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IN G 


HIHB-BAY DEVOTION 












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REFLECTING 


ON 


SAINT JOSEPH 



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REFLECTING 


on 

SAINT JOSEPH 

A Nine-Day Devotion 



Sister Emily Joseph, C. S. J. 


Saint Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, New Jersey 



COPYRIGHT, 1959 , BY 
SAINT ANTHONY’S GUILD 


Nihil ohstat: 

« Bede Babo, O. S. B., 


Imprimatur: 

*f- James A, McNulty, 
Bishop 


December 12, 1958 


1961 printing 


Censor. 


Paterson. 


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 


Contents 


Pagi 


Introduction 


Vll 


First Day 

‘’Blessed are the poor in spirit.. . . 


1 


Second Day 

“Blessed are the meek.... 


8 


Third Day 

“Blessed are they who mourn. . . . 


14 


Fourth Day 

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice. ...” 21 

Fifth Day 

“Blessed are the merciful....” . 27 

Sixth Day 

“Blessed are the clean of heart....”. 34 

Seventh Day 

“Blessed are the peacemakers....” . 40 

Eighth Day 

“Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ 

sake....” . 48 

Ninth Day 

“Happy the man who fears the Lord. ...”. 54 


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INTRODUCTION 


More than three centuries ago a saintly French priest, 
Louis Lallemant, S. J., designed for himself and his spir¬ 
itual children a special form of devotion to Saint Joseph. 
Into it he wove the elements of meditation, self-discipline, 
and concentration upon the great mysteries of the Faith 
associated with the Incarnation of the Word of God. 
Two features of this devotion are remarkable: its sim¬ 
plicity, and its profundity. Any child can practice it in 
its simplest form, and make spiritual progress; the most 
learned theologian will be attracted to the devotion as 
a perfect opportunity for growth in spiritual stature. 

The form of this devotion can be easily outlined: four 
times a day one makes an imaginary visit to Saint Joseph. 
This visit can be made any place at all — at home, on a 
bus, while walking to work or waiting for an appoint¬ 
ment. During the first visit, one recalls Saint Josephs 
fidelity to grace, thanks God for the sublime correspond¬ 
ence with grace which Saint Joseph always practiced, asks 
help to imitate his fidelity, and mentions the specific favor 
being sought through his intercession. The pattern for 
the other three visits is the same, with attention directed, 
in the second visit, to Saint Joseph’s fidelity to the interior 
life; in the third, to his devotion to Our Lady; and in the 
fourth, to his devotion to the Divine Child. 

Within the past few years, thousands of Saint Joseph’s 
clients have been honoring him by the practice of this de¬ 
votion. Favors of both a material and a spiritual nature 
have been so numerous that it seems Saint Joseph has 
merely to present a request to his Divine foster Son and 
it is granted. This should cause no one surprise. As the 
Christ of Nazareth offered prompt obedience to His foster 

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REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


father throughout the years of His hidden life, so now 
in heaven He listens to each request of Saint Joseph as if 
it were a command. Everyone is familiar with the con¬ 
fidence which Saint Teresa of Avila placed in Saint Jo¬ 
seph. She could boast that she had never asked him for 
anything which she did not receive. 

We can readily understand the degree of Saint Joseph’s 
intercessory power when we reflect on the teaching of 
Saint Thomas Aquinas that the intercession of the saints 
is proportioned to their degree of glory in heaven, or to 
their union with God. Excepting only God’s masterpiece 
of grace, our Blessed Lady, Saint Joseph was placed by 
Divine Providence in a position closer to the Incarnate 
Word than any other saint. By one pope after another 
his heavenly glory has been proclaimed and extolled. 
Confidently, then, may his clients expect from him prompt 
and powerful intercession on their behalf. 

No specific prayers are required for this devotion. It 
is hoped that the reflections which are here presented may 
serve to stimulate further contemplation of the virtues of 
this beloved saint, who exemplifies so inspiringly the ideal 
described by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount. May 
God grant to all who reflect upon Saint Joseph the grace 
to reflect him in their thoughts, their words, their entire 
conduct of life, so that, in union with him, they may 
enjoy union with his Divine foster Son for all eternity. 


FIRST DAY 


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom 
of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). 


I. Fidelity to Grace 

TN THE Sermon on the Mount, Christ stated, as the 
A first of the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven/’ Although we do 
not know whether Saint Joseph lived long enough to 
hear Christ’s preaching, it is clear that the Holy Spirit 
filled his heart with an understanding of the blessedness 
that results from being poor in spirit. To find content¬ 
ment in his lot as the village carpenter of Nazareth, to 
accept the humiliations of Bethlehem and see in them 
God’s holy will, to accept the rich gifts of the Magi and 
to use them solely for the interests of his foster Son — 
such were the lessons that Saint Joseph learned well. 

Grace enlightened Joseph’s mind and he came to 
know that, in itself, poverty is indifferent; that is, it is 
neither good nor bad. It can lead to sin when a wrong¬ 
ful desire for the goods one does not have impels one 
to cheat, to lie, to steal, or even to kill. Saint Joseph, 
on the other hand, came to realize that wealth, luxury, 
and preoccupation with the comforts of this life can 
weigh down the spirit of man, keep him engrossed in 
the affairs of earth, and prevent his growth in grace and 
union with God. Saint Joseph recognized poverty as a 
potential spiritual good, a condition which can speed man 


1 


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REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


on his way to his final end. By his fidelity to grace he 
acquired a steadily increasing conviction of the value of 
such poverty, which Christ made one of the counsels of 
perfection in His Church. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, ever faithful to the inspirations of 
grace, obtain for me a proper appreciation of the spirit 
of poverty. Guide me in my efforts to acquire this spirit 
and teach me to invoke the Holy Spirit for enlightenment 
regarding the practice of that poverty which is so directly 
opposed to the spirit of the world. Help me in all things 
to surrender myself to all that your Divine foster Son de¬ 
sires of me. 


Concluding Prayer 

(To be used at the end of the first meditation each day:) 

Almighty Father, from whom all graces come: I praise 
and bless and thank Thee for Saint Joseph’s fidelity to 
grace. Grant that, through his loving intercession, I, too, 
may be faithful to grace. O my powerful patron Saint 
Joseph, obtain for me the favor I now ask. 

Note on Prayers 

(As explained on page VIII of the Introduction, no specific 
prayers are required for this devotion. Let us repeat that the 
prayers as worded here are merely a suggestion. It will often 
be more beneficial to the person following this devotion if 
he composes his own prayers, using the sentiments that spring 
from his heart as a result of his meditation upon the life of 
Saint Joseph.) 



FIRST DAY 


3 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

"The kingdom of God is within you!” It follows, then, 
that if you are faithful to this kingdom of the interior 
life, you are truly rich. 

In this sense, Saint Joseph was a rich man. Yet his 
lot in life left him free from the possessions which add 
an element of distraction to those who would advance in 
perfection. Saint Joseph’s skill as a carpenter probably 
netted him but a meager income. By his fidelity to the 
interior life, Saint Joseph gained increasing awareness of 
the treasures of grace with which God was adorning his 
soul. God revealed to him the hierarchy of values wherein 
each thing, a good in itself, serves as a steppingstone to 
a higher good as one mounts the path of sanctity to the 
Summum Bonum, God. Within his own heart reigned 
peace with God and all his fellow men. There he en¬ 
joyed a foretaste of that beatitude of which Saint Paul 
was speaking when he said: "Eye has not seen nor ear 
heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what 
things God has prepared for those who love Him” 
(1 Cor. 2:9; cf. Isa. 64:4). 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, help me to search my heart that 
I may detect my secret attachment to creature comforts. 
Pray for me that I may have the clear spiritual vision nec¬ 
essary to distinguish between true supernatural riches and 
the world’s tinsel. May I learn to put first things first; 
to follow the admonition of our Lord and "seek first the 
kingdom of God and His justice” (Matt. 6:33). 


4 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Concluding Prayer 

(To be used at the end of the second meditation 

each day:) 

Almighty Father, from whom all graces come: I praise 
and bless and thank Thee for Saint Joseph’s fidelity to 
the interior life. Grant that, through his loving inter¬ 
cession, I, too, may be faithful to the interior life. O my 
powerful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for me the favor 
I now ask. 


Ill . Devotion to Our Lady 

Certain non-material possessions — for example, love 
and companionship — are often more precious to us than 
worldly goods. Somewhere along the road of life, God 
graciously provides us with a friend whose understand¬ 
ing heart, kindred interests, ready sympathy, and encour¬ 
aging advice prove beyond question the truth of the 
Scriptural proverb: "A brother is a better defense than 
a strong city” (Prov. 18:19). 

Imagine the joy of Saint Joseph during the days fol¬ 
lowing his espousals with the beautiful daughter of 
Joachim and Anne! With what tenderness he pledged 
to her his undying loyalty; with what earnestness he of¬ 
fered her his support and protection. It was Saint Jo¬ 
seph’s privilege to be chosen by God to enjoy the intimacy 
of home life with Mary, the Immaculate Mother of 
Christ, whom we honor as "Cause of our joy.” 

But, to be poor in spirit one must be ready to re¬ 
linquish, when God’s will demands it, not only worldly 
goods but also non-material possessions. In this, Saint 
Joseph quietly sets the example. Before the day on which 


FIRST DAY 


5 


he was to take Mary to his home as his wife, Joseph 
discovered that she was bearing a child. The Gospel tells 
us, quite clearly and simply, of his decision: "But Jo¬ 
seph, ... being a just man, and not wishing to expose her 
to reproach, was minded to put her away privately" 
(Matt. 1:19). 

Sickness, death, or merely the vicissitudes of everyday 
life may impose upon us separation from one whose 
friendship constitutes a very dear possession. To recog¬ 
nize in this deprivation the holy will of God and to ac¬ 
cept it generously is the mark of one who is truly poor 
in spirit. Even as God immediately reassured Saint Joseph 
after this trial of his virtue, so will He, according to His 
own most adorable designs, reward us with peace of soul 
in this life and the possession hereafter of the kingdom 
of heaven, where "death shall be no more; neither shall 
there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the 
former things have passed away" (Apoc. 21:4). 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, let no particular attachment hold 
captive part of the love I owe to Christ. Let not my af¬ 
fection for any person or for any position in life interfere 
with my observance of God’s law. When circumstances 
upset my plans concerning my friends or my projects, en¬ 
able me to adjust myself, without interior disturbance, to 
this manifestation of the holy will of God. 

Concluding Prayer 

(To be used at the end of the third meditation each day:) 

Almighty Father, from whom all graces come: I praise 
and bless and thank Thee for Saint Joseph’s devotion to 


6 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Our Lady. Grant that, through his loving intercession, 
I, too, may be truly devoted to Our Lady. O my powerful 
patron Saint Joseph, obtain for me the favor I now ask. 

IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

As one meditates on the first Beatitude, there comes 
to mind another forceful statement which Christ made: 
"Amen I say to you, with difficulty will a rich man enter 
the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:23). Yet it is note¬ 
worthy that the heavenly Father sent a luminous star to 
summon wise and wealthy Gentiles to be among the first 
worshipers of His Divine Son. 

