Please forgive me for not keeping up my posts for the Month of Saint Joseph! Our family has had some crosses to bear and it's put me behind. Please keep us in your prayers! Thank you and God bless you all!
"And Joseph arose, and took the Child and His Mother, and came into Israel."—Saint Matthew II: 12.
Here is another proof of Joseph's obedience. The Angel has spoken, and Joseph instantly complies with prompt and unquestioning obedience. Each word of the narrative corresponds to some part of the Angel's message. It is with the return as with the departure ; perfect conformity in the conduct of Joseph to the commands of the Angel. Surge. Qui consurgens. Arise. Joseph arises. --Accipe puerum et matrem ejus. Accepit puerum et matrem ejus. Take the Child and His Mother. He takes the Child and His Mother.--Vade in terrom Israel. Et venit in terram Israel. Go into the land of Israel And he goes to the land of Israel.
This last fact is recorded in few words,but the journey into Egypt was full of trouble and hardship. Few words suffice to record the latter fact, and yet if the Flight into Egypt was marked by pain and hardship, the Return must have been doubly so. Whether the Holy Family remained in Egypt for three or, as some say, seven years, so long a journey must have been equally trying to a child who, if but three years of age, was too feeble to walk and too heavy to be carried for any length of time, and who, if as old as seven, would still be incapable of traveling fast or far. Let us follow Joseph on this painful journey. His devotedness is inexhaustible, and his patience and serenity are equally so. Forgetful of self, he thinks only of the Mother and the Child: Accepit puerum et matrem ejus. The way was long, and seemed interminable, but it ends at last: Et venit in terram Israel.
If Joseph is the protector and patron of those who are in difficulty, he is also their example, for, having experienced all kinds of embarrassment, he knows how to compassionate. Let us then have recourse to him whenever we have obstacles to encounter or difficulties that appear insurmountable.
Quod possiibilitas nostra non obtinet. It is the Church herself who bids us, in such cases, have recourse to the Holy Patriarch. Following his example, let us persevere on our way, and our goal will be attained! In face of impossibilities, do what you can and God will do the rest.
22. The Chapel of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Two travelers from Paris, husband and wife, arrived at the Noviciate of the Little Sisters of the Poor at La Tour. They were deeply moved by the welcome they received and by the poverty that reigned in the House. The chapel struck them most forcibly ; it was too small even to hold the novices, but it contained a small statue of Saint Joseph, to whom the Sisters had recourse for the funds necessary to construct a more convenient edifice. The travelers had just paid their devotions at the shrine of the Saint, when one of them said to the other: " While kneeling here an idea has struck me." "And me also."—"We are rich."—"That is true,"—"We have no children."—"Alas ! none."—"What if we build on this spot a chapel in honour of Saint Joseph ? "—" The same thought has struck me." The idea was carried out, and at the present day, thanks to the generosity of M. and Mme. Feburier, the Little Sisters of La Tour possess a beautiful church.
"But when Herod was dead, behold an Angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the Child." —Saint Matthew it 19, 20.
Days, weeks, months, and years pass, and the expected Angel does not reappear. What if there has been some illusion! Will it not be wise to settle definitely in Egypt f Doubtless the Jews, then so numerous in that land, often said to Joseph: Follow our example; we, like you, have given up our country, and the holy city of David; like you, our hearts turn incessantly towards the Temple of our God; but, nevertheless, we have made our home in this friendly land.
Joseph lives on from day to day, relying on the Angels promise, and awaiting his return. Let us beware of clinging too fondly to any place, employment, or special occupation. Let us hold ourselves ready to quit all, so* soon as by the voice of an angel, visible or invisible—I mean, by the voice of a superior, by the force of circumstances, or by secret inspiration, we shall be called to another sphere and another work. You have conceived such and such a project, undertaken a certain work, embraced a certain state, cultivated a certain virtue, demanded a certain grace, impelled by an inspiration that you deemed divine. And now years have gone by and no light from on high has appeared, none of your hopes are realized. Your labours, your efforts, your prayers are fruitless; you begin to fear lest you have been the victim of an illusion or have taken for inspiration what was but a dream. Ah no, it was no dream! At the moment when you least expect it, and when, like a second Tobias, you look but for death, the promised grace will be bestowed, light will come, and the star shall shine for you as it shone for the Magi, the Angel will return and announce that Herod is no more, that the obstacle which has hitherto rendered your project futile has now disappeared. All that was foreshown you is accomplished.
Watchword.—Cease not work, success will come in God's good time.
"And Joseph remained in Egypt until the death of Herod."—Saint Matthew II. 15.
