Wednesday, November 13, 2019

THE PRAISES OF ST. JOSEPH


Hail Joseph, image of God the Father.
Hail Joseph, father of God the Son.
Hail Joseph, temple of the Holy Ghost.
Hail Joseph, beloved of the Holy Trinity.
Hail Joseph, most faithful helper in the great plan of Redemption.

Hail Joseph, most worthy spouse of the Virgin Mother.
Hail Joseph, father of all the faithful.
Hail Joseph, guardian of holy virgins.
Hail Joseph, greatest lover of poverty.
Hail Joseph, example of meekness and patience.
Hail Joseph, mirror of humility and obedience.

Blessed art thou among all men.
And blessed are thine eyes,
which have seen what thou hast seen.

And blessed are thine ears,
which have heard what thou hast heard.

And blessed are thy hands,
which have touched the Word Incarnate.

And blessed are thine arms,
which have carried the One Who carries all things.

And blessed is thy breast,
on which the Son of God most sweetly reposed.

And blessed is thy heart,
kindled with most ardent love.

And blessed be the Eternal Father, Who chose thee.
And blessed be the Son, Who loved thee.
And blessed be the Holy Ghost, Who sanctified thee.
And blessed be Mary, thy spouse,
who loved thee as a spouse and a brother.

And blessed be the Angel, who guarded thee.
And blessed be forever all who bless thee and who love thee.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

St. Joseph the Old Widower?


Was St. Joseph an old widower by the time he was espoused to the Blessed Virgin Mary? This idea is popular in the Eastern Rites as they once drew heavily from the apocryphal books not contained in the Bible. 

According to the saints and mystics of the Catholic Church, Joseph is said to have been no older than 33 years of age when he was espoused to Mary, however through the ages European art has depicted Joseph as an elderly man hunched over his walking stick, or, more commonly in Orthodox Nativity icons, as an old man sitting on the ground away from the Virgin Mary and newborn Jesus. In true Orthodox icons St. Joseph is always depicted as being elderly and is never to be holding the Child Jesus or touching the Virgin Mary. He is merely an observer.


The reason for the “elderly Joseph” portrayal was to protect the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary by finding an explanation for the brothers and sisters of the Lord, such as those mentioned in Matthew 12:46. The apocryphal book known as The Proto-Evangelium of James, which was condemned by Pope Innocent I, was the answer to this dilemma, and states that Joseph was an elderly widower with four sons and two daughters by the time he met Our Lady and married her when he was 78 years old. However, the saints and mystics of the Catholic Church agree that Joseph had no wife but Mary.

Focusing on the physical, and not the spiritual, people could not envision this marriage as being without sexual intimacy unless there was some sort of physical barrier, such as the husband being too old to perform sexually.

As St.Josemaria Escrivá tells us, St. Joseph’s youth and strength were not obstacles to the virginal love he had for Mary:
“I don't agree with the traditional image of St. Joseph as an old man, even though it may have been prompted by a desire to emphasize the perpetual virginity of Mary. I see him as a strong young man … in the prime of his life and work. You don't have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength of youth is no obstacle for noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Our Lady. Anyone who cannot understand a love like that knows very little of the Christian meaning of chastity - St. Josemaria Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei.

We now turn to St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, who explains the virginal relationship between Joseph and Mary:

That God was born of a virgin we believe because we read it in the Holy Bible.  That Mary consummated marriage after her childbirth we do not believe because we do not read it.  Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity is itself a fruit of marriage, but because there is no license to draw rash conclusions about holy men. For if we wish to take the mere possibility into consideration, we can contend that Joseph had several wives because Abraham and Jacob had several wives and that from these wives, the ‘brethren of the Lord’ were born, a fiction which most people invent with not so much pious as presumptuous audacity! You say that Mary did not remain a virgin; even more do I claim that Joseph was virginal through Mary, in order that from a virginal marriage a virginal son might be born. For if the charge of fornication does not fall on this holy man, and if it is not written in the Bible that he had another wife, and if he was more of a protector than a husband of Mary, whom he was thought to have as his wife, it remains to assert that he who merited to be called the father of the Lord remained virginal with her (P. Schaff & H. Wace, 2007, pg. 344).

From the earliest days of the Church, the faithful believed in the perpetual virginity of the mother of Jesus. Also, Church traditions fully support that Joseph, being led by the Holy Spirit, chose to offer everything about himself to God and had made a vow of virginity early on in life. Given that he was sanctified by God and given many special graces, this doesn’t seem so strange. Venerable Maria de Agreda, Mother Cecelia Baij, St. Francis de Sales and St. John Paul II speak of the virtue of Joseph’s virginity:

Maria de Agreda writes: Joseph had made and kept the vow of chastity … and was known for the utmost purity of his life, holy and irreprehensible in the eyes of God and of men. (M. Agreda, 1912, p. 576).  

Madre Cecelia Baij: As he made his promise of perpetual virginity to God, Joseph’s heart was filled with an inexpressible joy (C. Baij, 1997, pg. 54).

St. Francis de Sales: How exalted in this virtue of virginity must Joseph have been who was destined by the Eternal Father to be the companion in virginity of Mary! Both had made a vow to preserve virginity for their entire lives, and it was the Will of God to join them in the bond of a holy marriage (E. Thompson, 1953, pg. 90).

And finally, St. John Paul II: In the Liturgy, Mary is celebrated as "united to Joseph, the just man, by a bond of marital and virginal love.” There are two kinds of love here, both of which together represent the mystery of the Church - virgin and spouse - as symbolized in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes and confirms it. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with his people, the Covenant which is a communion of love between God and human beings (John Paul II, 1989).

We may believe that St. Joseph gave his gift of virginity to God. This was a holy vow, not because sexual relations are bad and he was abstaining from it, but because he recognized this God-given gift as being so wonderful and intimate that he wanted to offer it and himself entirely to God. This was a selfless act of love.

Read more in The Book of Joseph.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

REPARATION TO ST. JOSEPH


REPARATION TO ST. JOSEPH 
 
Though this is an old story, I just found out about it now:

In Morro Agudo, Brazil, a 19-year-old man made a joke in bad taste. He simulated a sex act with a statue of St. Joseph, the city's patron saint, and posted photos of the act on his social network. The act angered the city's Catholic community. The man later removed the post and apologized citing that he didn't know it was the statue of a saint, even though the statue is in front of a church.

Regardless of this story being 4 years old and the apology that came, an act of reparation should still be made for this act. So please offer a prayer to comfort St. Joseph and also for the young man to receive the graces he needs for his spiritual welfare.
Hail Joseph, son of David, God is with you!
Blessed are you amongst men and blessed is our Lord Jesus Christ! Holy Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, forgive those who desecrate your images, send them the graces they need, and accept our humble embrace in reparation for their sins. +Amen.