The visit of these colorful foreigners, which caused 
such excitement and consternation in the household of 
Herod, must have attracted even greater attention in 
Bethlehem. What an accumulation of celebrated person¬ 
ages in a single spot! In the arms of Heaven’s Queen lay 
the Prince of Peace. Close by stood Joseph, whom we 
salute in his litany as the renowned offspring of King 
David. Crowding into the tiny quarters of the Holy Fam¬ 
ily came Kings from the East (sages and members of a 
sacred caste). "They found the child with Mary His 
mother, and falling down they worshiped Him. And 
opening their treasures they offered Him gifts of gold, 
frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11) 

These were men possessing great material riches. They 
had been called in a special manner to the kingdom of 
heaven. By their response they proved their poverty of 
spirit. Without stint they gave of their wealth to the 
King of heaven, and thus secured for themselves the 


FIRST DAY 


7 


happiness which Christ so lavishly bestows on those who 
are generous with Him. 

Saint Joseph, accepting the Magi’s gifts, presents a 
charming picture of the man of tact. At first sight, it 
might appear that the gifts of gold, frankincense and 
myrrh were extremely inappropriate and impractical. But, 
as the poet Hilaire Belloc has said, "The grace of God 
is in courtesy”; and Saint Joseph sensed instinctively that 
these Wise Men with their luxurious trappings were really 
needy: their noble hearts were filled with a human 
need — to give. From Saint Joseph we can learn that 
poverty of spirit consists in gracious humility, in order to 
accept without offense material gifts, or service, or any¬ 
thing which others wish to bestow — gifts which our in¬ 
dependence and self-sufficiency find unwelcome. 

With gracious dignity Joseph accepted these royal 
offerings from the Magi. In a spirit of poverty and in 
poverty of spirit, he consulted Mary as to how they might 
best use such gifts for the good of the Divine Child. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, lover of poverty, help me to acquire 
a spirit of indifference with regard to food, clothing, 
house furnishings and other necessities of life. Follow¬ 
ing your example, I will strive to develop a correct out¬ 
look on creatures and the comforts they provide. In this 
way I will heed the prayer of the liturgy which asks that 
we may so pass through the good things of time as not 
to lose those which are eternal. 





8 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Concluding Prayer 

(To be used at the end of the fourth meditation 

each day:) 

Almighty Father, from whom all graces come: I praise 
and bless and thank Thee for Saint Joseph’s devotion to 
the Divine Child. Grant that, through his loving inter¬ 
cession, I, too, may be truly devoted to Jesus. O my power¬ 
ful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for me the favor I now ask. 

SECOND DAY 

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth” 
(Matt. 5:4). 

/. Fidelity to Grace 

TN THE second Beatitude, Christ recommended a virtue 
which men find it particularly hard to practice — 
meekness. Among the moral virtues, meekness is the one 
most frequently misunderstood. Generally, it is looked 
upon as a passive virtue. Saint Thomas, however, does 
not so regard it. He associates it with the gift of forti¬ 
tude, and considers it the special virtue required by those 
who would exert a holy violence in the acquisition of 
sanctity. "The kingdom of heaven,” says Christ, "has 
been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been 
seizing it by force” (Matt. 11:12). Meekness is the re¬ 
splendent jewel adorning those who have gained mastery 
over their anger, irritability, resentment, and impatience. 
It is the passport to security, tranquillity, and solid con¬ 
fidence amid the annoying and disturbing incidents which 
throng our day-to-day existence. 





SECOND DAY 


9 


Unwavering fidelity to grace was the golden thread 
woven through the pattern of Saint Joseph’s life. By it 
he won the favor of the Holy Spirit and merited the gift 
of fortitude, which perfected in his soul the virtue of 
meekness. Study the scene in which he learned that the 
proud Roman emperor had prescribed a registration of 
all his subjects, regardless of the hardships imposed. 
Saint Joseph’s reaction was prompt and energetic. With¬ 
out a word of complaint he set about the course of action 
which grace inspired him to take. While his neighbors 
grumbled about the order of Augustus, Saint Joseph began 
his preparations for the trip to Bethlehem. He knew that 
it takes scant effort to talk, to complain, to criticize. To 
obey, in silence, out of respect for authority, calls for a 
degree of patience, of meekness, of fortitude, which meas¬ 
ures the stature of a saint. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, teach me by the example of your 
holy life to react with meekness and fortitude to situations 
which irritate and annoy me. When my own weakness 
would incline me to grumble about assignments, to criti¬ 
cize those in authority, or to complain about difficulties, 
place on my lips the aspiration, “Jesus, meek and humble 
of heart, make my heart like unto Thine!” 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the 
earth” — the earth, or land, of their own hearts; a land 


10 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


inherently their own, yet jealously coveted by each man’s 
deadly enemy, Satan. As Saint Paul describes it so vividly 
in his Epistle to the Ephesians, life is a constant warfare, 
in which Satan strives relentlessly for possession of man’s 
immortal soul. To be victorious, one must plan his strat¬ 
egy wisely, evaluate his own strength and weakness, and 
anticipate the enemy’s mode of attack. All this calls for 
introspection, self-examination, and awareness of the Holy 
Spirit who, as a sort of Divine Ally, dwells within the 
land. Successful campaigning demands constant and in¬ 
timate communication with Him. 

As a master strategist in this warfare, Saint Joseph 
has much to teach us. To ensure victory he recommends 
two measures: silence and close association with Jesus 
and Mary. By silence one gains the upper hand over his 
most unruly member, the tongue, of which Saint James 
says that it is "a little member, but it boasts mightily” 
(James 3:5). Mastery over all the manifestations of our 
irascible nature begins with mastery of the tongue. "If 
anyone does not offend in word, he is a perfect man, able 
also to lead round by a bridle the whole body” (James 
3 : 2 ). 

In Saint Joseph, the Church holds up to us the image 
of this "perfect man.” Just as the Pharao said to the 
Egyptians of that other Joseph, so the Church bids us, 
in regard to Mary’s spouse: "Go to Joseph and do what 
he tells you” (Gen. 41:55). His is the silence, not of 
the man who has nothing to say, but of one who is intent 
on nourishing the word of God planted within him. The 
heart in which silence does not reign produces an unlovely 
crop — frivolity, thoughtlessness, selfishness, vanity, rash 
judgments, and violations of charity — a perfect yield to 
serve as setting for Satan’s unholy revelry. One who 


SECOND DAY 


11 


would prevent Satan from usurping the land of his heart, 
or who would reclaim it from Satan’s proud advances, 
must begin with imitation of Saint Joseph in his prac¬ 
tice of silence, and progress with him in the attainment 
of meekness. 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, in my warfare against Satan I 
must gain control of my tongue. Help me to make 
progress in the practice of silence that I may become 
increasingly aware of the presence of God and hold con¬ 
verse with Him in my heart. In moments of impatience 
assist me that I may not fall into faults of the tongue. 
Help me to speak to others as you would if you were 
in my place. 


Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

III. Devotion to Our Lady 

For the development of any skill one is advised to 
imitate a master. This recommendation is equally im¬ 
portant for those who wish to acquire a specific virtue. 
Certainly, in the practice of patience the example of 
Mary was an inspiring model for Saint Joseph. Consider 
one situation in which Our Lady displayed this virtue in 
a heroic degree. 

On the day of the Archangel Gabriel’s visit, Mary 
had conceived the Christ Child. In the mysterious de¬ 
signs of God, this fact was concealed from Saint Joseph, 
although it was revealed to Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth. 


12 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Soon after the Annunciation, Mary went to visit Eliza¬ 
beth and probably remained with her until after the 
Baptist’s birth. Upon her return to Nazareth, Saint Jo¬ 
seph became immediately aware that she to whom he was 
espoused was soon to be the mother of a child. 

This was, without question, one of the most difficult 
situations of Mary’s life. The mystery of the divine 
maternity, the rarest privilege ever conferred by God 
on one of His creatures, was still her secret. It was not 
for her to divulge it even to Joseph; she must wait for 
God’s plan to develop as He willed. Meanwhile she 
understood the anguish of Saint Joseph, the inner con¬ 
flict which was tormenting him. She knew he was filled 
with anxiety and grief, unable to understand what had 
happened; and few crosses are more painful than to have 
one’s actions misunderstood by one whom we hold 
most dear. 

Joseph’s meekness and strength prevented any resent¬ 
ment or reproach from arising during the days when he 
silently and prayerfully weighed the course of action he 
should take. "Charity is patient,... is not provoked; 
thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5). Trusting in Divine 
Providence, Mary bore the pain of Joseph’s misunder¬ 
standing with the gentle patience of a truly valiant 
woman. And in proportion to the pain of the God-sent 
trial Mary and Joseph endured was their joy when the 
angel’s message revealed to Joseph the mystery of the 
Incarnation and the selection of Mary by the Triune God. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, be my strength when misunder¬ 
standings arise. Let me not show resentment in word 



SECOND DAY 


13 


or deed; and may I never insist upon justice at the sacri¬ 
fice of meekness. Help me, all-powerful patron, to un¬ 
derstand better the power of your kindness so that I may 
more readily practice the difficult but beautiful virtue of 
patience. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

Saint Joseph’s carpenter shop was for him both a 
place of business and the school in which he learned the 
lessons of sanctity taught by the example of his Divine 
foster Son. Who could doubt that above all else he 
learned the lesson which Christ was later to urge upon 
all His disciples, "Learn from Me, for I am meek and 
humble of heart" (Matt. 11:29) ? 

Work in a carpenter shop implies social contacts. 
Without stretching the imagination, one can envision the 
general run of Nazarene customers. Surely they included 
the faultfinders who complained about the grain of wood 
used in a piece of furniture they had ordered; the penny- 
pinchers who haggled over the price of an article; the 
inconsiderate who demanded immediate attention regard¬ 
less of the pressure of other work; the irresponsible who 
on one day placed an order for an item of such-and-such 
proportions and the following day appeared with en¬ 
tirely different directions for its construction. 

Many a time while Saint Joseph stood quietly planing 
a board or measuring a chest he observed his young Ap¬ 
prentice in His dealings with the people of Nazareth. 


14 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Even as when he had heard the Boy, at twelve, dis¬ 
coursing with the priests in the Temple, he was now 
"amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 
2:47). Never did a customer’s displeasure or abuse pro¬ 
voke a sharp answer. Never did the curve of His lips or 
the angle of an eyebrow indicate the slightest impatience. 
Christ had the strength to be meek. From Him, Saint 
Joseph can and will obtain for his clients the grace neces¬ 
sary for the practice of the virtue of meekness. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, assist me in my daily examination 
of conscience that I may strive sincerely to detect my 
failures in the practice of meekness and humility. Help 
me to grow, as you grew, in knowledge and love of 
Christ that I may imitate His virtues and give glory to 
His name. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


THIRD DAY 

"Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be com¬ 
forted n (Matt. 5:5). 


1 . Fidelity to Grace 

TPHE few passages in the Gospel narratives in which 
Saint Joseph appears present to us episodes of anguish 
and sorrow matched in no other human life, except that 


THIRD DAY 


15 


of Christ and of Our Lady. The explanation of their 
singular poignancy lies in the fact that each sorrow had 
as its focal point the glorious Son of God. 

