of Taking St. Joseph
as a Special Patron
It is in the interest of persons in every condition and state of life to choose St. Joseph as their special Patron: virgins, those striving to live a devout spiritual life, Religious, laborers, married persons, those engaged in the instruction of youth, Priests, and even the most wretched of all – poor sinners.
Patron of Virgins
If, according to St. Cyprian, virgins are the most honorable, as well as the favorite portion of the family of Jesus Christ, it would naturally follow that this tender parent – St. Joseph – watches over them with a peculiar love and attention to their smallest needs. You then, Christian virgins, are those whom I would, in the very first place, exhort to make choice of the glorious St. Joseph as your loving father and strong protector, for to his care was entrusted the Divine innocence of the Infant Savior, and the integrity of the Queen of Virgins. The Virgin Mother of God found in St. Joseph a zealous defender of her Virginity against the poisonous blast of heresy, which strove to tarnish it. "He is my most zealous champion against those who question my virginity," said she to St. Bridget (Rev.) St. Francis de Sales assures us, that St. Joseph's purity surpassed that of the angels closest to God, for, as he says, if the material sun can perfect the dazzling whiteness of the lily in a just few days, who can conceive the wonderful degree of perfection to which St. Joseph's purity was raised, when it was exposed – not for a few days only – but for the space of thirty years, to the rays of the Sun of Justice and of the mystical Moon, Mary Most Holy, who received from that Sun all of her glory and splendor? Does not this, ye Christian virgins, teach you to appreciate the power of the great patron, to whom I now recommend you? Imitate the young Catholic maidens of former times, who were accustomed to make an annual offering of a beautiful bouquet of lilies, which are considered to be the emblems of purity, to St. Joseph, in order to obtain through his prayers the grace to be preserved from whatever might in the least endanger that precious treasure.
A Spiritual Guardian
And all you who are anxious to lead an interior life, do you seek a prudent guide, an enlightened spiritual father? Place yourselves with perfect confidence under the direction of a saint who, even during his mortal life, enjoyed like the angels themselves, the most intimate communication with God in holy prayer and contemplation, according to the Divine Office (Hymn to St. Joseph). It is for this reason that retreat – houses are usually placed under the protection of St. Joseph; and likewise the great St. Theresa of Avila assures us, that never was there known a person truly devoted to St. Joseph, who did not make great progress in the spiritual life. It is a well-known fact, that the venerable Father Claudius de la Colombiere, and Father Louis Lallemant (member of the Society of Jesus and Novice Master to several generations of young Jesuits, including St. Isaac Jogues) were specially devoted to St. Joseph, and had chosen him as their model and patron, and attained through his intercession to a high degree of prayer and union with God. With the help of so powerful and zealous a friend, who may not hope to advance spiritually, and make new progress daily in the paths of perfection?
Patron of the Married and Pillar of Families
The world may be compared to a vast ocean, agitated by a tempest, and the most dangerous rock within its bosom is the marriage state, for scarcely a day passes on which we do not therein witness some new wreck; whence it follows, that those who are exposed to such a danger, would require a good pilot to conduct them safely into the heavenly port. Now, we can meet with no more experienced navigator than our glorious saint, who in accordance with the designs of God, lived in the state of holy marriage, and is a perfect model for those who desire their married life to be conducive both to their temporal and eternal welfare. Scripture informs us that the ancient patriarch Joseph brought down the benediction of Heaven not only on Putiphar's household, but also on Pharaoh's court and the entire kingdom of Egypt. This prosperity continued as long as the king followed the advice of Joseph, his prime-minister; but when, on the accession of a new sovereign, Joseph was dismissed from office, how changed was the scene! "A new king over Egypt that knew not Joseph." (Eccles. 1)
Does not this metaphor clearly indicate to all Christian families, that God will give a special blessing to those who duly honor the second Joseph, who is as superior to the former, as the substance is to the shadow? You then, heads of families, if you wish your children to be well brought up, if you wish to ensure peace in your married state, patience in tribulations, sufficient support and an adequate abode – in a word, if you desire that your household should be well regulated, and live in peace and tranquillity, place it under the protection of him whom God has constituted Head of the Holy Family: "Quem constituit Dominus super familiam suam." Let Joseph be your counselor, your steward, your example; God Himself has appointed him such for those who are engaged in the married state.