Another of those words which indicate more than appears at first sight. He was there: Erat ibi; but what was his position and how did he live? Picture to yourself a poor artisan all at once transported to a foreign land, where he knows no one, is known of none, is without means, tools, work, or home. Ah! what are the anxieties and inconveniences of Bethlehem compared with the cares and sufferings of Egypt? At Bethlehem they at least knew the extent of their sojourn, it was but for a few days; but of their stay in Egypt they know nought, neither can they even conjecture the duration of their exile. "Remain there," said the Angel, " until I return." In face of a future so uncertain, it is vain to think of any permanent abode; and yet, with all the inconveniences inseparable from a temporary sojourn, that sojourn will last for years.
Who can tell the sadness experienced by the Holy Family at sight of the idolatry of Egypt? In presence of this sorrow all the privations of exile grow pale and vanish. God ignored, God offended, souls lost, ah ! what grief to the heart of Jesus, and therefore to the hearts of Mary and Joseph also!
The Holy Family in Egypt is a type of the Church in the world. The Church is there: the Pope is there: Et erat ibi, always threatened by Herod and awaiting the tyrant's death: Usque ad obitum Herodis. Such, too, is the situation of those persons and societies who dedicate themselves to God's service. In the ages of faith they built for the future ; but now times are changed. A work is commenced, and tomorrow the breath of Revolution or a tyrant's caprice stays your projects or destroys your undertaking. Labour on in spite of this, and carry on the works God has inspired you to commence. But trust not to man, but depend on God alone.
Watchword,—Work, but be ready to quit it at the first intimation that such is God's will.
20. The Deserted Pilgrims.
Gecile Portaro and a few of her companions made a pilgrimage to Notre-Damede- Drepane, in Sicily. The boat which should have brought them back started without them, and they were left ashore, far from Palermo, and without shelter for the night. Great was the consternation of the little band. Cecile invoked Saint Joseph, and almost immediately, an old man and child arrived; the former, touched by the anxiety of the holy maidens, offered to show them the way, and the child took charge of their scanty baggage. "Good man," said Cecile, "surely Saint Joseph has sent you; but we have a long way to
go." "Where to?" replied the old man. "To Palermo, Rue Saint Joseph." " That is my street," rejoined the old man, and they continued their route. As soon as the little caravan had arrived at the place of their destination, the old man set down the luggage. The travelers turned round to thank him, but both old man and child had vanished, and Cecile felt sure they could be no others than Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus.
" Joseph arose, and took the Child and His Mother by night, and retired into Egypt."
— Saint Matthew II: 14.
Admire the promptitude and calmness of this act of obedience : Qui consurgens. The Angel has spoken, Joseph arises. He commands in as straightforward and simple a manner as he obeys—he uses no subterfuge with regard to many, but takes the Infant and His Mother: Accepit puerum et matrem ejus— and at once they set forth. Node; that very night, without objection, hesitation, or delay, the command of heaven is obeyed.
The world is surprised at the activity of the Saints, at the multiplicity of their works. Let us reflect on the time we lose in resisting the Divine inspirations, the orders of Providence, the claims of duty, and the rights of obedience. If we simply do what God wills, we shall find time for all. Remark the parallel in the words of the Angel and the conduct of Joseph. The acts of the latter respond word for word to the commands of the former. The Angel has spoken: "Arise," Surge, and Joseph arises: Qui consurgens. " Take the Child and His Mother," adds the Celestial Messenger, and Joseph takes the Child and His Mother. Accipe puerum et matrem ejus;— Accepit puerum et matrem ejus. Again, the
Angel continues: Flee into Egypt, and Joseph flees into Egypt. Fuge in Egyptum;— Secessit in Egyptum.
Let the rule of your conduct be the Word of God, whether manifested by the voice of those whom He has given you as Superiors, in the Church, in the family, in your own special sphere, in the rules of your profession, in the inspirations of grace, and the external leadings of Providence, and then your walk will be sure and firm, calm and rapid ; all difficulties will vanish, all obstacles disappear. Behold Saint Joseph, Secessit in Egyptum, he retires into Egypt The words are so short and simple that at first we dream not of the anxiety, pain, and peril of so long and sudden a journey. But God has spoken, God wills it, therefore nothing is difficult, nothing is impossible.
Watchword.—Before obedience all difficuties vanish.
19. The Shipweck and the Seven Paters and Aves.
Two Franciscans who had been shipwrecked were clinging to a fragment of timber, where for three days they remained between life and death. At last they re commended themselves to Saint Joseph and at once a majestic youth appeared and steered them to the shore. On landing the two religious threw themselves at the feet of their liberator, entreating him to reveal his name. "I am Joseph, whom
you invoked," replied he; "and if you wish to give me pleasure, let no day pass without reciting seven Paters and Aves, in memory of the seven joys and seven dolours of my earthly life." That said, he disappeared, leaving the two religious overwhelmed by gratitude and joy.
"Behold the Angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, laying: Arise and take the Child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt ; and be there until I shall tell thee : For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him. "—Saint Matthew II. 13.
