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!