“Saint Joseph did not do extraordinary things, but rather by the constant practice of the ordinary and common virtues, he attained that sanctity which elevates him above all other saints.”—St. Joseph Marello (Saint and Pope Quotes)
This Saturday, March 19, is the Feast of St. Joseph. Let us recall his loving foster fatherhood to Jesus and holy spousal relationship with Mary. Though there are no words of Joseph recorded in Scripture, St. Joseph has so much to teach us. With humbleness, we can look to him to be inspired how to love our family.
The key aspects of this reflection will come from Redemptoris Custos the Apostolic Exhortation given by Pope St. John Paul II on August 15, 1989.
Marriage Made by the Holy Spirit
Are we not to think that the love of God which has been poured forth into the human heart through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rm 5:5) molds every human love to perfection? This love of God also molds-in a completely unique way-the love of husband and wife, deepening within it everything of human worth and beauty, everything that bespeaks an exclusive gift of self, a covenant between persons, and an authentic communion according to the model of the Blessed Trinity. (RC 19)
The gift of love to one another expressed daily by Mary and St. Joseph speaks volumes as to what marriage is supposed to be. A gift of self for the other to enable both souls to enter Heaven together. If engaged couples and married couples looked a little bit closer at this part of marriage, imagine how much stronger marriages and families would be. Allow the Holy Spirit to touch our marriages and awaken in our hearts the communion of love that can exist between two people. Pray to St. Joseph for an awakening to true love and commitment within marriages and families. Seek to love our spouse with the genuine love of St. Joseph and Mary.
Parenthood Calls for Heroic Action
“[St. Joseph] certainly came to discover ever more fully the indescribable gift that was his human fatherhood. (RC 21)
Being a parent takes heroic virtue. It is not an easy task or for the faint of heart. Parenthood is so critical as the parents must lead the family in the pathway God has planned for them. St. Joseph was the one throughout Scripture that was communicated to in order to protect Mary and Jesus. His humble and obedient leadership is the ultimate example for all fathers. So let us help fathers to embrace this vocation with deeper devotion and intentionality. Mothers and children, let us build up our fathers and work alongside of them. Let both parents come to see parenthood as the indescribable gift that it is to protect their family and lead them closer to God.
Work to show love
“What is crucially important here is the sanctification of daily life…he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things-it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic.” (RC 24)
Parents’ work is an expression of love as they provide for their families. The long hours and stress they take upon themselves is a testament to their devotion. The work of St. Joseph as a carpenter is not known in detail. However, his hard work provided for the Holy Family and his work ethic was a witness to all parents of how to protect and provide for their families with genuine love. Take time often to appreciate the work of our spouse whether inside or outside of the home. Toil alongside our spouse in expressing love at home.
Our interior life must take a leading role
“Furthermore, in Joseph, the apparent tension between the active and the contemplative life finds an ideal harmony that is only possible for those who possess the perfection of charity.” (RC 27)
St. Joseph knew that parents could not become too busy with work to make time for being with God. He knew that constant communication with God through daily prayer and contemplation put his active work in the correct perspective. This balancing of both is something that must be a part of family life for it to truly thrive. God’s voice and guidance must be heard above the noise of daily demands. Whether father or mother, let us commit to daily prayer.
We need his protection
Even today we have many reasons to pray in a similar way: “Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin…graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness…and just as once you saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God’s holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity.” Today we still have good reason to commend everyone to St. Joseph. (RC 31)
St. Joseph did an incredible job of protecting his family. We look to him to guide us in the protection of our families at home and our church family. Allow his witness to stand heads above the culture’s view of parenthood and become a parent of our own little holy family through authentic and intentional faithfulness.
Good St. Joseph, our father and protector, pray for us and for the whole world.
Pope and Saint Quotes about St. Joseph retrieved from https://d2y1pz2y630308.cloudfront.net/2805/documents/2021/5/Pope%20and%20St%20Quotes%20-%20St.%20Joseph%205-7-21.pdf
(RC) Redemptoris Custos Apostolic Exhortation by Pope St. John Paul II in 1989 retrieved from https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_15081989_redemptoris-custos.html
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Sacrament Preparation Catechist