depths of the divine mystery unfolding before his eyes. Joseph allowed himself to be guided with the docility and blind confidence of a child. The Gospel relates four events which testify to this:
- An Angel put an end to his anguish by commanding him to take Mary as his Spouse, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Joseph did not hesitate a moment and did “as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Mt 1:20, 24).
- An Angel warned him to “take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt” (ibid. 2:13). Without delay, in the middle of the night, the Saint arose and carried out the order. Objectively the flight presented overwhelming difficulties: the great inconvenience and dangers of the journey, extreme poverty, exile in a strange land. But the Angel spoke and Joseph obeyed.
- After Herod’s death, an Angel ordered him to return into the land of Israel [ibid 2:19, 20].
- An Angel warned him to withdraw into Galilee (cf. ibid. 2:22, 23).
Here we have four acts of faith and blind obedience. Joseph neither hesitated nor reasoned; he made no objection; for he had complete trust in God; he believed in Him fully, in His Word, in His divine Providence.
“O St Joseph, how much I love you! How much good it does me to think of your humble, simple life! Like us, you lived by faith. I contemplate you in the little house at Nazareth, near Jesus and Mary, busy working for them. I see you using the plane, and then wiping your forehead from time to time, and hurrying to finish the work on time for your customers. Although you lived with the Son of God, your life was very ordinary, for Jesus certainly did not perform any useless miracles. Everything in your life was just as it is in ours. And how many sorrows, fatigues, and dangers! Oh! how astonished we should be if we knew all that you suffered!” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Counsels and Souvenirs, – Novissima Verba).
“I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of Angels during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to you, O glorious St Joseph, for the way you helped them. For this reason, it seems to me that those who practice prayer should have a special affection for you always.
“I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to you, for I have great experience of the blessings which you obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to you and render you particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for you give very real help to souls who commend themselves to you. I have clearly seen that your help has always been greater than I could have hoped for. I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of you which you failed to grant. The Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to you on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, you could command Him), just so in Heaven He still does all that you ask” (cf. Teresa of Jesus. Life, 6).
O dear St Joseph, I place myself, then, with full confidence under your protection. Teach me to live as you did, in faith and abandonment to God; teach me to live solely for Him, by consecrating myself entirely to His service.
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Art: St Joseph and the Christ Child, Guido Reni, 1638-40, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.