Review these seven sorrowful incidents in Saint Jo¬ 
seph’s life: his anguish of heart after his espousal to Our 
Lady when she was found to be with child; his grief at 
being able to find no shelter but a stable at the time 
of Christ’s birth; his pain as he beheld the knife which 
was to draw the first drops of the Precious Blood at the 
circumcision; the thrust of the double-edged sword of 
Simeon’s prophecy, which foretold the future sufferings 
of the two whom Saint Joseph cherished more than life 
itself; his distress when he had to oblige Mary to take 
flight to escape the murderous designs of Herod; his fear, 
on the return from Egypt, of the reaction of the new 
king, Archelaus, and his uncertainty as to the wisest course 
of action; his inconceivable heartache during the agon¬ 
izing period of search when the Christ Child was lost in 
Jerusalem. 

Each incident, however painful, formed part of God’s 
design for His Incarnate Son. The prophets had fore¬ 
told the virgin birth of the Messias, had designated Beth¬ 
lehem as His birthplace, and had said that ‘'He shall be 
called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:23). In both the circum¬ 
cision and the presentation in the Temple, the Holy Fam¬ 
ily were obeying prescriptions of the Mosaic Law. Christ’s 
own answer to His Mother’s quiet rebuke in the Temple 
after His absence of three days indicated clearly that His 
parents’ pain was inseparable from His conformity with 
His Father’s will. 

Grace is often spoken of as a “light” in the soul. 
"In your light we see light,” says the psalmist (Ps. 35:10). 







16 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Saint Joseph’s fidelity to grace brought him the gift of 
understanding, which enabled him to see in each painful 
episode of his life the mystery of the divine dispensation. 
In each of his sorrows the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, 
brought him divine comfort. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, be my model in the acceptance 
of sorrow. May I recognize each pain and sorrow that 
comes to me as a part of God’s design for my sanctifica¬ 
tion. Teach me to meditate frequently upon your seven 
joys and sorrows that I may derive from them inspira¬ 
tion and strength. 


Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

II, Fidelity to the Interior Life 

Mystery invites meditation. Each incident of Christ’s 
early life in which Saint Joseph is mentioned is shrouded 
in deep mystery. The strange prophecy of the aged 
Simeon, in particular, involved Saint Joseph in profound- 
est thought and prayer. 

Simeon’s first words, acclaiming the tiny Babe as the 
"light of revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for Thy 
people Israel,’’ left "His father and mother... marvel¬ 
ing at the things spoken concerning Him.’’ Boundless joy 
surged up in the heart of Saint Joseph as God’s mercy 
and providence were thus publicly recognized and praised. 
Then Simeon spoke again. This time his words were 
directed to Mary alone: "Behold, this Child is destined 



THIRD DAY 


17 


for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, and for 
a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a 
sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may 
be revealed.” (cf. Luke 2:32-35) 

Saint Joseph was a man of prayer. From frequent 
recitation of the psalms he had become familiar with their 
figurative language. Beneath the symbolism of a sword 
he could easily discover the real meaning of Simeon’s 
words. Sorrow which would pierce to the depths of 
Mary’s being, pain which would drain her very life — this 
was to be the lot of Mary — and she must bear it alone! 
Such, Saint Joseph realized at once, was the import of 
the aged man’s prophetic utterance. 

As the years unfolded, this episode ever more deeply 
penetrated the heart of Saint Joseph. Time and again 
he pondered the phrases in which Isaias had foretold 
the humiliations, the sufferings, and ignominious death 
of the Messias. As he called to mind again and again 
the words of Simeon which seemed to imply that Mary 
would suffer alone, the conviction grew that he was not 
to be asked to witness the redemptive act of Christ. The 
quick protective instinct of this man of strength rose up 
in protest; his strong faith restrained his impulse and 
made him yield to whatever was demanded by the divine 
plan. From his submission there flowed into his soul the 
grace and peace which brought him comfort. "Blessed 
are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, teach me in my sorrows and dis¬ 
appointments not to turn to creatures for comfort but 
to seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit who dwells within 
my heart. Help me to cultivate a deep love of the Holy 



18 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Scriptures, that by prayerful study of them I may come 
to look upon my own sorrows in the light of Christ’s 
life and teachings. 


Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

Ill, Devotion to Our Lady 

A joy shared is doubled. A sorrow shared is diminished. 
Like any other family, the Holy Family experienced 
periods of joy and sorrow. Mary and Joseph shared all 
these together. Mary found comfort in Joseph’s steady 
protection as they faced rejection at door after door in 
Bethlehem. She relaxed beneath his reassuring glance 
as they hastily gathered up the sleeping Christ and set 
out upon their flight to Egypt. She welcomed the warm 
clasp of his calloused hands as he helped her dismount 
from the donkey before the dwelling they had selected 
in a strange Egyptian town. It was lonely in that foreign 
land. Poverty and the haste of their flight imposed count¬ 
less inconveniences. On every side Mary and Joseph en¬ 
countered difficulties in their social contacts. Without the 
cheering resourcefulness of Saint Joseph, Our Lady’s 
heartaches would have been intensified beyond measure. 

In the Old Testament the author of Genesis recounts 
how God once used the jealous designs of men to arrange 
an extraordinary set of circumstances in Egypt. Within the 
royal palace, the Pharao had established in a position of 
honor and power one from a foreign land who would 
turn the mourning of his brothers into joy. This was 
Joseph, son of Jacob, whom the Pharao had made "lord 


THIRD DAY 


19 


of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt” 
(Gen. 45:8). In him was prefigured Saint Joseph who, 
when forced to flee from his homeland into Egypt be¬ 
cause of the jealous designs of Herod, comforted and 
protected Mary and her Divine Babe in their sad exile. 
Just how long the sojourn in Egypt lasted — whether 
as long as two years — is not known. But when we read 
of the earlier Joseph that "the Lord was with him and 
prospered all his undertakings” (Gen. 39:3), can we not 
think that Divine Providence assisted Saint Joseph in his 
efforts to earn a livelihood and establish a comfortable 
home for Our Lady and the Divine Child while they 
dwelt in a foreign land? 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, be my protector as you were the 
protector of Jesus and Mary during their exile in Egypt. 
When others are suffering, help me to be quick to detect 
their trouble and to offer tactful sympathy and comfort. 
When circumstances place strangers or visitors in my 
path, teach me to be gracious and to extend to them on 
all occasions the courtesy and hospitality I would like 
to have shown to you and to Jesus and Mary during your 
sojourn in Egypt. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


IV, Devotion to the Divine Child 

To those who look upon them with the eyes of faith, 
the hidden years of Christ’s life reveal many of the secrets 







20 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


they hold. One of these is the relationship between Saint 
Joseph and his foster Son. Holy Scripture hints strongly 
at the most salient feature of this relationship: its lack 
of an unusual quality before the eyes of the world. 

In the early days of His public ministry, Jesus returned 
to His home town of Nazareth. "All bore... witness," 
says Saint Luke, "and marveled at the words of grace 
that came from His mouth. And they said, 'Is not this 
Joseph’s son?’ ’’ (Luke 4:22). All four evangelists record 
this reaction on the part of Christ’s fellow townsmen. 
Matthew (who may have learned of it from Saint Joseph)' 
and Mark add the pathetic comment: "And they took of¬ 
fense at Him’’ (Matt. 13:57; Mark 6:3). 

Christ’s fellow Nazarenes knew Him as the lad whom 
they had watched grow up among them as apprentice to 
the village carpenter. Joseph had exercised such perfect 
self-control that no word or gesture or attitude of his 
had deviated in the slightest degree from the normal re¬ 
lationship of father to son. From him came no revelation 
of the secret that this Child was the Son of God. It was 
not for him to disclose God’s plan. 

Now, the mainspring behind Saint Joseph’s acceptance 
of his role of shadow of the Eternal Father was faith. 
He believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messias; 
that He was to save His people from their sins; that His 
divine mission of redemption would fulfill the Messianic 
prophecies. Saint Joseph did not press for explanations 
of how this was to be accomplished. His was a quiet, 
unquestioning faith, that virtue whose supreme value 
Christ stressed on so many occasions during His public 
life. It is safe to conclude that the firm confidence of 
Joseph in his foster Son during those happy years to¬ 
gether must have been the greatest source of comfort to 


FOURTH DAY 


21 


Christ in that scene at Nazareth when He was rejected 
by His own. How consoling the memory of Joseph’s 
trust when the Nazarenes could not reconcile Jesus’ hum¬ 
ble origin with His claim of divine power! "And all in 
the synagogue, as they heard these things, were filled with 
wrath. And they rose up and put Him forth out of the 
town, and led Him to the brow of the hill, on which 
their town was built, that they might throw Him down 
headlong. But He, passing through their midst, went His 
way.” (Luke 4:28-30) 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, help me to learn, from the ex¬ 
ample of your holy life, that I must do the ordinary things 
of life in an extraordinary way. Strengthen within me 
the gift of faith which I received in Baptism. Let me see 
in each of my companions "another Christ.” By frequent 
meditation on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ 
may I come to love Him in all and all in Him. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


FOURTH DAY 

te Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for 
they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). 

/. Fidelity to Grace 

TN A single word the evangelist has summed up the 
virtues of Saint Joseph: he was a just man. The virtue 



22 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


of justice is coextensive with the rational activities of 
man’s mortal life. It imposes the obligation of rendering 
to God and man what is due to each. Essentially justice 
is a social virtue which regards first the acknowledgment 
of God’s rights — His right to the worship of His crea¬ 
tures and their recognition of His goodness and love — 
and, secondly, the rights of the members of the human 
family. One who consistently respects these rights is a 
just man and, therefore, holy. 

The ramifications of this virtue are so numerous that 
without the light of grace one can easily overlook some 
of its obligations. Justice requires us to do certain things 
and to refrain from certain actions. The minimum pre¬ 
scriptions are set down in the Ten Commandments. More 
than this, however, justice obliges us to be something. 
The relative importance of what one does and of what 
one is shines forth strikingly in Saint Joseph’s life. He 
erected no cathedrals, organized no societies, led no pil¬ 
grimages, founded no institutions, made no contributions 
to the art or literature of the world. Yet what saint could 
match the ardor of his devotion to Our Lady, his con¬ 
formity to the will of God, his intimacy with God’s own 
Son? God’s plan for him called for no magnificent dis¬ 
play of talents. His was not to be a life of startling aus¬ 
terities nor was he to endure heroic martyrdom. The 
proof of his zeal and fortitude was the quiet persever¬ 
ance with which he rendered justice to God and man. 
His was a steady growth in holiness. In return he re¬ 
ceived, even in his mortal life, his fill of happiness in the 
company of Jesus and Mary, knowing that with the help 
of grace he was sharing in the redemptive act of Christ. 










