Skilled and Righteous and Deserving

Every illustration I’ve seen of St. Joseph displayed him as considerably older than his youthful teenage wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Often I’ve wondered just how much older he was. However, it doesn’t matter. He was the earthly spouse of the most beautiful and perfect woman ever born and the step-father of the most important man ever born. What else about him could be even a close second on the scale of importance?

Despite just those two all-important facts it took me a long time to really look at the man known as St. Joseph and I can’t explain why. I have always been (albeit for too many years vaguely) aware of him, mindful of his role at Jesus’ birth, and respectful of him, but was satisfied with that pittance of information I knew about him. That is in stark contrast to his wife and son. I can never get enough of learning about them so it should be with St. Joseph… and now is. His presence in the Holy Family was critical.

On closer examination as reported through the apostles in a conversation with Jesus on the Mount of Olives to say that St. Joseph was granted longevity is an understatement. Their written account states that Joseph was wise, skillful in the trade of carpentry, and a priest in the temple of the Lord. Although born in Bethlehem, he moved to Nazareth. Speculation is that may have been in order to earn a living. Before the Blessed Mother, he married and was blessed with four sons, Judas, Justus, James, and Simon, and two daughters, Assia and Lydia. To dispel my belief in the perpetual state of the Blessed Mother’s virginity my non-Catholic friends frequently quote Matthew 13:55-56 in which these children are mentioned but somehow completely overlook the possibility that he was a widower with six children when he met her.

The apostles report that the Blessed Mother’s parents offered her in the temple when she was three years old. As she grew, the priest recognized her holiness and that she was becoming of age so they convened in conference, wrote down the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the lot fell (i.e. by God) upon Joseph to care for her until she was of age to marry.  The apostles said on the Mount of Olives Jesus told them that when she was fourteen He chose her, with God’s approval, to be His mother. St. Joseph was working elsewhere when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother and when he returned home, much to his shock, discovered she was three months pregnant. Of course greatly distressed yet as painful as his discovery was he didn’t want to disgrace her and planned to quietly send her away.

It was written that it was at mid-day that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream and explained the predicament after which they were married. What a message to receive! And more than that, what a gentle, wise, immensely blessed mortal he must have been. Consider how the turmoil continued as they traveled, in his advanced age, from Nazareth to Bethlehem – for the census and where Jesus was born, from Bethlehem to Egypt – to escape Herod, and from Egypt back to Nazareth – when an angel told him it was safe to return. Three dreams directed him and must have been unnerving but he followed the instructions therein with what I believe was unquestioning confidence.

The Mount of Olives discussion lead by Jesus included a description of the end of St. Joseph’s life. It reported an aged but healthy man of one hundred and eleven, with vigor, good eyesight, teeth in good condition, free from pain, and a sound mind (without dementia or Alzheimer’s!). More than that, Jesus said that St. Joseph knew when death was imminent and that he was afraid and troubled so he went to the temple and prayed that God would send St. Michael to protect his soul! That he was afraid really surprised me, that he was able at one hundred and eleven to be near death yet able to get up and go to the temple amazed me. But as I continued to read, the account explained that sadness and fear are the fate of all souls at the time of death. After his fervent prayer to God it is said that he returned home, was seized by disease, kept to his bed and died as is the destiny of all mankind. Until that time St. Joseph had never experienced sickness. Jesus said He comforted him as St. Joseph confessed his terror; the Blessed Mother was also there along with some of St. Joseph’s children from his first marriage.

Thank you, St. Joseph, for living a life of honor, respect, virtue, and righteousness. Thank you for showing us how we should strive to live. Thank you for also saying “Yes” when you were commissioned to lead the Holy Family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to become better acquainted with your wholesome life.

The lessons of St. Joseph’s life are many and it is well worth the read to research his experiences. I have a deep debt of gratitude to the man who generously listened and answered my prayer to him during a depressingly terrifying period when my husband’s life teetered in the balance from lung cancer. The novena to him is called, “Prayer to St. Joseph over 1900 years old,” and when it is said nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire, is seldom known to fail. I can attest to the validity of that promise.

 “O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.”

Truthfully, when I first read the prayer I was reluctant to begin the novena after reading the last sentence. I was in great fear that it indicated weakness in the faith I had that my husband would live but quickly realized how ridiculous that was since the intercessory prayer would be presented to the Lord, God Almighty. And, He definitely knew it was life to its full that I sought for my spouse.

Later I discovered that in 1870 Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the patron of the Universal Church, unofficial patron against doubt and hesitation, patron of fighting communism, as well as patron of a happy death. St. Joseph is considered the model of believers who receive grace at the moment of death, he prays for families, fathers, expectant mothers, travelers, immigrants, craftsmen, engineers, and all working people. There are many prayers of petition to him for daily protection, vocation, happy marriages, and hopeless cases.

St. Joseph – A man for all seasons but one that especially should be at the forefront of our hearts along with his family during this Christmas season.

 

“Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.”    Matthew 1:19

 

{Thank you for spending some time with me. May God Bless you always.}

6 thoughts on “Skilled and Righteous and Deserving

  1. Interesting blog. I have not heard of this information about St. Joseph and would like to read more. Could you tell me in what book I can find this discussion on the Mount of Olives with this? He is indeed a much loved saint.
    Thank you.

  2. How I enjoyed reading this. It’s true I know so little of him yet he is so familiar . I appreciated gaining more information about him. Many thanks and GOd bless

    • Thank you so much. I really thought I had said that earlier…seems I am fast-forwarding more so than usual. I truly do appreciate your reading and commenting on the post, and I look forward to your next one as well. Have a Blessed week and may God Bless you and yours always.

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