But this is a dream ! And on the faith of a nocturnal vision which may prove to be only a delusion, will it be wise to heed the warning and take so strange a course ? This Child is God ! and must He have recourse to flight to escape a tyrant's rage! The vengeance of the angel's message renders the exile yet more appalling : Et esto ibi usque dum dicam tibi—remain in Egypt untill I tell thee to return. But if this vision be indeed from heaven, what a responsibility even then ! At this very moment, perchance, the tyrant's emissaries are at hand, ready to slay the Infant at His Mother's breast.
What step must be taken? Shall he regard the vision as but an idle dream, or at once incur the danger of a hasty flight ? Joseph is as superior to human reasonings as he is to trouble and alarm. In him faith is predominant ; but where shall I seek this calmness, so simple and sublime, free from the hesitation of doubt, unmoved by the storm of passion! Be attentive and obedient to the inspirations with which grace constantly prevents us, then shall we easily discern the true from the false, and neither be misled by vain reasoning nor by the fears of a restless mind.
Watchword.—Calmly obey the voice of Divine inspiration.
18. The Lucky Number.
A young man was about to draw for the conscription. On his way he entered a chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph— des Champs, near Laval. "You know," said he to the Saint, "how I dread military service; less on account of the hardships and dangers of war than because of the idleness and immorality of the barracks. Here is the number which I desire." Saying this he placed the number on the altar and went his way. At the moment of putting his hand into the urn he invoked Saint Joseph, and withdrew the very number he had named. He hastened to the sanctuary and returned heartfelt thanks to the Saint.
"And alter they had performed fill things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, into their city Nazareth."—Saint Luke II. 39.
Joseph and Mary leave their home only to accomplish the precept of the law; that duty fulfilled, they return to their solitude. Let us also love the calm and tranquillity of a retired life, and only appear in the world when duty or charity demand ; but when summoned by duty, let us accomplish with exactitude and fidelity all that charity, the glory of God, and the good of our neighbour require. So Mary and Joseph return to Nazareth, only when they have fully accomplished all that the law demanded : Et ut perficerent omnia secundum legem Domini. When we have effected any good,we are sometimes tempted to cling to the work that has succeeded so well, and to the persons whom we have benefited. Let us reject this illusion, and escape from the praise and thanks of men. Return to our hidden life, court oblivion, and remain in our retirement until called to quit it by the manifestation of the Divine will or the necessities of our neighbour.
Watchword.—To do good, and to annihilate self.
17. The Little Sisters of the Poor and Saint Joseph.
The Little Sisters of the Poor at Roanne owed 2000 francs. The time of payment was at hand, and the cash-box was still empty. True, they daily found sufficient food for their poor, but 2000 francs were not so easy to find. " Saint Joseph alone can rescue us," said the Sisters ; "let us commence a Novena." They do so, and deposit their request at the foot of the statue of their patron. Before the close of the Novena, the Superioress was sent for by a stranger who had been taken ill at the hotel. " Sister," said the lady, " have you a chamber to spare for me? "—" Madam," replied the sister, " we receive only poor old men ; but I can tell you of a house that will suit you much better than would ours."—" Sister," replied the stranger, " I you do not refuse alms ?"—" Theyare our only resource," answered the Superioress. The lady then took a purse and presented it to the sister, who, on opening it, was overwhelmed with gratitude to find that it contained just the 2000 francs for which they had petitioned Saint Joseph.
"And His father and mother were wondering at these things which were spoken concerning Him."—Saint Luke II. 33.
Yet again once more does the Holy Ghost recognize and indicate Saint Joseph as the adopted father of Jesus. Whence arises the surprise felt by Joseph and Mary at that which is spoken concerning Jesus?
Is it because of the great things foretold by Simeon and by Anna? No; they know that Jesus is indeed the Great One : Hic erit magnus' and when, in obeying God's command, they gave Him the name of Jesus, they knew that it was a name above all names. That which now seems to cause them wonder is beholding the hidden greatness of the Divine Child acknowledged and revealed by others. They admire and rejoice at the honour that accrues to Jesus. Let us not envy those who have the happiness to glorify God in a higher degree than ourselves. If you love Jesus and seek His glory, so that He is loved and glorified, whether by your efforts and your labours or by those of others, your joy will be the same.
It is not always those who serve Jesus most openly, by word or pen, who contribute most to His service and glory. Who dare assert that Simeon or Anna had done more for the glory of Jesus than did Mary? Or that Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, and Doctors have done and suffered more for Jesus than did His Blessed Mother ? You cannot sever the action of Joseph from that of Mary, for Joseph shared all the anxieties and cares of his spouse ; he it is who nurtured, protected, guided, and tended both the Mother and the Child.
Let us be content to leave brilliant words and deeds to those whom the Holy Ghost inspires. By your incessant desires, your upright, simple, and pure intentions, doing God's will in your respective spheres; one in the world and amid the embarrassment of business or of a family ; another in the solitude of the cloister, unknown to man and even to those by whom he is surrounded, feeling that what you are and what you do is of but little value, you may contribute to the glory of Jesus as much, and often more, than missionaries, bishops, preachers, doctors, and than Popes most eminent in word and deed.