FOURTH DAY 


23 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, lead me to understand that what 
I am in the sight of God is more important than what I 
do. Clarify my spiritual vision so that in each situation 
in life I may recognize what constitutes justice to God 
and men and may have the grace and strength I need to 
act accordingly. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

"To hunger and thirst for justice”: this phrase ex¬ 
presses, in figurative language, the intensity with which 
one should yearn to see his fellow men respect the rights 
of God and the rights of men. When these rights are 
violated, one is inclined to resort to action to compen¬ 
sate for the injustice done to another. But action which 
is concerned merely with legislation or social reform is 
liable to remain ineffective. It must be aimed at the 
rectification of men’s hearts. Our Lord Himself, enumer¬ 
ating some of the forms of injustice, declared: "For from 
within, out of the heart of men, come evil thoughts, 
adulteries, immorality, murders, thefts, covetousness, 
wickedness, deceit, shamelessness, jealousy, blasphemy, 
pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22; cf. Matt. 15:19-20). 

Careful scrutiny of one’s own heart must precede 
efforts to correct the injustice of others. In phrases un¬ 
equaled for clarity and simplicity, Christ emphasized this 
principle: "But why dost thou see the speck in thy 
brother’s eye, and yet dost not consider the beam in thy 



24 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


own eye? And how canst thou say to thy brother, 'Brother, 
let me cast out the speck from thy eye,’ while thou thy¬ 
self dost not see the beam in thy own eye? Thou hypo¬ 
crite, first cast out the beam from thy own eye, and then 
thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck from thy 
brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:41-43) 

How nobly Saint Joseph exemplifies the just man, the 
man of holiness of life, whose first concern is the purity 
of his own heart! Because of his persistent searching, 
not the slightest vestige of sin was allowed to gain en¬ 
trance there. By a similar fidelity to the interior life, 
the Christian, too, can maintain a purity of heart that 
constitutes a delightful garden wherein the Holy Spirit 
loves to dwell. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, direct my zeal and temper it with 
prudence and tact that I may not be overeager to criti¬ 
cize or correct my neighbor while I neglect my efforts at 
self-improvement. Strengthen me in my resolve to attack 
with persistence my evil inclinations and to root out of 
my heart all sinful passions. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

III. Devotion to Our Lady 

Guided by his unerring sense of justice, Saint Joseph 
lavished upon Our Lady a constant and selfless devotion. 
Mary was his lawful wife. It was not only his unique 



FOURTH DAY 


25 


privilege, then, but also his duty to protect her, to pro¬ 
vide for her needs, to be her companion, and to share 
with her the responsibility for the upbringing of the 
Christ Child. To meet these obligations, Joseph had to 
work hard. Far from considering his work distasteful 
or burdensome, Joseph regarded it as the blessed means 
whereby he earned a livelihood for the Holy Family. 

In his work, as in all else, Saint Joseph was just. We 
can interpret this to mean that whether he was build¬ 
ing a cradle for a friend’s baby or a house for a relative, 
his prices were fair and his work was thorough. To all 
his labors he brought deep honesty of workmanship. No 
matter for whom a piece was intended, Joseph fashioned 
it with the skill and love he would have expended on 
it had he been making it for Mary. And the work thus 
accomplished must have won not only the respect and 
admiration of his fellow townsmen, but the loving ap¬ 
proval of Our Lady. With this, Saint Joseph knew com¬ 
plete happiness. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, in you I find the perfect model of 
devotion to Mary, to whom you consecrated your life. 
Teach me to model my devotion to our Blessed Lady on 
the devotion you showed her. Let me offer my work to 
her and invite her to be with me as I work. Help me 
to carry out my assignments in the spirit of Mary and 
to consciously perform my tasks in her honor that, like 
you, I may offer her constant and selfless devotion. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


26 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

If at any time the heart of Saint Joseph burned with 
a desire for justice, it surely did so on the evening when 
he and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. The journey from 
Nazareth had been long and wearisome. Our Lady’s 
fatigue caused Joseph increasing anxiety. At last they 
came upon an inn. It is important to note that Joseph 
had no hesitancy about asking for lodging there. He and 
his wife were not beggars; they had money to pay for 
their room and board. In commenting upon the humili¬ 
ating experience, Saint Luke uses words suggesting Our 
Lady’s mild reserve, "There was no room for them in 
the inn” (Luke 2:7). 

Months of prayer and meditation had brought to Saint 
Joseph some insight into the impenetrable mystery of the 
Incarnation. Already he had comprehended the truth 
which Saint John was to set forth so starkly in the open¬ 
ing chapter of his Gospel: "He came unto His own, and 
His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Here, in this 
city of David, the King whom David prefigured was re¬ 
jected. Here, in Bethlehem, "House of Bread,” there 
was no room for Him who was the Bread of Life. In 
the face of his fellow men’s cold indifference to human 
need, the great heart of Saint Joseph was flooded with 
emotion. For the people of Bethlehem he felt over¬ 
whelming pity. Their ears, attuned only to the frivolous 
din of the world and deafened to charity, could not hear 
their Saviour’s voice as He called to them, "Behold, I 
stand at the door and knock” (Apoc. 3:20). For Mary, 
his soul cried out with what Saint Thomas calls an "in¬ 
satiable desire” for the consideration which in justice 
was due to her. For the unborn Christ whom Mary bore, 








FIFTH DAY 


27 


Saint Joseph burned with the desire that He be recognized 
and accepted among His own. Yet all these emotions 
produced no disquietude of heart. One dominant note 
prevailed: "For those who love God all things work 
together unto good” (Rom. 8:28). From the unjust re¬ 
fusal of men, Saint Joseph turned to the cave of Bethle¬ 
hem; and when "the night in its swift course was half 
spent” (Wis. 18:14), Mary brought forth her Son and 
for Saint Joseph the cup of happiness was full: his heaven 
had begun on earth. 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, pour into my heart an ardent zeal 
for the spread of Christ’s kingdom on earth. Increase 
my fervor, extend the desires of my heart that they may 
include all the desires of Christ. Teach me to be gen¬ 
erous in my prayers that, having the mind of Christ, 
I may offer fervent supplication for priests, for mission¬ 
aries, and for all who labor for the conversion of sinners. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


FIFTH DAY 


"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” 
(Matt. 5:7). 

I. Fidelity to Grace 

T’HE folly of our fellow men, their shallowness, hypoc- 
A risy, irreverence, and malice can be serious stumbling 


28 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


blocks to us. In our zeal we insist upon high standards 
of conduct, but we forget the proper role we should 
play in order to bring them about. A pharisaical hard¬ 
ness of heart impels us to denounce the sinner along with 
the sin and with austere severity to invoke divine justice 
upon the wrongdoers. In a passage of Saint Luke’s Gos¬ 
pel we see our Lord confronted with such an attitude: 
“And [He] sent messengers before Him. And they went 
and entered a Samaritan town to make ready for Him, 
and they did not receive Him.. .. But when His disciples 
James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, wilt Thou 
that we bid fire come down from heaven and consume 
them?’ But He turned and rebuked them, saying, 'You 
do not know of what manner of spirit you are; for the 
Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to 
save them.’ ” (Luke 9:51-52, 54-56) 

The fiery indignation of the two apostles whom Christ 
Himself called ''sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) stands 
out in sharp contrast to the mild and merciful reaction 
of Saint Joseph to a world that refused to welcome his 
foster Son. Christ’s plea on Calvary, "Father, forgive 
them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 
23:34), was anticipated in Saint Joseph’s heart on the 
streets of Bethlehem, on the flight into Egypt, and at the 
time he learned of Herod’s brutal massacre of the innocent 
Jewish babes. If ever man had provocation for resent¬ 
ment or condemnation in the face of human perversity, it 
was Saint Joseph. But he followed the inspirations of 
the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Mercy, becoming in this 
virtue of mercy, as in all others, our perfect model. 
With heroic self-control and with virtue which flowered 
because of his fidelity to grace, Saint Joseph won the 


FIFTH DAY 


29 


right to claim God’s mercy because he was himself a 
perfect example of mercy. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, obtain for me the special grace 
I need in order to be merciful. Help me to distinguish 
between the sin and the sinner and to measure out mercy 
to others as I hope to have God show mercy to me. As 
I recite the Our Father, may I always say with special 
fervor the words: "Forgive us our trespasses as we for¬ 
give those who trespass against us.” 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

Of Adam’s sin, Holy Mother Church sings: "Oh 
happy fault that merited so great and so merciful a 
Redeemer!” Had the creature not sinned, he would 
never have known the full reaches of his Creator’s tender 
forgiveness. Without the example of such mercy, man 
could never have learned how to practice this virtue, 
which elevates him to a dignity high above his fallen 
state. 

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” 
From the Word of God incarnate Saint Joseph learned 
the beauty of mercy. In Mary, "Mother of mercy,” he 
saw this beauty crystallized. Each day, as head of the 
Holy Family, he uttered in prayer the psalms of David 
through which, like a golden motif, runs the praise of 
God’s mercy: "Answer me, O Lord, for bounteous is 



30 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Your kindness; in Your great mercy turn toward me.... 
Great has been Your kindness toward me; You have 
rescued me from the depths of the nether world.... But 
You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to 
anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.... For as the 
heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His 
kindness toward those who fear Him... ; gracious and 
merciful is the Lord.” 

Each day Saint Joseph silently contemplated the mercy 
of God as, close beside him in the workshop, measuring 
a beam, shaping a wagon wheel, wiping perspiration 
from His forehead, his foster Son — the merciful Son 
of God — applied Himself to the work of man’s redemp¬ 
tion. Here was a profound mystery for meditation! As 
though stored in a fathomless reservoir, the mercy of 
God remained apparently untapped during those years of 
the hidden life of Christ. Through long centuries Israel 
lay steeped in sin. Then came John the Baptist, bearing 
witness to the coming of the Saviour and reminding the 
people of the signs which Isaias had said would proclaim 
this advent. Now would the glory of the Lord be re¬ 
vealed (cf. Isa. 40:5). John uttered a ringing summons 
to penance. And when the people asked him, "What then 
are we to do?” he dictated works of mercy: "Let him 
who has two tunics share with him who has none; and 
let him who has food do likewise” (Luke 3:11). All 
this Saint Joseph pondered in his heart. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, whom God has appointed to be 
my model in all aspects of my life: be my model espe¬ 
cially in my life of prayer. Teach me to love the psalms, 


FIFTH DAY 


31 


most of which were composed by your royal ancestor, 
David, and to recite them frequently, as you did, that I 
may praise God for all His mercies to me. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


111. Devotion to Our Lady 

Not infrequently, at the moment of death, the loving 
and merciful Queen of heaven has appeared in vision to 
one of her clients who has cultivated a tender devotion 
to her throughout life. What, then, must have been the 
death of Saint Joseph? His unique relationship to Mary 
surpassed that of any other saint in closeness, tenderness 
and love. So, too, were the circumstances of his death 
unique. Years of close association with Jesus and Mary 
had been its preparation. Constant growth in sanctifying 
grace had marked those years. Death meant merely the 
rending of the thin veil which separates this mortal state 
from life eternal. Son of Adam that he was, Saint Joseph 
was heir to Adam’s punishment. Only by passing through 
the gate of death could he possess immortality. 

