Monday, March 12, 2007


May is the Month of Mary. Yet, as I learned from my earliest years, we also honor Mary when we honor Joseph. The Church’s Magisterium makes this abundantly clear. March 19th is the Feast of Saint Joseph. We also begin the month of May with the feast of Saint Joseph, The Worker. Pope Leo XIII taught magisterially that, aside from Our Lady herself, Saint Joseph is the greatest saint in heaven. Pope Pius IX named Joseph The Universal Patron of the Church.

To develop a deep appreciation of the Husband of Mary, we must set aside some perceptions that stubbornly cling to him. Was Joseph an old man in his eighties with a long white beard? Had he been married previously? Some ancient historians have portrayed him in this fashion. Bear in mind however that one of their prime concerns was to safeguard belief in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. Would it not be wise then, to portray an aged Joseph who poses no problem? Moreover, children by a previous marriage would explain easily references to Jesus’ “brothers and sisters.”

Do these perceptions of Joseph pass the test of reason or indeed, faith? Theologians of more recent vintage would argue that they do not. Would the Father have subjected the “Apple of His Eye” to the ridicule and embarrassment that inevitably would plague a sixteen-year-old maiden who married a man of eighty? How could an old man rise from his sleep and “in haste” assume the protective role of the arduous and perilous Flight into Egypt?

Was it necessary to counter references to Our Lord’s “brothers and sisters” by Joseph’s children from a prior marriage? Of course not! Joseph Most Chaste is not a title that he earned by default. The Husband of Mary, eternally selected by the Father, was a virtuous man in the full vigor of his youth. Saints Jerome and Augustine, the greatest of Scripture scholars, staunchly defend the mutual perpetual virginity of Joseph and Mary.

Joseph loved Jesus and Mary from the very depth of his soul. They returned his love profoundly! Recall the three-day loss of Child Jesus. When the Holy Couple found Him in the temple, Our Blessed Mother said: "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow." “Your father!” Jesus was the Son of God! No one knew that better than Mary. Yet, your father! Why? Our Lady’s words acknowledge the profound love and respect that they had for Joseph.

Pope Pius XII said that Joseph showed Jesus, "all the natural love and all the affectionate solicitude that a father's heart can know." No father loved a son as Joseph loved Jesus; no son loved a father as Jesus loved Joseph. When Our Lord took His first steps, Joseph held His hand. Together in the carpenter shop, they talked, worked, laughed, and prayed. The Virgin Mother was never far away. She never is! Visitors to the holy home literally breathed in the love that wafted through the air.

Fathers! Saint Joseph is your model! Lead your family’s life of faith by the example of Joseph. In these days when families are under diabolical attack, seek his heavenly help. Wives! Pray to Saint Joseph! The Guardian of the Holy Family will become the guardian of all who call upon him. Children! Pray to Saint Joseph! He will teach you to be obedient to your parents, as was Jesus.

One day, the inevitable time designated by God the Father arrived. Jesus was about to begin His public ministry. Never must there be a doubt that when Our Savior invoked the name of His Father, He meant His Heavenly Father. And so God called Joseph from the happiness of his earthly home to the bliss of his eternal heavenly home.
Pope Leo XIII named Saint Joseph The Patron of a Happy Death. Let the eye of our imaginations take us back to his holy deathbed. As Pope Benedict tells us, Joseph’s silence speaks volumes. Joy filled the scene, for with the Holy Family there is always joy. Yet, they were deeply saddened. Joseph was about to leave them in this life. In still supreme peace, surrounded by heaven’s angels, embraced by the arms of Jesus and Mary, Joseph closed his eyes. Grief engulfed the hearts of Jesus and Mary. They wept!

My dear friends! Go to Saint Joseph in all of your needs! He answers every prayer. Beloved Saint Joseph! Pray for our families! Pray for our youth! Pray for our diocese and for the Universal Church! Glorious Saint Joseph, Patron of a Happy Death! Grant us that we too may die in the arms of Jesus and Mary!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may we breathe forth our last in union with you! Amen!

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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