My Dear Friends,
It is always with great spiritual joy that we celebrate our holy patriarch and patron St Joseph. His discreet but essential role in the life of Our Lord and Our Lady is one which inspires us, attracts us, draws us ever more into silent adoration. Indeed, Holy Scripture, even though recording a number of actions of St Joesph, does not relay to us a single one of his words. The only words we know he pronounced for sure, and often, were JESUS and MARY – and those two words suffice.
The silence of St Joseph is what leads him to discover at an ever deeper level the marvels of Divine Grace at work in his own home, under his very eyes. It is what allows him to grow in all the virtues. On this day, we can reflect upon a few of them.
First of all, his undaunted confidence in God. The trials of the Holy Family were many, and they were serious: possible misunderstandings and scandal due to the unexpected and unusual manner of the conception of the Divine Infant, danger of bloody persecution and death at the hands of a wicked tyrant, real poverty which is due to the persecution, exile in a foreign land for the space of several years where he had to work hard to earn the bread of the Holy Family. In the midst of it all, St Joseph trusts in God; he knows that God is in control, and that there is nothing to worry about. The most conclusive evidence of this total confidence of our saint is his capacity to sleep in the torment. The angel is obliged to appear to him in dreams; he is not staying awake worrying and fretting, as we would probably have done. The sleep of St Joseph contains a very profound lesson for us all, in moments when the future is uncertain and God’s plan is undecipherable. It is normal that we cannot fathom His ways, for He is God and we are mere mortals. Let’s learn how to sleep through the tempest, and listen to the angels.
Secondly, his obedience. When Joseph is ordered to take Mary into his home, when he is commanded to flee into Egypt and again several years later to return. In every instance, he obeys without delay and without understanding. He could have had a thousand objections. Why do we have to run away? Is this child not God? If He is, He has nothing to fear, right? Why to Egypt? Why not simply across the Jordan, or to some other location closer to home and where we know the language? St Joseph does not ask any questions, for he knows God is in control. He is the servant, he will obey and be the minister of salvation, as this morning’s hymn tells us: he served God’s plan of salvation and made it possible thanks to his unquestioning obedience. Let us learn the value of obedience, the bonum obedientiae, of which St Benedict speaks in the Rule, for we know with the book of Proverbs, that the obedient man goes from victor to victory – vir obediens loquetur victorias.
Third, his purity. When we consider that to Joseph was given to live in the intimacy of the married life with the Immaculate Virgin, the level of his own purity becomes all too clear. God would not have entrusted His greatest treasure to anyone but the most reliable, the most pure, the one who could be trusted with the treasure of the universe, thanks to his angelic virtue.
Finally, a fourth virtue we can consider today is his courage, we might say his manliness. St Joseph is no weakling, he is no coward, he does not run away from the challenges and trials, the burdens and tasks. He rises to meet the challenges and acquits himself in a worthy and manly way. In our tradition this is the cardinal virtue of fortitude, and it is a virtue we see little of today.
Let us ask St Joseph for a share in these virtues which he practiced to an eminent degree. Let us ask him to inspire men of the Church, bishops and priests, with the courage, the fortitude to preach the word of God with boldness. May he inspire the bishops to use both ends of their crozier, the top curbed end to keep the sheep within the fold, the bottom pointed end to ward off the attacks of wolves, that is to say, heretics and perverts, satellites of Satan, who corrupt the faith and morals of the children of the Church. May the clergy rediscover the boldness of the apostles and be ever ready to shed their blood for the faithful, for the truth, for holiness, and never compromise the honour of the Immaculate Bride of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church.
Let us ask St Joseph to raise up many holy fathers of families who with pure and courageous hearts, will not allow the Christian family to be violated, who will defend the virtue and faith of their wives and children without fail, and even at their own cost. The true father must be ready to shed his blood for his family as Christ shed His blood for His Church.
Let us ask St Joseph to watch over the feminine half of the Church, just as he watched over Mary Immaculate, to restore and protect chastity, to inspire many young women with the desire to consecrate their lives to God and work strenuously for the restoration of female religious life in our Church.
Good Saint Joseph, look upon the flock of Jesus, who in this life looked up to you as to His Father. Protect the Mystical Body of Christ as you did His physical body. Do not allow the enemy of our race to prevail. O Thou the terror of demons, cast down into the infernal abyss all the devils who are undermining our Church, destroying our families, corrupting our youth. Under Thy protection, may the holy Church of God come to know a new era of peace, that she may once again be the light of nations for the salvation of many souls.