Although the Gospel does not describe Joseph’s last 
hours on earth, Holy Mother Church, in her litany in 
his honor, invokes him as "Patron of the dying.’’ She 
seems thereby to confirm the tradition — which certainly 
accords with what one would expect — that Saint Jo¬ 
seph’s last moments were made peaceful and holy by the 
presence of Mary, "our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” 
This was the reward which Joseph’s fidelity to Our Lady 





32 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


and her Son merited for him. "Give, and it shall be given 
to you,” our Lord was to tell His followers; "good 
measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, 
shall they pour into your lap. For with what measure 
you measure, it shall be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). 
How magnificently, at his death, was Saint Joseph re¬ 
warded for his years of devotion to Our Lady and her 
Divine Son! 


Prayer 


Dear Saint Joseph, patron of a happy death, assist 
me in my last hours on this earth. At this moment I 
willingly accept that death which God has appointed for 
me. Obtain for me the grace of final perseverance. Draw 
my thoughts to heaven that amid the pleasures of this 
life I may never lose sight of the goal of all my striving, 
the eternal happiness of heaven. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 


One of the most appealing of Christ’s parables is the 
story of the prodigal son. Three characters appear in the 
story: the spendthrift younger son; the resentful older 
brother, whose boasted virtues did not include charity; 
and the tender, loving, merciful father. Is it not likely 
that in this touching parable Christ drew a picture of 
His own beloved foster father, Joseph? Upon the sensi¬ 
tive mind of Christ there was stamped, in all probability, 
the indelible memory of the joy and relief that flooded 
Saint Joseph’s countenance, the love that burned in his 


FIFTH DAY 


33 


eyes, on that morning in Jerusalem when His parents 
found Him in the Temple. He remembered, too, that 
His Mother had questioned Him and had mildly, but 
firmly, rebuked Him for having failed to accompany 
them as they set out for Nazareth. But Joseph had said 
not a word; he had simply rejoiced to have his Boy 
back again. 

Christ needed not that any man should tell Him, for 
He knew what was in man — and He knew what was 
in Joseph. In the microcosm of a small town like Naza¬ 
reth, the good and the bad, the weak and the strong, 
have their types. Jesus must have met them all; and 
so must Joseph. It is very likely that in the carpenter 
shop He had seen this silent man’s gentle treatment of 
one of the town’s ne’er-do-wells. Or He had observed 
Saint Joseph as he soothed an angry father’s stormy re¬ 
sentment against a spendthrift son, or checked the merci¬ 
less criticism of the town’s gossip. 

One could not conceive of Saint Joseph, whose holi¬ 
ness was so pre-eminent, lacking the Christlike virtue of 
mercy. How comforting is the thought that the Sovereign 
Pontiffs have acclaimed him not only as the ideal whom 
husbands and fathers of families should imitate, but as 
the Patron of the Universal Church. In him, each mem¬ 
ber of Christ’s Mystical Body finds an understanding 
friend, a wise counselor, a merciful intercessor. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, remember the title you hold by 
papal pronouncement, "Patron of the Universal Church.’’ 
As a member of the Church, a member of Christ’s Mys¬ 
tical Body, I invoke you as my special patron, father, 



34 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


and guardian. Intercede for me with your Divine foster 
Son and direct my feeble efforts to reproduce within my 
soul the image of Christ. Be with me, dear patron, in 
life and at the hour of my death. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


SIXTH DAY 

"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” 
(Matt. 5:8). 


I. Fidelity to Grace 

C AINT Luke has provided us with the vivid details of 
^ an episode which emphasizes the truth of Christ’s 
pronouncement: ’'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they 
shall see God.” 

The scene is Jerusalem. A young couple reverently 
approach the Temple. In her arms the mother holds a 
tiny Baby; her husband carries a cage which contains two 
pigeons — the ceremonial offering prescribed for poor 
people upon their presentation in the Temple of their 
forty-day-old baby boy. 

As they make their way through the sacred edifice to 
the appointed spot, the young couple are stopped by one 
who has long been a familiar figure to Temple visi¬ 
tors— "old Anna,” as they call her. Bent beneath the 
weight of more than fourscore years, with eyes grown 
dim and lusterless, she gazes in rapture at the tiny Babe. 


SIXTH DAY 


35 


Then in joyous tones she proclaims Him the Redeemer 
of Israel. The bystanders smile pityingly at her, sur¬ 
mising that her age has affected her wits. But Anna’s 
heart has been purified by prayer and penance. Her vision 
has been illuminated by grace. Looking upon the Infant 
Son of Mary, she recognizes Him as the Messias, the 
Son of God. 

Without a word, but with hearts uplifted in praise 
of God for His gifts to His creatures, Mary and Joseph 
advance toward the altar of the ceremony. Again they 
are stopped. A venerable man, dignified and sure of step, 
moves quickly toward them. Emotion has flooded his 
eyes with tears. Silently he stretches forth his arms, and 
without a question Mary places in them her precious 
burden. After long moments Simeon’s words burst forth 
in a canticle of gratitude and praise. He, too, recognizes 
in Mary’s Babe the long-awaited Redeemer. Responding 
to the grace of the moment — a grace granted as reward 
for his fidelity to grace during many years — Simeon, like 
Mary, like Joseph, like Anna, enjoys a foretaste of the 
bliss of heaven. From his heart, purified by the Living 
Flame of the Holy Spirit, comes the blessed proclama¬ 
tion of this Child as the "Light of revelation to the Gen¬ 
tiles, and a glory for Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32). 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, as I make my examination of con¬ 
science each day, remind me to invoke the Holy Spirit. 
Help me to increase my intimacy with this Divine Guest 
who dwells within my soul that, by His light, I may be 
able to recognize Christ and His will for me in whatever 
disguise He comes to me each moment of the day. 




36 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

The heart and mind of Saint Joseph were stored with 
accounts of the history of his people — the people of 
Abraham, and Jacob, and David the King, through whom 
he traced his own lineage, as Saint Matthew has recorded 
in the first chapter of his Gospel. Joseph knew thoroughly 
the history of the Jewish race — its glorious election by 
God, its perversity and ingratitude, its stubborn sinful¬ 
ness. Moreover, he comprehended the mysterious fact 
of man’s solidarity in sin. Although he had spent his 
whole life in the single-minded effort to live in perfect 
conformity with God’s will and to keep his heart un¬ 
sullied by sin, he knew the oppressive burden of sorrow 
and suffering which is man’s legacy from Adam. He 
knew, too, grief at the present behavior of his race. In 
Bethlehem he witnessed the Jews’ callous indifference to 
Mary in her hour of need. He learned how, in Jerusalem, 
the scribes and chief priests, revealing their knowledge 
of the Messianic prophesies when questioned by Herod, 
yet irresponsibly disregarded them. In Egypt Joseph suf¬ 
fered the neglect, the discrimination which many a refugee 
in a foreign land has experienced. In Nazareth, the little 
town which was so despised — "Can anything good come 
out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) —Joseph saw his Divine 
foster Son offering to His heavenly Father the adoration 
of a perfect life amid the unreceptive, earthly-minded 
townspeople. 


SIXTH DAY 


37 


With vision clarified by grace, Saint Joseph recog¬ 
nized in each situation the failure of his fellow men to 
correspond to God’s designs. And in proportion to their 
failure he intensified his own efforts to offset their sin¬ 
fulness by his own purity of soul. For his zeal, his 
fidelity, his generosity, his fervor there was a blessed 
reward: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall 
see God.” 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, help me to increase my spirit of 
reparation. Obtain for me the grace of fervor in prayer 
that, in union with Christ’s sufferings and death, renewed 
in each holy Mass, I may offer the prayers, works, joys 
and sufferings of each day in reparation for my sins and 
for the sins of the whole world. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


Ill, Devotion to Our Lady 

In an elegant ballroom in the White House in Wash¬ 
ington, two highly polished mirrors hang opposite each 
other. Between them is suspended an exquisite crystal 
chandelier. The reflection of the chandelier in one mirror, 
caught by the other and reflected into the first, and the 
mutual multiplication of reflections creates the brilliant 
illusion of an endless series of chandeliers. 

The life at Nazareth might be compared to that 
room. For about thirty years in his humble dwelling in 
Nazareth, Joseph marveled at the loveliness of Our Lady, 






38 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


who caught and reflected the image of Incarnate Beauty, 
Christ, the spotless Lamb of God. But Mary was not 
the only one lending beauty to that simple home. Gazing 
at His Mother, catching and reflecting God’s image as 
He saw it reflected in her, was Christ, Saint Joseph’s 
foster Son. Mary reflecting Christ, Christ reflecting Mary 
who was reflecting Christ — here was no illusion for 
Saint Joseph, but a reality with mysterious depths. 

The loveliness of Mary, full of grace, eludes any 
artist's pen or brush. But it did not elude the gaze of 
Joseph. In her he beheld afresh each day the attractive¬ 
ness of that hallowed Ark of the Covenant which had 
sheltered for nine months the Incarnate Word. Joseph 
revered Mary as the beloved daughter of the heavenly 
Father, the virgin mother of the Eternal Word, the chaste 
spouse of the Holy Spirit, the immaculate temple of the 
Blessed Trinity. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they 
shall see God.” The intense purity and holiness of Saint 
Joseph’s heart can be deduced from the degree of his 
intimacy with Mary and her Divine Son. God gave him 
the grace of purity that he might be worthy of his voca¬ 
tion. Through his correspondence with this grace, he in¬ 
creased constantly in holiness, fulfilling the mystical 
meaning of his name which signifies "Increase,” or 
"Augment.” 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, I realize that no one can have the 
gift of purity unless God gives it to him. Obtain for 
me the prudence I need to protect this delicate virtue. 
Teach me to imitate your wisdom and fortitude that I 
may reflect in my life this virtue of the strong. 




SIXTH DAY 


39 


Concluding Prayer 


(See page 64.) 


IV, Devotion to the Divine Child 

Two keys are needed to open the precious jewel box 
within which reposes a "pearl of great price,” the re¬ 
splendent virtue of purity. The first of these keys, God’s 
grace, will not be withheld from anyone who humbly 
asks for it in prayer. But God’s grace alone will not 
suffice; there must be co-operation with that grace. Thus, 
a second key is necessary: man’s persistent effort. This 
effort must be exercised in two directions: in times of 
temptation, by prayer and self-discipline; at other times, 
by unremitting devotion to duty. The latter is a form of 
mortification distasteful to human nature. It leaves one 
with a minimum of idle moments — and idle moments, 
it is well known, provide Satan with an ideal opportunity 
for successful attack. 

Here, again, the life of Saint Joseph offers inspira¬ 
tion. In an era in which machinery had not yet stolen 
from man the privilege of exercising the creative powers 
latent in his fingers, the work of a carpenter was ex¬ 
tremely time-consuming. We learn something of the con¬ 
ditions of Saint Joseph’s work from Saint Justin Martyr, 
who wrote in the second century. He tells us that Saint 
Joseph and the Boy Christ made farming implements as 
well as a variety of other indispensable articles. In all 
probability Joseph and Jesus, like other carpenters of 
their time, sought out and felled their own trees in the 
woods, and prepared their own lumber before constructing 
the plows, the furniture, the houses and barns that were 




40 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


needed in Nazareth. All this required muscle-straining 
toil, wearying hours, strenuous attention to details. At 
the same time, it was work conducive to contemplation. 
In the carpenter shop of Nazareth an atmosphere of peace 
and recollection prevailed. It was a sanctuary made holy 
by the presence of the Son of God. Of Joseph pre¬ 
eminently among men it could be said: "Blessed are the 
clean of heart, for they shall see God.” 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, I invoke you as Model of Work¬ 
ingmen. Be my model in all the work I undertake for 
the honor and glory of God. Help me to sanctify, by 
my union with Christ, each moment devoted to work. 
Obtain for me the grace to be humble and to accept each 
task generously as coming from a loving and provident 
Father. May I labor always, whether in obscurity or in 
a prominent position, to use whatever talents God has 
given me to promote His honor and glory and thus merit 
an eternal reward. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


SEVENTH DAY 

^Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called 
children of God” (Matt. 5:9). 