Watchword.—Seek glory, but let it be the glory of Jesus.
16. Alms in Honour of Saint Joseph.
The community of La Misericorde, at Laval, found it necessary to erect some buildings, but funds were wanting. It was the month of March 1844. A Novena was made in honour of Saint Joseph, and a few days after the Superior of the Community, Mother Theresa, received from a lady at Rennes the sum of 7000 francs. The gift was accompanied by a letter stating that the idea of making the offering had entered her mind on Saint Joseph's Day.
" And when His parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law."—Saint Luke II 27.
His parents: Parentes ejus. Thus again does the Holy Ghost plainly recognize and indicate Saint Joseph as the adopted father of Jesus. What has he done to merit so signal a share in the work of the world's redemption? It is hinted at in the presentation. Many fancy that rank dispenses from the observance of the ordinary precepts of life, and greatness consists in imagining oneself superior to all rule. Joseph thinks otherwise. Here is a law that concerns not the Holy Trinity, for what purification can she need, who, as Virgin-Mother, sanctifies by her mere presence? What stain can she have contracted in conceiving in her chaste womb and in giving birth to the Holy One : Quod nascetur ex te sanctum, Joseph and Mary know but one law, and on the day appointed they present themselves in the temple to take part in a ceremony which, in the eyes of man, associates Mary with the ordinary mothers of the human race.
Prudence and dignity consists first of all in the simple, regular, and faithful observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, of the rules of our profession, and the duties of our state. Law, rule, such is the expression of God's will concerning us; and all our wisdom and all our virtue consists in conforming our intelligence and will to the Divine wisdom and goodness as manifested in the Law.
Watchword.—Live up to your rule, and you will live to God.
15. Growth of Devotion to Saint Joseph.
In the brief in which Pius IX. raised the Association of the Children of Saint Joseph into an Arch-Confraternity, the Holy Father speaks thus: " There is nothing we desire so much as to see a daily increase of devotion to Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin." A learned and pious religious of the sixteenth century, who, on the testimony of Benedict XIV., has written a most remarkable work on Saint Joseph, in his Somme expresses himself thus with regard to the gifts bestowed on Saint Joseph: " In Eastern countries the Holy Ghost has filled men's hearts with the desire of rendering great honour to Saint Joseph ; and we are sure that this devotion will obtain for us, by the merits and intercession of this glorious Patriarch, the withdrawal of many of the dangers by which the Church is assailed, and for the faithful an abundance of grace."
"And to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons."— Saint Luke II. 24.
Descendant of the kings of Judah, Joseph is reduced to the offering of the poor; but this causes him no shame, he esteems himself richer than the richest kings, richer than even David or Solomon in all their glory, for Joseph possesses Jesus. Though poor in this world's goods lie sees no disgrace in that. For himself, is not he the spouse of Mary and the adopted Father of Jesus? And Mary? she is the Mother of Jesus. And the Child ? That very Son of David, whose reign shall know no limit, no end, and whose throne shall be eternal!
What is there humiliating in poverty or glorious in riches? If I am poor it is either because I will it or God wills it, and this consciousness frees me from the fetters which turn man into a slave to gold. Shall I then blush at a poverty that assures me independence, liberty, nobility, and grandeur ! No, it shall not be thus. I will desire not only to be but to appear poor, for I wish to be like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Watchword.—Let your requirements be less each day.
14. Saint Joseph and Bossuet.
In 1657 Bossuet preached in Saint Joseph's honour a sermon so beautiful that he was called on to repeat it two years later in the presence of the Queen-mother. It was that sermon which has for text:
Depositum custodi. On the 19th of March 1661 Anne of Austria desired again to listen to the great orator, who, applying to Saint Joseph the words addressed to David when Samuel came to anoint him king of Israel, preached from this text: Quaesivit sibi Deus virum juxta cor suum—" God has sought for Himself a man after His own heart"
"And after the days of her purification according to the law of Motes were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord."—Saint Luke II. 22.
Here we have proof of Joseph's legal right over the Son of Mary. With Mary he shares the merit and honour of presenting the Infant Jesus to the Eternal Father. True, Jesus has no other Father than the One of Whom He will so often speak as "My Heavenly Father" or simply "My Father;" and yet Jesus belongs to Joseph. He who possesses the tree has a right to the fruit. The rights of Joseph over Mary ensure him equal rights over Jesus, and the Gospel shows us Joseph and Mary acting in concert, and both presenting the Infant Jesus. They carried Him: tulerunt; they presented Him: ut sisterent. It is not undesignedly that the sacred historian here employs the plural.
Let us learn to make good use of God's gifts. Joseph is associated with Mary in her rights over Jesus. Jesus belongs to Joseph even as He belongs to Mary. Like Mary and with Mary Joseph offers to God that which he has received from God. "According to the law: "secundum legem Moysi. . . . Now, not only the law of Moses, but the law of nature, the law of gratitude, and, I must add, the law of our own self-interest, all teach us the solemn obligation we are under of rendering God homage for the gifts received from Him.
