St. Joseph as Intercessor
March 6, 1994
Brother John Raymond
I was reminded recently by someone that I have never written an
article about St. Joseph. Since March is his month and his feast day
is the 19th I thought this would be a good opportunity to write
about this great Saint.
One of the reasons I feel St. Joseph is neglected by many people
is that we know very little about him. In Holy Scripture there are
no words spoken by St. Joseph. He remains so hidden to us. Yet, this
simple, humble and hidden saint has been declared patron of the
Universal Church, for the family and of workers. There is something
very great about St. Joseph.
When we look at the Blessed Virgin Mary we see that She was
prepared by very special graces, such as the Immaculate Conception,
to be the Mother of Jesus. St. John the Baptist received the great
grace of being sanctified (freed from original sin) in his mother's
womb for his mission as precursor of Jesus. So what about St.
Joseph? What graces did he receive for his mission as the father of
the Holy Family? Some theologians say St. Joseph was sanctified in
his mother's womb just like St. John the Baptist.
Unlike Our Lady we do not honor St. Joseph's parents as saints.
Neither do we honor anyone else in his family, presuming he had
brothers or sisters, as a saint. Some mystics, from their visions,
tell us his family was relatively well off materially. Also these
mystics tell us he had brothers. As Joseph of the Old Testament who
was persecuted by his brothers so we are told St. Joseph of the New
Testament suffered a similar harassment because of his piety. St.
Joseph's family did not appreciate his decision to become a
carpenter. His other brothers occupied more prestigious positions.
Finally St. Joseph left home to pursue his vocation. We are told
that he vowed to God a life of chastity.
From tradition we know that Our Lady from an early age lived and
served in the Temple of Jerusalem. When Our Lady reached the age to
marry the Temple priests presented various men as possible suitors -
St. Joseph being among them. In a miraculous way, tradition tells
us, his staff flowered into a lily indicating that he was the one
chosen by God to marry the Virgin Mary. Imagine how special St.
Joseph must have been for God the Father to choose him to take care
of the two greatest treasures ever given to this world - the Virgin
Mary and His Son Jesus! Some theologians say St. Joseph was the
image of God the Father on earth. St. Peter Julian Eymard called him
the "Shadow of the Eternal Father."
St. Joseph doesn't seem to have done anything extraordinary. He
did not go off and live as a hermit. He grew up in an average
family. He married and worked as a carpenter. In a word, St. Joseph
lived a life typical of most people - or did he? What made St.
Joseph so great? Where are the miraculous works that we so identify
with great sanctity? Well, I think we have to say his greatness can
be found in his ability to love - to love Jesus and Mary. I don't
think we can even begin to imagine with what love St. Joseph cared
for Them. I remember reading somewhere that St. Joseph had such a
tender heart that had he witnessed the sufferings of his Son on the
Cross he most certainly would have died himself. God in His mercy
spared him from this.
What has all this to do with prayer? First, St. Joseph is the
example of living a life of intense prayer and love in the midst of
the world. We need to turn to St. Joseph for help in doing all our
actions with a profound love for God - just as if like we were doing
them for Jesus and Mary. Second, fathers of families need the help
of St. Joseph to fulfill their own special vocation. St. Joseph
became a great saint (some say the greatest after Our Lady) by the
same vocation. Third, we should turn in prayer to St. Joseph to
protect our families - perhaps even consecrate your family to him
(For information about this consecration write to Mr. & Mrs. Edmund
Hall, 12 Alma Ave., Belmont, MA. 02178 or call 1-617-484-7492 and
leave your name and phone number on the answering machine.) Fourth,
pray to St. Joseph for any material needs - he provided for the Holy
Family and his intercession in this area has a long history of proof
in the lives of individuals who turned to him. Finally, pray to him
for a happy death - he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. May he
obtain this great grace for us also!