1. Fidelity to Grace 

TN THE seventh Beatitude, Christ declares the peace¬ 
makers blessed. But one cannot be a peacemaker un- 



SEVENTH DAY 


41 


less peace first reigns in his own heart. Peace is the pos¬ 
session of those who have established in their lives, in 
their desires, a proper order — an order which is a re¬ 
flection of the divine order. To achieve this, one must 
regard all creatures, all events, from God’s point of 
view. In each situation of life one must accept God’s 
will and trust in His providence. One must become, as 
Christ Himself recommended, a little child — confident 
in his Father’s goodness and love, secure, docile, and 
carefree. 

Only by the power of grace can one attain this blessed 
condition of mind and heart. Saint Joseph’s correspond¬ 
ence with grace was so complete, so constant, so perfect 
that he acquired this precious peace as a consequence of 
the gift of wisdom which the Holy Spirit poured into his 
heart. By this gift he was able to grasp in each event the 
divinely intended order. 

Consider, for example, the scene in the Temple of 
Jerusalem when the distraught parents found their lost 
Child holding a conference with the Doctors of the Law. 
Mary said to the Boy, “Son,... in sorrow Thy father and 
I have been seeking Thee.” The Child’s answer gently 
but firmly corrected her point of view and established 
the God-appointed order: “How is it that you sought 
Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s 
business?” (Luke 2:48-49) In perfect simplicity Saint 
Joseph, as well as Mary, acquiesced, even though the 
words suggested that the hour had come when Christ 
would leave His home at Nazareth to begin His Mes¬ 
sianic mission. Saint Joseph effectively teaches us how 
to be simple, how to be a peacemaker, how to be worthy 
to be called a child of God. 











42 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, each day at Mass I join the priest 
in saying, "Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of 
the world, grant us peace!" Obtain for me the grace to 
say this prayer with fervor and help me to establish 
firmly peace in my own heart that I may aid in its spread 
to the lives of others. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

In the Mass of Corpus Christi, the Church prays for 
the gifts of unity and peace which are mystically signified 
by the offerings of bread and wine. The Holy Eucharist 
is, indeed, the Sacrament of peace. In this Blessed Sacra¬ 
ment there are present the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity 
of the glorified Saviour; and the constant message of the 
glorified Christ when He appeared to His Apostles after 
the resurrection was "Peace be to you!” Each time the 
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered, the liturgy recalls, 
at the Communion of the Mass, Christ’s words before 
His Passion: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give 
you,” and from the earliest days of the Church the kiss 
of peace was exchanged before participation in the Euchar¬ 
istic banquet. 

Saint Thomas has called the Eucharist the "pledge 
of future glory” wherein the peace of heaven shall be 
unending. And in that heavenly peace Saint Augustine 
says that the union of members of the Mystical Body with 
each other and with Christ, the Head, will be so intimate 






SEVENTH DAY 


43 


that"there will be only one Christ loving Himself.” Such 
is the sublime significance of the finely blended grains 
of wheat and the crushed grapes that constitute the host 
and wine which veil the Sacramental Presence. 

A profound mystery here presents itself. Christ is 
sacramentally present in the Holy Eucharist, truly and 
completely present; but His presence is not limited by 
the shape and the dimensions of the host. And to Christ 
the Head, all members of His Mystical Body are united. 
Through this Blessed Sacrament, therefore, we are all 
mystically united not only to Christ, but to one another 
and to Saint Joseph, to Mary, the Apostles, and all the 
saints — present, past and future. The Blessed Sacra¬ 
ment is indeed the bond of unity. With Saint Paul one 
must exclaim: "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wis¬ 
dom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehen¬ 
sible are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!” 
(Rom. 11:33). The wonder of the mystery invites medi¬ 
tation, and the meditation nurtures our interior life. 
One who, like Saint Paul or Saint Thomas, penetrates 
the depths of the mysteries associated with the Holy 
Eucharist approaches closer to that point where he may 
be enabled "to comprehend... what is the breadth and 
length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love 
which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19). Such con¬ 
templation establishes in our interior life that admirable 
tranquillity of order which is peace. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, help me to make fruitful medi¬ 
tation upon the sublime mystery of the Holy Eucharist. 







44 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Teach me to recognize in this Sacrament the perfect ex¬ 
ample of every virtue: charity, obedience, humility, pov¬ 
erty, silence, generosity, meekness, patience. When per¬ 
sons or situations cause me distress, direct me to confide 
the matter as quickly as possible to Jesus in the Blessed 
Sacrament and to seek there restoration of peace of soul. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


III. Devotion to Our Lady 

The present era has often been called the Age of 
Mary. Those who know and love Our Lady salute her 
under many titles, but they particularly invoke her in 
these troubled times as Queen of Peace. As a matter 
of fact, Our Lady herself gave a striking indication of 
her concern for the peace of the world in the apparitions 
at Fatima. In predicting to the three children the great 
miracle which would take place during her visit in Octo¬ 
ber, the Immaculate Virgin promised: "Saint Joseph will 
come with the Holy Child, and soon afterwards peace 
will be granted to the world.” And while the spectac¬ 
ular miracle of the "dancing sun” gripped the pilgrims 
in awe and terror, the children witnessed a series of 
visions, in one of which Saint Joseph, holding the Infant 
Christ in his arm, made the sign of the cross over the 
world three times. 

From this event three significant conclusions can be 
drawn: first, Our Lady points to her beloved spouse, Saint 
Joseph, as a peacemaker. Secondly, Our Lady indicates 



SEVENTH DAY 


45 


that devotion to Saint Joseph is inseparable from devo¬ 
tion to herself and that neither of them can be separated 
from devotion to the Incarnate Son of God. Thirdly, 
men must learn that, if they would establish peace in the 
world, they must look to the Holy Family and study the 
lessons taught therein. Man’s first duty is to set things 
in order within the family circle. Parents and children 
must be united, must share common interests, must live 
in mutual love and harmony. Charity, which Saint Paul 
calls "the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:14), must prevail 
within this circle and must then move out into ever- 
widening circles to affect society. At the root of most 
family strife there lies, undoubtedly, the ugly trait of self¬ 
ishness. No trace of this ever dimmed the happiness 
of the Holy Family at Nazareth. Consideration, sympa¬ 
thy, generosity, self-control, cheerfulness — amid such 
virtues the days at Nazareth passed blissfully, in peace 
and love, for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, in imitation of your blessed life 
I will strive to preserve peace with those with whom I 
live in closest contact, and I shall try to practice the vir¬ 
tues so attractively exemplified in the Holy Family. Help 
me to develop a living faith that will enable me to rec¬ 
ognize in others the image of Christ, that I may show 
them the courtesy, generosity, and amiability that I would 
show to Him. 


(See page 5.) 


Concluding Prayer 







46 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

The interior life of Saint Joseph was deepened and 
beautified by his constant contact with the Person of the 
Incarnate Word. During those blessed years which we 
call the hidden life of Christ, Saint Joseph enjoyed the 
physical presence of God’s own Son, whose divinity, 
though concealed beneath the veil of human flesh, he 
nevertheless perceived with the eyes of faith. The in¬ 
evitable result of this close contact with Christ was peace. 
As Saint Paul proclaims: ’'He Himself is our peace” 
(Eph. 2:14). Hence, Saint Joseph, living in the blessed 
peace of Nazareth, diffused that peace among his fellow 
men and became united with them through his foster 
Son, who would later make to His Father that prayer 
of all-surpassing charity: "That all may be one” (John 
17:21). 

The peace of Nazareth was, then, for Saint Joseph, 
the prelude to that peace of heaven which is essentially 
union through Christ with the Father. For Saint Joseph, 
the physical presence of Christ was the efficacious cause 
of that peace. For those, however, who were not to ex¬ 
perience His physical presence on this earth, Christ made 
provision through a miracle of love. On the altar, under 
the sacramental species, Christ is as truly present as He 
was in the carpenter shop at Nazareth. But, as Saint 
Thomas points out, in Nazareth only His divinity lay 
concealed; in the Eucharist, both humanity and divinity 
are hidden. 


SEVENTH DAY 


47 


Because of his unique role of shadow of the Eternal 
Father, Saint Joseph was united with the Father, through 
Christ, and thus lived in continual anticipation of the 
face-to-face vision of God in heaven. This same con¬ 
sciousness of the Father, this desire for union with Him 
in heaven, Christ intends His presence among us in the 
Blessed Sacrament to effect. This is the emphatic message 
which He repeated so insistently the night before His 
Passion. Not only is the Holy Eucharist a Sacrament 
which engenders faith and love; it is the basis of our 
hope. It prompts us to view all things sub specie aeterni- 
tatis — in the light of eternity — and thereby to estab¬ 
lish a proper order and peace in our lives. "Blessed are 
the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of 
God." Saint Joseph, in his devotion to the Divine Child 
at Nazareth, sets the example for our devotion to the 
same Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, help me to realize that each time 
I receive Holy Communion I am preparing myself for 
union with God in heaven. Obtain for me an increase 
of the virtue of hope, and inspire me to make frequent 
acts of this virtue that, amid the distractions of earthly 
joys and sorrows, my thoughts may often dwell upon the 
eternal bliss of heaven. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 






48 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


EIGHTH DAY 

"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). 

/. Fidelity to Grace 

1VTOT every "cause of right" constitutes a major issue 
1 of principles, nor does every persecution consist in 
physical assault. In the ordinary course of everyday living, 
God-fearing men and women often endure bitter suffering 
occasioned by the indifference or positive disdain on the 
part of their unsympathetic or belittling associates. 

Often jealousy is the cause of this form of persecu¬ 
tion. Saint Joseph was probably no stranger to such 
suffering, as can be inferred from an episode Saint Mat¬ 
thew describes which occurred during Christ’s public min¬ 
istry on the occasion of His second visit to Nazareth, 
where He had grown up. Entering the synagogue there, 
He taught His fellow townsmen with such authority that 
"they were astonished, and said, 'How did this man 
come by this wisdom and these miracles? Is not this 
the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and 
His brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? 
And His sisters, are they not all with us ?’ ... And they 
took offense at Him’’ (Matt. 13:54-56, 57). 