Intelligence, will, health, strength, eye, ear, tongue, hand, soul and body, life, fortune, power, are all so many gifts, to be consecrated to the glory and service of God, of Him who is so liberal in the gifts bestowed on you now, and the glory with which He will reward the generosity of your offering.
Watchword—Offer to God all you are, all that you have.
13. Saint Joseph and France in the Seventeenth Century.
In 1661 Louis XIV., at the urgent entreaty of two queens, expressed by letters royal his desire that the Feast of Saint Joseph should be declared a Day of Obligation. The Bishops by their mandates, and the High Courts by their decrees, deferred to the royal wish, which was carried out on the 19th of March of the same year. Bossuet preached his second panegyric on Saint Joseph, and ended it by thanking the King for his desire to render increased honour to the memory of the Saint.
" And they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant Jesus lying in a manger."—Saint Luke 11:1. 16.
Contemplate Saint Joseph at the foot of the Crib. How unspeakable his bliss ! The Divine Child gazes smilingly at him, and one such look suffices to obliterate all anxiety. For Joseph, the past and future are effaced; he lives but in the present, and enjoys celestial peace. So in our lives there are times of extraordinary peace and joy, and the soul listens, breathes, enjoys, and possesses happiness in a manner so spiritual as to be inexpressible by human tongue. Such was the happiness of Saint Joseph in the presence of the new-born Jesus. He adores in silence, and his silence is one of awe. Is this the Word by Whom all things were created? by Whom all things subsist?
Silence of admiration! The Word is made Flesh, and we have beheld His glory! His birth reveals His love; angels have sung His greatness; the star announces His power; and ere long His words will reveal His wisdom and His deeds show forth His might.—Silence of joy! This stable, this crib, contain Him Who is the glory of heaven and of the heavenly hosts.
Silence of grief ! He has come to His own, and His own have received Him not. For the Son of David, for the Son of God, no place is found in Bethlehem! The heart needs but Jesus. In Him are all treasures, joys, and honours. Look at Mary and Joseph. Around them is nought but poverty, suffering, and humiliation. What matter? They are happy: Jesus is there!
The Venerable de la Salle placed his institution under the patronage of Saint Joseph, and daily recited the litanies of the Saint, recommending his brethren to do so likewise, in order that Saint Joseph's tender care of the Infant Jesus might serve as a model to them in bringing up the children entrusted to their care. The Saint proved how dear the Venerable Father was to his heart ; when he fell sick, his strength returned on the eve of Saint Joseph's Day, and he was able to say Mass, his last, on the morning of the Feast His health appeared to have been given back but for that purpose, for he soon experienced a relapse, and, in a few days, fell asleep in the Lord.
"And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city."
—Saint Luke II. 1, 3.
Joseph, in virtue of his royal descent, should have commanded, he obeys ; his heritage was a throne, and yet among the lowly is his home! True greatness and liberty are independent of social position. Many a one appears to hold a higher rank than his brethren, and is in reality but the puppet of those whom in semblance and fancy he commands. He ranks as first, and is but last and lowest of all. In the most holy position one may be as great, as free, as ever was monarch on his throne !
In the sight of God and of the angels, Joseph fills the highest and most regal position in the world. . Augustus governs Rome, and through Rome the world. Joseph rules but one family, commands but two subjects ; but this family is comprised of Jesus and Mary—Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus, God and King over all the Caesars and nations of the world ! Do you aspire to be great and free ? To possess real authority and lasting influence over men? Humble yourself and obey. God and man resist the proud. Give way to others and cede in all things where truth and justice demand not the contrary. Thus and thus only will you be found strong and free when called on to defend the interests of God and of your neighbour.
Watchword.—Conceal your greatness.
10. Saint Joseph's Power revealed by Our Lady.
"My daughter," said the Blessed Virgin, to one of her faithful clients, " words fail to reveal the eminent sanctity of Saint Joseph. Only in heaven will this deep and admirable mystery be fathomed. At the Judgment Day numbers of the lost will bitterly lament having slighted and neglected so powerful a protector. The world ignores the greatness of the prerogatives bestowed by God on my holy spouse. Seek his intercession in every hour of need, and strive to augment the number of his clients. God grants on earth all that my spouse demands in heaven.
"And Joseph, rising up from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife." — Saint Matthew 1. 24.
Here two things in the conduct of Joseph strike me forcibly—its simplicity and its promptitude. The Angel has spoken: instantly, without question or hesitation, Joseph obeys: Fecit sicut prcecepit. Admirable simplicity ! How this straightforwardness bears away the palm from human prudence, with its many calculations— its sinuosities and its deliberations.