Patron of Religious
The motives which should induce Religious to choose St. Joseph for their patron, are not less urgent than those which oblige the laity to do so. And in truth, no example stands forth with greater lustre than that of St. Joseph, as a perfect exemplar of all the virtues to which religious persons are bound by vow, and as an excellent master of holy Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. The humble homestead of Nazareth furnishes a complete model of the monastic or common life, and a living rule of the active and contemplative. Many religious houses, as we can prove by authentic facts, have experienced the efficacy of St. Joseph's protection, either when in need of new vocations, or in time of scarcity. Religious houses will be always dear to a saint who sees in them a living re-enactment of the life which Jesus led during thirty years at Nazareth, in obscurity, and under the yoke of obedience.
Model of All Who Labor
St. Joseph exercised the trade of a carpenter, according to the opinion of the Holy Fathers: he is therefore considered not only as the patron of all the members of that profession, but likewise of artisans in general, who should take him as a model of all the virtues which should adorn their state of life. Whom will they find more holy than him, whom the Son of God was pleased to call by the endearing name of father? Let them reflect for a moment on the manner in which he sanctified his laborious occupations. He lived a life of faith, and therefore the love of riches and a thirst for gain held no sway in his heart; he deemed his labor sufficiently repaid, when they procured him the means of providing for his family. What admirable honesty and integrity he displays in all his dealings! How indefatigably assiduous at his work, but yet without for an instant losing sight of Jesus, his Divine Pupil; like the angels who, while watching over us with the tenderest vigilance, cease not to contemplate that infinite and adorable Being, in Whom all their beatitude consists! Ah! if all those who labor, and thus imitate the honorable actions to which St. Joseph devoted his time when on earth, would only learn from him the precious art of uniting prayer with labor, they would derive a twofold benefit; for a blessing would accompany their exertions, even in this life, and a happy eternity would be their reward, exceedingly great, in the life to come. All of those devoted to toil then, have a particular claim on his protection, which they should daily invoke for themselves and their families, and strive to merit his loving care by a faithful exercise of the virtues of their state, of which he has given them so illustrious an example.
Diligent Protector of the Divine Child
Those who are charged with the instruction and education of youth, are particularly called upon to choose St. Joseph as their guide and patron in the fulfillment of a duty so necessary to Religion; since having been the master and guardian of the Most High, he has received from Him peculiar graces and favors for the protection of youth. The young Tobias had an angel as his guardian, but Jesus would have no other guardian than St. Joseph. Hence, many Religious Orders and Catholic educational institutions have placed their schools, especially those for young children, under the special protection of St. Joseph. The interpreters of Scripture and ecclesiastical writers, have given him various names, as those of father, foster-father, guardian, guide of Jesus Christ. All these functions which he fulfilled towards an Infant-God, he still continues to exercise in favor of those seminaries and academies which are entrusted to his paternal vigilance. Superiors and teachers may learn of him the charity, prudence, vigilance, and the other virtues, requisite for governing well. On their side, likewise, the pupils may receive from the Child Jesus the most perfect examples of docility, respect, and love, towards their teachers, parents, and superiors.
Model of the Clergy
Our saint may also be considered the model and patron of prelates, and of all ecclesiatics in general. Priests of the Most High God, though unworthy, often touch the Body of Jesus Christ with their consecrated hands. It is only fitting, therefore, that they should singularly love and venerate St. Joseph, who has gone before them in this striking privilege. As the representative of the entire human race in general, and of the ministers of the altar in particular, St. Joseph was the first after Mary to receive the Divine Redeemer into his arms, and who offered up to the Eternal Father, at the Circumcision of the Divine Infant, the first sprinklings of that Most Precious Blood which was afterwards so profusely shed on Calvary, to wash away the sins of the world, and which is daily offered by the hands of God's sacred ministers for the living and the dead. The real presence of Jesus upon our altars should inspire us with the same sentiments with which St. Joseph was animated on beholding Him, a helpless little babe, lying on straw in the manger. We see the God of all glory, the Glorious Conqueror of sin and death, the joy of the angels, the beauty and the bliss of Paradise, not concealed beneath the humiliating garb of human nature as He appeared when on Earth, not in the effulgence of His glorified Humanity as He now appears in Heaven, but disguised beneath the Sacramental veil, to which His own infinite love has reduced Him. As the clergy bear Our Lord through streets and towns, it is to their advantage to conform their interior sentiments to those of holy Joseph. With what piety, love, and reverence did he carry his Infant Savior into Egypt! And yet, faith tells us, that the dignity of the priesthood is greater still than that with which Joseph was invested!