"Their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongue is a 
sharp sword’’ (Ps. 56:5). The sting of these disparaging 
remarks and the unkind reflection they cast upon those 
who were so dear to Him drew a severe rebuke from the 
gentle Christ, as Saint Luke recounts (cf. Luke 4:23-27). 
The words of Christ were wisdom and power; yet they 


EIGHTH DAY 


49 


were received with incredulity because they were the 
words of the son of Joseph, the carpenter of that lowly 
village of Nazareth — the town of which even the gen¬ 
tlemanly Nathanael laughingly remarked, "Can anything 
good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). The im¬ 
plication is clear: Joseph was, in the eyes of the Naza- 
renes, a craftsman, nothing more. True, he was "of 
the house and family of David” (Luke 2:4), but he 
had not the prestige of the Scribes or Pharisees. For¬ 
tunately, the evangelist has recorded for us the obser¬ 
vation which Christ made on this occasion, expressing 
His perfect understanding of human psychology: "A 
prophet is not without honor except in his own country, 
and in his own house” (Matt. 13:57). Neither Nazareth 
nor any place on this earth was Christ’s true country, nor 
Saint Joseph’s either, any more than it is ours. "Our citi¬ 
zenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). In all afflictions which 
our fellow men cause us, we must remember: "Blessed 
are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs 
is the kingdom of heaven.” 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, teach me, in all the misunderstand¬ 
ings which befall me in this life, to study the life of 
Christ, that I may learn from His example and be com¬ 
forted and strengthened by His words. When the dis¬ 
appointments of this life cast dark shadows on my path, 
lift my thoughts to the kingdom of heaven, my true home, 
where God wills me to live forever with Him in love 
and peace. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 






50 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

Among the stories recounted in the Old Testament, 
none holds more fascination than the story of Joseph, 
the youngest son of Jacob, and his amazing career among 
the Egyptians. Surely Saint Joseph must have reflected 
frequently on this account of one of the same lineage 
as himself. Particularly during his own sojourn in Egypt 
he must have pondered the similarity of circumstances 
which had brought the earlier Joseph and himself into 
this pagan land. "Blessed are they who suffer persecu¬ 
tion for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 
Jealousy, treachery, deceit — such was the pattern Jo¬ 
seph’s brothers had followed in seeking to rid themselves 
of their father’s favorite son. It was this same pattern 
of jealousy, treachery, and deceit that Herod had followed 
in his dastardly efforts to dispose of the Eternal Father’s 
only Son — of whom the Father was to declare: "This is 
My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 
3:17). 

Egypt, the land of strangers, the scene of discouraging 
toil and disappointing rebuffs, nurtured the growth of 
Saint Joseph’s interior life. Here, during the Christ 
Child’s earliest days, His foster father came to realize 
the deep significance of the holy name of Jesus, which 
he had himself given the Child at His circumcision. The 
former Joseph had been the victim of hatred, false wit¬ 
ness, persecution, but in the end became the savior of 
his people. In him Saint Joseph recognized a type of the 
Messias. In Christ, his foster Son, he knew the Messias 
had come. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He 
shall save His people from their sins,” the angel had in- 














EIGHTH DAY 


51 


structed Saint Joseph (Matt. 1:21). Unlike the apostles, 
Saint Joseph had no false notions about the role the 
Messias was to play. He realized that as regards the sin 
of Adam, "without the shedding of blood there is no 
forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). With faith, and hope, and 
love, Saint Joseph accepted the role of suffering which 
was in store for his beloved foster Son. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, with what great reverence you 
must have uttered the holy name of Jesus! Help me to 
increase my own devotion to this holy name. May I spread 
love and reverence for it among others, and by my prayers 
and sacrifices may I offer reparation for the sins of blas¬ 
phemy and the insults committed against this holy name. 
May my favorite aspiration be: "O Jesus, be to me Jesus 
and save me!” 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

Ill, Devotion to Our Lady 

"The occasion does not make the man, it shows you 
what he is.” How well this truth is exemplified by Saint 
Joseph during the flight into Egypt! The tension and 
weariness of that difficult journey put his virtues to a 
severe test. Here, perhaps better than in any other epi¬ 
sode which the Gospels recount concerning him, a study 
of his noble conduct is rewarding. 

As head of the Holy Family, Saint Joseph is the ex¬ 
emplar of the perfect father and the perfect husband. 






52 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


As father, he had to provide for and protect his Infant 
Son. But the Divine Child was still in that helpless stage 
of infancy in which He depended entirely on His Mother 
for food, and found all the security and comfort He 
needed as He nestled in the gentle curve of her arm. 
Mary, on the flight into Egypt, is essentially the Madonna. 
She and her Divine Babe are inseparable. 

Saint Joseph, then, found himself doing everything 
Ad Jesum per Mariam — for Jesus through Mary. Like 
rich jewels in the precious crown which the liturgy of his 
feast bestows upon him ("Thou hast set on his head a 
crown of precious stones" — cf. Ps. 20:4), the virtues of 
Saint Joseph gleam resplendently throughout this mys¬ 
tery of the flight into Egypt. In a prominent place were 
Joseph’s faith in the divine maternity of Mary and in 
the divinity of his foster Son, as well as perfect trust in 
Divine Providence in the face of perplexing vicissitudes; 
there was, too, his cheerful and unquestioning acceptance 
of God’s will and his prompt obedience, combined with 
his forgetfulness of self and utter devotion to duty. Here 
was the first sodalist of Mary, for sodalis means a devoted 
companion. Here was the first "slave of love," demon¬ 
strating true devotion to Mary along the lines which 
Saint Louis de Montfort would later preach to the world. 
In Saint Joseph we can see, too, the first lay apostle, 
setting a pattern which husbands and fathers, and lovers 
of Christ and His Blessed Mother, should follow in their 
pursuit of sanctity. 


Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, be my model and guide in my 
devotion to Our Lady. Teach me to do all "For Jesus 
through Mary." May my words and actions reflect those 







EIGHTH DAY 


53 


virtues which are so dear to Mary and her Divine Son, 
and may my devotion to you, dear Saint, draw me closer 
to the Immaculate Heart of your beloved spouse. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

Only one evangelist records the horrifying story of 
the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. This is Saint Mat¬ 
thew, whose Gospel, tradition says, depends for its ac¬ 
count of events connected with Christ’s Infancy upon 
details gleaned from Saint Joseph. What sorrow must 
have filled the tender heart of this great saint when he 
learned of the unspeakable crime which the jealous 
Herod had committed against the innocent babes in his 
kingdom! Safe in Egypt, Mary and Joseph shuddered 
as they realized what Herod had attempted. They grieved 
for the heartbroken Jewish mothers whose babies had 
been roughly snatched from their arms and cruelly mur¬ 
dered. What a price those infants paid for their re¬ 
semblance in age to the innocent Lamb of God! Yet 
what a glorious reward they immediately received. In the 
Divine Office for their feast, they are celebrated as those 
who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes . . . ; purchased 
from among men, first-fruits unto God and unto the 
Lamb” (Apoc. 14:4). How perfectly is the promise of 
Christ fulfilled in their case as they stand without spot 
or stain before the throne of God: "Blessed are they 
who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the 
kingdom of heaven.” 





54 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


Today the massacre of the innocent is being repeated 
on a scale that defies calculation. Martyrs by the thou¬ 
sands shed their blood in the cause of right. Thousands 
more endure a living death, stripped of their dignity, 
reduced to a subhuman existence. In their pitiful plight, 
their sole comfort and source of strength must be their 
trust in God and in the unfailing promises of His Divine 
Son. Surely the present-day victims of persecution as well 
as their brothers in the Mystical Body should beg Saint 
Joseph to obtain for them the gift of understanding, that 
they may see deep into this mystery of suffering and 
through it attain the kingdom of heaven. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, enlighten me that I may have a 
proper attitude toward pain. Teach me not to dread it 
but to look upon it as my opportunity to share in the re¬ 
demptive act of Christ’s Passion. In my contacts with 
those who are carrying the cross of physical suffering, 
may my words bring them comfort and hope and the 
courage to unite themselves with Christ’s sufferings. 

Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

NINTH DAY 

"Happy the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights 
in His commands .... His heart is firm, trusting in the 
Lord ” (Ps. 111:1, 7) 

I. Fidelity to Grace 

“THE just man shall flourish like the palm tree, like 
a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow” (Ps. 91:13). A 


NINTH DAY 


55 


wealth of meaning can be found in this brief statement 
which the liturgy applies to Saint Joseph. 

Among all trees, the palm is designated as royal. 
Saint Joseph was a prince of the House of David, the 
spouse of the Queen of heaven, the virgin father of 
Christ the King. 

The palm rises to a height generally exceeding that 
of all other trees. The exalted heights of Saint Joseph’s 
dignity can be approached by none other, excepting only 
the Immaculate Mother of God. 

In proportion to its height, the palm tree has sunk 
its roots deep into the earth; thus it stands firm in spite 
of any buffeting by the winds. The steadfastness of Saint 
Joseph’s virtue has won for him the title of "Joseph 
most just.” 

The psalmist, writing in an age less scientifically ac¬ 
curate than our own, held the opinion commonly accepted 
in his day that the palm produced its fruit without pol¬ 
lination. Saint Joseph’s dignity rests upon his position 
as virgin father of Jesus. 

The tall, columnar trunk of the palm is devoid of 
branches but is crowned with large, graceful leaves. Saint 
Joseph’s steady, unspectacular growth in virtue raised 
him to a lofty degree of sanctity which God has crowned 
with honor and glory to the delight of all who gaze 
upon it. 

Finally, the palm is an extremely important and val¬ 
uable plant from the economic point of view. Through¬ 
out history it has served man’s need for nourishment and 
protection and its gracefulness has contributed to the 
arts. In the inspiring Litany of Saint Joseph he is in- 






56 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


voked as "guardian,” "protector,” and "ornament of do¬ 
mestic life.” As Patron of the Universal Church he is 
charged with an over-all responsibility for the care and 
welfare of each member of Christ’s Mystical Body. 

But it is not only the palm tree that adequately sym¬ 
bolizes Saint Joseph. "Like a cedar of Lebanon shall he 
grow” (Ps. 91:13). Three characteristics of the cedars 
of Lebanon apply to Saint Joseph. The wood of this tree 
has ever been highly prized for its fragrance as well as 
for its durability. 

The virtues of Saint Joseph have never ceased to send 
forth an "odor of sweetness”; and time has been power¬ 
less to diminish the glory of this chosen saint, this "wood¬ 
worker” who provided an inviolable shelter for Mary, 
the Ark of the Covenant, as well as a shrine for the In¬ 
carnate Son of God. 