True, it is permissible to hesitate, and as already said, we must suspend our judgment and reflect carefully when we are in doubt: Hoec eo cogitante ; but when once God has spoken, whether by the voice of Angel or of man, by a ray of human intelligence or a feeling of the heart, arise and act: Ex surgens ficit sicut praecepit. In the hour of anguish let silence be our wisdom, and the voice of God our light; suddenly the darkness shall be dispelled — all obstacles will disappear; our desires and our designs will be realised, and that far beyond out fondest expectations.
Watchword.—What it is your duty to do, do it resolutely, promptly, and simply.
8. Saint Joseph and Saint Francis de Sales,
Saint Francis de Sales being at Lyons on the Feast of Saint Joseph, preached at the Carmelites. As soon as the sermon was ended, the Superior of the Jesuits came to the Saint and entreated him to preach at their church, dedicated to Saint Joseph. " I confess," replied the amiable Prelate, "that two sermons a day are rather beyond my powers ; still, for love of Saint Joseph, I will do my best." He did so, and it was well seen that Saint Joseph was his saint of predilection. The Superior was about to thank him when the Prelate exclaimed : " But, Father, do you not perceive how entirely I am devoted to Saint Joseph ?"
This same Father being with the good Bishop one day previous to his death, asked permission to make use of his breviary, and remarked that in it there was but one picture, that of Saint Joseph.
"And Joseph knew not Mary till she had brought forth her first-born Son, and he called His name Jesus."—Saint Matthew 1. 25.
Jesus is called first-born of Mary, because at the foot of the Cross the Immaculate Virgin was to become the Mother of the human race—these represented in the person of Saint John. Joseph and Mary led the life of angels, and towards the Divine Child Saint Joseph exercised all the rights and fulfilled all the duties and offices of father.
In the first place, it is he who has the honour of naming Mary's Son—an honour, we have said, that exalts Joseph far above Patriarchs, Apostles, and Doctors. Now, if the name of Jesus is the only word that we have from the lips of Joseph, this single word reveals the one thought which filled the mind, heart, and life of Saint Joseph.
Great Saint, obtain for me this one favour—to know Jesus, and to know but Jesus. I shall do this, if Jesus, and Jesus alone, is first in my mind and heart, on my lips and in my hands, that is to say, first in my thoughts and my affections, in my words and in my actions. May it be my one ambition, my sole happiness and glory to study Jesus and His Gospel, to serve Jesus and His Church!
Watchword. — You are a Christian: be proud of this name.
9. Joseph and the Infant Jesus.
Yolande of Silva, of the Order of Saint Dominic, had an especial veneration for Saint Joseph, because he had the happiness of hearing the cries, of the Infant Jesus, of beholding Him during the days of His infancy, of carrying Him, of caressing and fondling Him with loving reverence.
"Mary shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." — Saint Matthew 1: 21.
Now Joseph comprehends the high degree of honour to which union with Mary admits him. He is chosen as father to Mary's Son, the Son of God, and the honour will be his of bestowing on the Divine Child the admirable name of Jesus, a name which in itself designates all that He is, and all that He will be!
No longer let us murmur at Joseph's silence. We know but one word that issued from his lips, but by this one word Joseph has revealed more than all the Prophets of the Old, and as much as the Apostles and Doctors of the New Testament: for Joseph has named Jesus.
The prophets foretold what Messias would do and say, but none declared His name; but this name in itself reveals all that Jesus is, all that Jesus will be. The Apostles can tell us no more than this. Ifthey traverse the world, it is to preach the name of Jesus; if they create astonishment by their miracles, it is because they work them in the name of Jesus; whether they suffer, whether they die, it is for the name of Jesus. The Doctors speak and write but to explain, propagate, and defend the Faith in the name of Jesus; and Saint Bernard exclaims, as did Saint Paul, that he knows but one thing, but one word—Jesus. All the Doctors and all the Apostles say the same.
For ourselves, let there be fewer words, fewer ideas. One suffices. With Joseph let us seek but Jesus, think but Jesus, speak but Jesus, serve but Jesus, act but for Jesus, and then shall we never be separated from Jesus.
Watchword, —Invoke incessantly the Holy Name of Jesus.
7. The Three Great Names.
Father Gaspard Bon began and ended all his questions, and all his replies, by invoking the holy names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and expired uttering these sacred names, which are in themselves a pledge of salvation.
" Joseph, son of David, fear not to take onto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."—Saint Matthew 1. 20.
Son of David, descendant of the Prophet- King; of him who in vision beheld the eternal reign of the Messiah. Joseph, let the recollection of thy origin recall to thee the wondrous things that shall be effected in thy line ! The prediction of thy ancestor is about to be accomplished in the womb of the Virgin of Jesse, co-descendant with thee of the line of David, the Holy Virgin whose fate is linked with thine! Fear not, thou son of David, to remain with thy spouse, Virgin Daughter of David's royal line! Thou art worthy of her, and to thee is confided that sacred deposit, the divine treasure of her virginity! True, it is by the operation of the Holy Ghost that she has become a mother, but she ceases not to be thy spouse. She and her Son are thine ! An orphan here below, the Son of the Most High, and Mary's Son needs an earthly father, this father thou shalt be, for it is thy right: Noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam.
