St. Joseph occupies a high place in the hierarchy of saints, just below the Blessed Virgin. Like Mary, he said yes to God. His yes enabled him to protect Jesus and Mary, repeatedly. Like Mary he was chosen, chosen because of his lineage and his righteousness. He practiced leadership with humility. There are abundant reasons why you should develop devotion to St. Joseph. Learn about his life, and the blessings of his intercession.
What do we know about St. Joseph?
Scripture is our guide in all we know about St. Joseph. We know he was son of Jacob, of the line of David; his was a royal lineage. This gave him the appropriate bloodline to serve as Jesus adopted father, and to complement Mary’s similar lineage.
We know that Joseph was a righteous Jew, devout in his faith and virtuous in his life. He went further than the law of the Pharisees, as evidenced when he discovered Mary, the young bride to whom he was espoused, was pregnant. He sought to divorce her quietly, rather than subject her to the punishment the law prescribed: public stoning, until death.
We know that Joseph was open and obedient to God’s call. His dreams guided him to accept marry as his bride, so he could protect her and her unborn child. Likewise, he protected the baby Jesus and Mary, when he swept them off to Egypt because of a dream, and when he brought them to Nazareth, again, because of a dream.
He occupied both the leadership role in the earthly Holy Family’s life, and he maintained a quiet and humble presence within the Holy Family. He led when needed. He worked hard as a carpenter to provide for the family’s material needs. No doubt, he led them in daily prayers and temple devotions, as is customary for Jewish fathers. He made critical decisions as the head of the household.
Yet, no doubt, his righteousness was affected by the grace that surrounded in: living in the very presence of Son of God and his Blessed Mother.
How St. Joseph can help us
Joseph was a man, fully. He did not have an immaculate conception, like Mary. He was not the Son of God. Yet, he said yes to live in their presence, and to serve, as God called him to do.
As I think of St. Joseph, I wonder: Wow, what is it like to live in the presence of Jesus and Mary? And then I smack myself, but I do! As Catholics, we live in the presence of the Bread of Life, who sustains us. Mary is ever-before us, Jesus’ mother who is our Blessed Mother as well. And, by extension, St. Joseph is our beloved uncle as well.
I have a beautiful statue of St. Joseph, cuddling Jesus as a baby in one arm and holding lilies (symbols of purity) in his other arm. His face looks affectionate, yet solemn. His purity reflects and complements the divinity he held in his arms.
St. Joseph tells us how to live in the presence of Jesus and Mary. There is work we are given to do, there are vital decision we must make in how we lead our lives, and those to whom God entrusts us. We are to work hard and to remain faithful, always open to God’s voice, obedient to His direction, yet humble in our daily walk.
St. Joseph is the patron of workers, providers, and therefore traditionally, fathers. Yet, we know many women contribute to providing for families, and many of them manage the family’s income. St. Joseph is a patron for women as well. He is also the patron of those who are dying, because his death preceded Jesus’ return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton exercised devotions to St. Joseph which can be a model for us all. As a widowed mother of five, foundress of a school and order, she struggled with abject poverty. She took all her material needs to St. Joseph, and the blessings poured forth.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was also an Episcopal Convert, like me. She holds a special place in my heart, and her devotion to St. Joseph for all material needs is one I’ve emulated. Hence, St. Joseph, with Jesus snuggled in his arms, sits before me, where I write and where I pay the bills. When I look at the financial needs of my family, I ask for St. Joseph’s intercession frequently. These prayers are always answered.
Prayers to St. Joseph
From the litany: O God, who in thine unspeakable providence did vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of thy most holy Mother, grant, we beseech thee, that we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven whom we venerate on Earth as our protector.
Also, check out another article I wrote about St. Joseph, with practical suggestions for celebrating St. Joseph’s feast with as much fun and solemnity as you do St. Patrick’s.