The most distinctive feature of the Lebanon cedar, 
however, is the size of its trunk, from which extend 
widespreading branches. A fitting symbol, this, of the 
all-embracing protectiveness of Saint Joseph! In his de¬ 
votion to Christ — a devotion which today he as gener¬ 
ously directs toward Christ’s extension in time, His 
Church, as he once lovingly bestowed it upon the Boy 
of Nazareth — Saint Joseph stands ready to provide his 
care and protection to all who have recourse to him. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, Prince of the House of David, 
spouse of the Immaculate Mother of God and virgin 
father of Jesus Christ, help me, as I struggle in this valley 


NINTH DAY 


57 


of tears, to rise above the pettiness, the miseries, the 
wickedness of this world. Shelter me beneath your fa¬ 
therly protection, preserve my soul from sin, and by the 
example of your holiness lead me to the kingdom of 
heaven. 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


II. Fidelity to the Interior Life 

Artists find it difficult to depict Saint Joseph. He is, 
in a most special manner, "all things to all men.” In 
symbol, the lily signifies that he is the virgin father of 
the Son of God; the T-square identifies him as Saint Jo¬ 
seph the Worker, upon whom Pope Pius XII bestowed 
fresh honors. Saint Joseph remains the despair of artists, 
however, since his glory does not depend on achieve¬ 
ments which can be denoted by exterior signs. No epis¬ 
copal or regal robes, no insignia distinguished him; he 
carried no crusader’s cross nor did he meet a martyr’s 
death. What set Saint Joseph apart, what elevated him 
to heights of sanctity that we cannot conceive, was his 
love of God, his absolute trust. In hours of silent con¬ 
templation there had been revealed to him his special 
relationship with each of the three Divine Persons: from 
among all men he had been selected to be the shadow 
of the Eternal Father; by his marriage with Mary he be¬ 
came the legal father of the Son of God; it was by the 
overshadowing of the Holy Spirit that the Word be¬ 
came incarnate in his beloved spouse. These were truths 
too sacred to find expression in words. Saint Joseph 






58 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


stored them deep in the recesses of his soul and there 
pondered them in silent prayer. He came to know that 
within him there dwelt the Triune God, upon whom all 
the powers of his soul were concentrated in holy adora¬ 
tion. Beside him, at the carpenter’s bench, toiled the 
youthful Christ, whom he observed advancing from day 
to day in wisdom, age, and grace. When he returned 
home from work at the end of the day, he was wel¬ 
comed by Mary, the joy of Israel, the glory of her people. 

The vocation of Saint Joseph brought him special 
graces, as does the vocation of each soul whom God calls 
to a life of closest intimacy with Himself. Often, as he 
sang the psalms of David, Saint Joseph exclaimed with 
fervor: "Happy the man You choose, and bring to dwell 
in Your courts. May we be filled with the good things 
of Your house, the holy things of Your Temple.” (Ps. 
64:5) His unerring sense of values led Saint Joseph to 
prefer what God had destined him for: a life of virginity, 
of poverty and holy obedience. In the course of such a 
life, constantly increasing his fidelity to the interior life, 
he kept his hope fixed unchangeably on the Lord. For 
his loving trust, his unswerving fidelity, God lavished 
grace upon him, and from the great patriarch’s heart, 
bursting with gratitude, there welled up those words of 
his royal ancestor — words which Holy Mother Church 
has appropriately adopted for the Divine Office of the 
feast of Saint Joseph the Worker: "O Lord, in Your 
strength the king is glad; in Your victory how greatly 
he rejoices! You have granted him his heart’s desire; 
You refused not the wish of his lips. For You welcomed 
him with goodly blessings, You placed on his head a 
crown of pure gold. He asked life of You: You gave 
him length of days forever and ever. Great is his glory 


NINTH DAY 


59 


in Your victory; majesty and splendor You conferred 
upon him. For You made him a blessing forever; You 
gladdened him with the joy of Your presence. For the 
king trusts in the Lord, and through the kindness of the 
Most High he stands unshaken.” (Ps. 20:2-8) 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, in your fatherly hands I place my 
life. Help me to fulfill, as you did, the vocation in life 
to which God has called me. Intercede for me that, like 
you, I may keep my hope fixed unchangeably on the 
Lord and in loving trust give glory to His name in time 
and in eternity. 


Concluding Prayer 

(See page 64.) 

Ill, Devotion to Our Lady 

The degree of Saint Josephs blessedness is best studied 
in his relationship to his immaculate spouse. Three in¬ 
cidents may be selected which highlight Joseph’s great 
love for the commandments of God. The remarkable 
feature of each incident is the proof it gives that, in¬ 
comparable as was his love for Mary, his love for God 
was even greater. 

First, there was Saint Joseph’s decision when it ap¬ 
peared that Mary, his betrothed, had conceived a child 
and the angel had not yet come to him with the reas¬ 
suring message: "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, 
to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten 



60 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). With a firm¬ 
ness that won for him the evangelist’s praise for being a 
"just man,” and yet with a tenderness and sensitivity that 
touched the very heart of God and stirred His immediate 
intervention, Joseph decided upon the mildest course of 
action the law would allow under the circumstances. 
"... Not wishing to expose her to reproach [he] was 
minded to put her away privately” (Matt. 1:19). He 
had the right to bring the case before the village court, 
but he would not even consider doing so, since it would 
almost certainly expose Mary to a shameful judgment 
and punishment. Yet as a law-abiding man he would 
not remain in the false position of taking Mary as his 
wife under the circumstances. Here was an instance of 
that heroic virtue which places duty to God above all 
human considerations. 

Secondly, consider Joseph’s reaction to the edict of 
Augustus, according to which he was obliged to go to 
Bethlehem to register. The time for the birth of Mary’s 
Child was fast approaching. Solicitude for his beloved 
spouse made Joseph reluctant to see Mary undergo the 
hardships and inconvenience which such a journey would 
occasion. Nevertheless, the edict had been issued by the 
lawfully constituted authority of the State. God’s law 
obliged him to obey, for Joseph knew well the principle 
which Saint Paul was later to express so forcefully: "Let 
everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for there 
exists no authority except from God, and those who exist 
have been appointed by God. Therefore he who resists 
the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they that 
resist bring on themselves condemnation.” (Rom. 13:1-2) 
Consequently, his human feelings had to be disregarded. 


NINTH DAY 


61 


Joseph had learned to put first things first. With a gen¬ 
tleness and understanding that more than compensated 
for all the hardships of the unexpected journey, Joseph 
made the necessary preparations and complied with the 
Roman emperor’s command. 

The flight into Egypt likewise emphasizes Joseph’s 
unfaltering adherence to God’s law, which imposed upon 
him the obligation to heed God’s will, once it became 
known to him, regardless of the cost. In this case, an 
angel brought God’s message to Saint Joseph, bidding 
him take his family and hasten, for safety’s sake, into 
Egypt. "So he arose,” the Gospel tells us, "and took the 
Child and His mother by night, and withdrew into 
Egypt” (Matt. 2:14). Saint Matthew’s bare statement 
of the fact leaves it to the reader’s imagination to recon¬ 
struct the hazards of the journey through the desert, the 
heart-gripping anxiety of the parents for the Child’s 
safety, the loneliness, insecurity, and weariness that at¬ 
tended their flight. 

Such is the example of perfect obedience to God’s 
commandments which Saint Joseph’s life provides. 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, I believe that obedience to God’s 
commandments is more important than any self-selected 
act of devotion or self-imposed mortification. Increase 
my faith that I may show to those who are placed over 
me an obedience that is prompt, unquestioning, and com¬ 
plete. May I always recognize in the voice of authority 
the voice of God Himself and come to know the peace 
which accompanies humble submission. 



62 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


(See page 64.) 


Concluding Prayer 


IV. Devotion to the Divine Child 

Fear of the Lord is one of the precious gifts of the 
Holy Ghost. It is the gift which emphasizes particularly 
the filial relationship between the redeemed on earth and 
their Father in heaven. Now, inseparable from the 
thought of the grace of redemption is the grateful mem¬ 
ory of the Eternal Son of God, the Redeemer, the "one 
Mediator between God and men, Himself man, Christ 
Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). And closely linked to the thought 
of Christ the Redeemer should be the thought of His be¬ 
loved foster father, Saint Joseph. 

In the natural as well as in the supernatural order, 
the position of Saint Joseph was unique. The patriarchs 
of the Old Law conformed their lives to the pattern given 
on Mount Sinai, and in faith and hope looked forward 
to the coming of the Messias. In their prayers they often 
repeated the psalm of David: "Happy the man who fears 
the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands.... His 
heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” (Ps. 111:1, 7) In the 
New Law the saints constantly strive to conform their 
lives to the pattern Christ gave on the Mount of the 
Beatitudes, and in faith and hope and love they look back 
upon the thirty-three years of Christ’s life on earth to study 
their Model, and look forward to the second coming of 
Christ in glory. 

Saint Joseph needed to look neither forward nor back¬ 
ward. To his fatherly care and protection was entrusted 
Emmanuel — God-with-us. In die words of the same 
psalm, "He dawns through the darkness, a light for the 


NINTH DAY 


63 


upright; He is gracious and merciful and just” (Ps. 
111:4). In company with Mary, Saint Joseph heard 
Simeon, on the day of the presentation of the Christ Child 
in the Temple, proclaim Him as the "light of revelation 
to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). Saint Joseph, however, 
among all saints whose vocation it is to reflect in them¬ 
selves to a greater or lesser degree Christ, the Light of 
the World, and thus bear witness to His Godhead, was 
selected by Almighty God for a unique role. It was the 
precise vocation of Saint Joseph to conceal the Light of 
the World from men, to foster the hidden life of Jesus, 
to cloak with the veil of common humanity the divinity 
of his foster Son until the time ordained by His heavenly 
Father should come, when the mission of the Messias 
would be made manifest to the world. 

Because of his sublime vocation, his exalted dignity 
as the divinely appointed spouse of Mary and the virgin 
father of Jesus, Saint Joseph's primacy among the saints 
has been recognized by theologians, and Christ’s Vicars 
have proclaimed him Patron of the Universal Church. 
With the same fidelity with which he fulfilled his earthly 
vocation, Saint Joseph can be depended upon to carry out 
his heavenly vocation. Confidently his clients repeat the 
psalmist’s words: "Lavishly he gives to the poor; his gen¬ 
erosity shall endure forever” (Ps. 111:9). 

Prayer 

Dear Saint Joseph, accept me as your devoted client. 
Like you, I wish to be content to fulfill whatever vocation 
Providence has ordained for me. Let me never seek to 
attract attention to myself; rather, let me rejoice when 
others are praised but my good deeds are left unnoticed. 






64 


REFLECTING ON SAINT JOSEPH 


With God’s grace, dear Saint, I shall strive to honor you 
by imitating all your virtues, but especially your humility 
and conformity to God’s will. ( Fourth Prayer below.) 


Concluding Prayers 

First meditation: Almighty Father, from whom all 
graces come: I praise and bless and thank Thee for Saint 
Joseph’s fidelity to grace. Grant that, through his loving 
intercession, I, too, may be faithful to grace. O my power¬ 
ful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for me the favor I now ask. 

Second meditation: Almighty Father, from whom all 
graces come: I praise and bless and thank Thee for Saint 
Joseph’s fidelity to the interior life. Grant that, through 
his loving intercession, I, too, may be faithful to the in¬ 
terior life. O my powerful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for 
me the favor I now ask. 

Third meditation: Almighty Father, from whom all 
graces come: I praise and bless and thank Thee for Saint 
Joseph’s devotion to Our Lady. Grant that, through his 
loving intercession, I, too, may be truly devoted to Our 
Lady. O my powerful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for 
me the favor I now ask. 

Fourth meditation: Almighty Father, from whom all 
graces come: I praise and bless and thank Thee for Saint 
Joseph’s devotion to the Divine Child. Grant that, through 
his loving intercession, I, too, may be truly devoted to 
Jesus. O my powerful patron Saint Joseph, obtain for 
me the favor I now ask. 














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