Is anxiety at its climax, difficulty insuperable, do thou thy best. Reflect, seek for a way to extricate thyself and then resolve: Haec autem eo cogitante; but act with calmness, like Joseph, in spite of anxiety, sleep thou in peace in the arms of a living Providence. The night of trial shall usher in a brilliant day. You fell asleep in sorrow, you shall awake in joy!
Watchword.—Hope ever; God is faithful.
6. Saint Joseph and Saint Ignatius.
Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, was ever mindful of Saint Joseph. In his " Exercises" he proposes the Saint to our consideration in relation to our Lord's hidden life. In his oratory was an image of Saint Joseph, before which he loved to pray, and when any extraordinary difficulty occurred, it was on this spot that Saint Ignatius put it into writing, in order to obtain a happy solution.
" While Joseph thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep."—Saint Matthew 1: 20.
What honour for Saint Joseph thus to be deemed worthy of retaining her as spouse, who, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, had become the Mother of God! We must admit that he had, by his prudence and discretion, proved himself worthy of the high mission entrusted to him. In similar circumstances how many would by their precipitation have ruined all! Joseph is lord of his own mind and heart He takes time to reflect: Haec autem to cogitante.
Let us think before we act, think before we speak, think even before pronouncing interiorly, especially when our neighbour's honour is concerned. Let us wait for light from above, and when we have used all possible means, and applied all the resources of our mind and will, suddenly, and at the very moment when we least expect it, God will send His angel: Haec aviem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei. During sleep, in the hours of night, at the moment when we end our research, or at the moment when all is dark around, light will appear, inspiration will arrive, and the Divine Will be declared.
Watchword.—Reflect before you speak or act.
5. Patronage of Saint Joseph.
Saint Theresa relates that at the Feast of the Assumption Saint Joseph appeared and covered her with a mantle of brilliant whiteness, revealing to her at the same time, that she was justified from all her sins, and that he would obtain for her all the favours she desired.
Saint Theresa had dedicated the greater part of her convents to Saint Joseph, but after her decease, some of these houses were placed under her protection. The saint appeared to one of the religious and gave her this strict order: Tell the Father Provincial to remove my name from the houses and restore to them that of Saint Joseph.
" Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately." Saint Matthew 1: 19.
The Holy Ghost proclaims Joseph a just man, and yet as being loth to accuse Mary therefore the holy Patriarch must have been convinced of the perfect innocence of his angelic spouse, if not so, Joseph's resolve would have been contrary to the law and therefore to justice also. Why, then, does Joseph meditate separation from Mary ? It is doubtless that he deems himself unworthy of remaining with her in whom such mysteries were being enacted. What anxiety must not he have suffered in reconciling obedience to the law, with the respect due to the virtue of Mary? Admire the wisdom of this just man, who finds in withdrawing himself a way of conciliation.
However strong the external evidence against our neighbour—let us beware of judging him—I reflect what regret it would have caused Saint Joseph had he allowed himself to judge according to appearances. Do you wish to spare yourself and your brethren sorrow—too often irreparable - judge not your neighbour, speak not and act not against his interests, save in case of publicity, of certainty, or of necessity.
Watchword.—Judge, not and you shall not be judged.
4. Saint Joseph and the Two Professors.
During the time that Father Lallemand was rector of the college at Bourges, as the Feast of Saint Joseph drew near the Rev. Father sent for two young professors, and promised to obtain for them any grace they desired, provided that they would exhort their pupils to devotion towards Saint Joseph.
The two religious gladly consented to the proposal, and their efforts were so successful that on the day of the Feast all their pupils received Holy Communion. The same day the two professors went to the rector, and each of them privately named the grace he desired. The first, the eminent Father Nouet, entreated the privilege of speaking and writing worthily of our Saviour. We do not know the favour desired by the other, we only know that it was obtained. As for Father Nouet, he, on the morrow of the Feast, returned to the rector, saying that he had changed his mind, as, on reflection, he
thought it his duty to ask for some grace more necessary to his own perfection. The rector replied that it was too late now, for Saint Joseph had already granted the favour at first requested.
"When Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."—Saint Matthew 1: 18.
Mary was confided to Saint Joseph as a precious deposit. The mission of this just man was to shield the virginity of Mary. Meanwhile the work of the Holy. Ghost is accomplished. Let us simply observe our rule of life, fulfil the duties of our calling, and God meanwhile will work out great things, accomplishing His designs, and inasmuch as we have been faithful to the mission entrusted to our care, God will associate us with Himself in the work that otherwise He would effect without our aid.
Joseph covers, so to speak, the Divine work; and thus God makes use of our words and example to give birth to Jesus in the hearts of men, whilst in reality it is His grace that effects these wonders.
