Favors Granted to Saint Joseph
Who is St. Joseph and Why Does He Deserve So Much Honor?
THE Holy Ghost has willed to make the genealogy of the glorious
St. Joseph known to us so exactly, that we need only read the Gospels of St.
Matthew and St. Luke to be acquainted with all his ancestors. By birth he is
a prince of the royal house of David; his ancestors are the patriarchs, the
kings of Juda, the great captains of the people of God, the most illustrious
among the sons of men. Yet this descendant of David was reduced to obscurity,
and lived a poor and humble life.
The Evangelists would appear to give Joseph two fathers; but the contradiction
is only apparent. St. Luke says he was the son of Heli, who, however, died childless;
while St. Matthew calls him the son of Jacob, because, according to several
commentators, Jacob, brother of Heli, espoused his sister-in-law Esta as the
law of Moses commanded, by whom he had Joseph, who was thus the son of Jacob
by nature, and the son of Heli according to the law.
The poverty of the family and the custom of the country obliged Joseph to learn
a trade. We do not know positively if he worked in wood or in iron, since the
holy Fathers are divided on this point. The more general opinion is, however,
that he was a carpenter. St. Justin, in his dialogue with Triphon, adds that
the Child Jesus acted as His adopted father's little apprentice, assisting him
to make yokes and ploughs.
It is a pious belief of some authors that St.
Joseph was sanctified in his mother's womb Suarez does not go so far. Still
we must allow that the partisans of this opinion support it by solid reasons,
which have a great appearance of truth.
There can be no doubt that this great Saint was a virgin. Cardinal St. Peter
Damian affirms it so positively that he seems to make it an article of faith.
Some learned authors even hold that by a special inspiration of God he made
the vow of virginity. Such is the belief of the great chancellor Gerson, of
St. Bernardin of Siena, of Suarez, and of several others. In any case we cannot
doubt that he had lived a pure angelical life when he united himself by chaste
bonds to the Virgin Mary, his one and only spouse.
A secret inspiration from Heaven caused both Mary and Joseph to contract this
alliance, while adoring in their hearts the impenetrable counsel of the great
God. Mary was in her fifteenth year; the age of Joseph is not known so exactly,
tradition being silent on the subject. The opinion that he was about eighty
years old is without reasonable grounds, and is not held by theologians, the
most esteemed of whom think that he was neither an old man nor a youth, but
in the prime of life, between thirty and forty. There are many reasons in support
of this opinion, which is now generally held.
Shortly after this virginal marriage had been celebrated with due solemnity,
it pleased God to send the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, that he might announce
to her the Mystery of the Incarnation, and explain to her that in becoming mother
of her Creator, she should not cease to be a virgin: As the mystery was not
at once revealed to St. Joseph, he was in sore perplexity, until the Angel of
God appearing in a dream, reassured him, by explaining that the fruit of Mary
was the work of the Holy Ghost.
The life of the two spouses in this angelic marriage resembled two stars,
mutually enlightening each other by their gold and silver rays, without ever
coming in contact.
Later, I shall speak of the happiness of this holy life, and with what plenitude
of celestial favors God enriched this Divine household. For the moment, I shall
content myself with showing how the dream of the first Joseph was verified in
The former Joseph
saw himself, in a dream, adored by the sun, the moon, and eleven stars. Only
later on in Egypt did he understand this vision, when his father, his mother,
and his brethren, prostrate at his feet, adored him as the savior of the land.
The son of the patriarch Jacob was, however, only a type, destined to enhance
the splendor of that other Joseph, whom God delighted to make so great, whom
Jesus Christ the true Sun of Justice honors as His father, whom Our Lady, called
in the Canticles beautiful as the moon, reveres as her lord and spouse, whom
the Angels and Saints, who are the stars of heaven, venerate as foster. father
and guide of that Infant God, Whose servants they esteem themselves happy to
The date of St. Joseph's death is uncertain; we know only that it took place
before the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What an entrancing sight to behold
him expire, one hand in that of Jesus, the other in that of Our Lady; breathing
forth his blessed spirit on the bosom of the Savior God! To die thus is not
to lose life but to overcome death. Some authors believe, and with reason, that,
Joseph was among those Saints who, on Ascension Day mounted up to Heaven, body
and soul, with Jesus Christ. Who indeed deserved more to accompany Jesus in
His triumph, than he who accompanied Him so lovingly in His exile in Egypt,
and during the laborious pilgrimage of His holy life? We may therefore piously
believe that as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived united upon earth, bearing the
same sufferings, so they now t are reunited, body and soul, partaking the same
glory. Such is the belief of the devout St. Bemardin of Siena, and even of Suarez,
whose usual reserve gives great weight to his opinion in this case. It is true
that faith teaches us nothing on this point; but devotion speaks loudly, and
has on its side weighty reasons, and great authorities.
Taken from Divine
Favors Granted to St. Joseph by TAN
Books & Publishers, Inc.
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