O glorious saint! Jesus was subject to thee in all things; He now obeys the voice of the priest, whoever he may be! Whilst He reposed like a gentle lamb in the crib, thou didst present Him to the shepherds, that they might adore Him; and the priest offers up to the Eternal Father the flesh and blood of the Lamb that was slain, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Thou didst nourish Jesus with that bread which was necessary to sustain His mortal existence; but the priest nourishes faithful souls with an incorruptible food, even Jesus Christ Himself, under the appearance of bread, that he who eats thereof with faith and love, may live for ever. Happy saint! Thou wast permitted to caress, and receive in return the caresses of the Divine Child; but yet the priest need not envy thee, nor even the laity themselves, for do they not often enjoy the inestimable happiness of receiving Jesus Himself as their food?
But that which should principally excite our admiration and holy envy, is that admirable purity of heart, by which St. Joseph was habitually disposed to receive new stores of grace and sanctity. Jesus was his treasure. From the hands of Jesus he received the grace of performing all his actions for Him alone; the eyes of Jesus so enlightened his mind, as to enable him to understand perfectly the Divine Mysteries; the flames of Divine Love which issued from the adorable Heart of Jesus, consumed him with the most lively and ardent charity, with love of God and compassion for men. In order to produce similar effects in our souls, our Blessed Lord has delivered Himself unreservedly into the hands of the priests of the Most High God. Let us earnestly implore St. Joseph for all those graces of which our clergy stand in need, in order that they may be worthy ministers of a Sacrament which he never enjoyed the privilege of administering or receiving.
Solace of the Wretched
But the wish nearest to my heart is, that all unfortunate sinners would have recourse to St. Joseph, that he may swiftly raise them up from the abyss into which they have fallen; let them call upon him with the same vehemence and ardor, as they doubtless would cry for help on accidentally falling into a dark pit. The patriarch Joseph of old, a prefigurement of our saint, possessed a tender and compassionate heart. He could not refrain from weeping when he beheld his brethren stricken with horror, remorse, and anguish, at the recollection of the fratricide they had committed. And yet the tenderness and compassion of the second Joseph will do even more; he will draw tears of sincere contrition from the eyes of unhappy sinners.
If the Virgin Mary be the Refuge of Sinners, St. Joseph is also their refuge, to a lesser degree, on the same grounds. It was compassion for sinners that brought the Son of God down from Heaven. "O felix culpa!-O happy fault!" exclaims the Church in the Exsultet on Holy Saturday. Had this not been the case, would Mary have been the Mother, and Joseph the guardian and adopted father of Jesus? In Jesus only can true and solid happiness be found, even on earth; Joseph knew this well; he also knows that the sinner's misery springs from the misfortune of having lost Jesus! Joseph himself experienced that grievous torment; his anguish was great on that occasion, though the loss of Jesus was certainly without any fault of his own. He can, therefore, more feelingly sympathize with poor sinners, he is more alive to the misery of their condition, and consequently a more strenuous advocate in their behalf: in the company of Mary he will conduct them to the Temple where, after three days' careful research and heartfelt grief, they will have the happiness of finding Him! "If you seek Him, you will find Him with Joseph and Mary," says Origen. Alas! my brethren, we are all sinners; let us, therefore, go with confidence to Joseph, and let us address him in the words of those Gentiles who, desirous of being presented to Our Lord, said to the apostle St. Philip: "We wish to see Jesus." Ah, most powerful and compassionate father! do bring us to Jesus; it is by thee that we would be introduced into His Divine Presence: rebels and sinners that we are, we have not the courage to present ourselves; but we now appeal to thy goodness in the words of the Egyptians to thy representative of old: "Our salvation is in thy hands." It is our firm conviction, that in virtue of the authority which thou didst exercise over Jesus here below, we shall the more easily be restored to His grace and friendship.
The invitation which the learned and pious Gerson once gave a distinguished Catholic duke, we can now address to all Christians in general, as an appropriate conclusion to this reflection: " My lord," said he, "take St. Joseph for your special patron, your most powerful mediator, and best friend." Beloved brethren in Christ, by your love for Jesus and Mary, by your respect and attachment for your Holy Mother the Church, and by that yearning after happiness which nothing merely transitory can ever satisfy – choose St. Joseph for your protector, advocate and friend! Remember that before long you must make your exit from this scene. Be not so foolish as to neglect to gain the favor, while time yet remains, with one who is considered the particular patron of Christians in the hour of their death.
Back to Top
Back to Saints
Visit also: www.marienfried.com