3. Dignity of Saint Joseph.
On the Feast of the Annunciation Saint Gertrude beheld in vision all the saints of heaven bend the head each time the choir uttered the name of Joseph; they exchanged glances, testifying their happiness at the glory Saint Joseph enjoys in heaven, and the honour rendered to him on earth.
"And in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary."—Saint Luke I. 26, 27.
This son of David, the descendant of kings, is in the world's sight nought but a simple workman, obliged to gain his bread by the sweat of his brow.
When God proposes working out some grand design, He renders lowly all the surroundings of the person whose greatness He intends to manifest That masterpiece of the Divine Wisdom, Power and Love, the Incarnation, was to be divested of all earthly splendour; therefore, during three hundred years the house of David was lost sight of among the other families of Judah, Zerubbabel is the last king who plays any part in history. The branch to which Joseph belonged fell into indigence, and as there is nothing so efficacious as poverty to ensure the world's neglect, Joseph was in a fit position to be associated in the Divine work.
When God abases and humbles you; when He deprives you of the means of action, of the elements of success; when He appears to frustrate and annihilate your every effort, do not be alarmed. In this very way He is about to effect, by you and in you, some great work. Men despise, or worse still, they forget you, and know you no more. This is the moment awaited by God. Now, will the Divine Power (such is the meaning of the name Gabriel) descend to visit you, and, as Mary and Joseph ofold, so you too are about to be summoned to concur in the carrying on of the Divine work, in the development of the Incarnation; in the perfecting of the mysterious Body of Christ, in the extension of the Church, and the reign of Jesus.
Watchword—Desire to be ignored, and to ignore oneself.
2. Devotion to Saint Joseph counselled by our Lady.
Father P. Balthazar Alvarez being sick, a religious presented him with an image of Saint Joseph, exhorting him to commend himself to the holy Patriarch. "You are right," replied the Father; "that is precisely what the Blessed Virgin counselled me to do." On hearing these words, a brother who had accompanied Father Alvarez in his journey to Rome, remembered that on quitting the Holy House of Loretto, the Father told him that he had just experienced a deep feeling of devotion to Saint Joseph. It is possible that was the moment when Our Lady exhorted the Father to confidence in her Holy Spouse.
The following is taken from the book titled, "The Little Month of St. Joseph" Imprimatur 1886
The most reliable foundation for the glory and veneration due to Saint Joseph is to be found within the pages of the Gospel. Thirty-three texts, comprising all that the New Testament narrative reveals concerning Saint Joseph, have been selected by us as the groundwork of a course of short practical Meditations inciting to the imitation of the virtues of the Saint, as recorded in the Gospel. These thirty-three chosen texts will teach the faithful how best to honour the great Patron of the Church, and the reasons for placing unlimited confidence in his protection.
This little manual contains a daily exercise for the Month of Saint Joseph; but devotion to this Patron op the Universal Church should not be confined to one month, and as each Wednesday throughout the year has for a long time been dedicated to St. Joseph, a good way of carrying out this devotion might be to take for the subject of our Meditation some of the mysteries of the life of this great Saint as we find them recorded in the Gospel. Of the three Feasts in honour of Saint Joseph, the chief one is that celebrated on the 19th of March. The second in order is that of the Patronage, fixed for the Third Sunday after Easter; and the third, common to Our Lady and her chaste Spouse, falls on January 23d, and bears the name of Feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph. Three of the daily readings would form a Meditation for each day of the Novenas preceding these Feasts, and each Meditation might be concluded by the recitation of the prayers authorized to be used in honour of the Saint, and which will be found at the end of this little book, in company with other devotions to the august Spouse of the Mother of our Lord.
ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL
"And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ" —Saint Matthew 1:16.
Descendant of the kings of Judah, Spouse of the Mother of God, foster-father of Jesus, representative also of the Eternal Father, Joseph holds, next to Mary, the highest rank to which a mere creature can be exalted; and such a man is passed unnoticed. No trait is cited, no word uttered, that can win him a place in the annals of the world. He is named but in conjunction with Jesus and Mary, and that only so far as their interests require.
How vain all earthly glory! Much is said of those who desire but oblivion, and true merit remains ignored. Let the world despise us, its contempt pass unheeded, and, far from feeling surprise, let us rejoice at being overlooked. The world has forgotten so many! We will repay oblivion by oblivion!
Watchword. —Heed neither the esteem nor the contempt of the world.
1. Saint Joseph's Place in Heaven.
An artist was commissioned by Pius IX to paint a picture of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. When the sketch was submitted for approval, the sovereign pontiff, looking at it, exclaimed: "And Saint Joseph, where is he?" The artist pointed to a group lost in the clouds, replying: "That is the spot I reserve for him." "No," replied the Holy Father, pointing to a place at our Saviour's side; "there, and only there, must he be placed; for surely that is his post in heaven."
Holy Mother Church dedicates the month of
February to the Holy Family
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