St Joseph has got to be one of my favorite saints of all time. This well-known saint is often overlooked and not enough is known about him. So how well do we know St Joseph? St John of the Cross once said of St Joseph; ‘I did not understand him well enough, but that will change’. Matthew’s gospel describes him as a “just man” (1:19). He is the patron saint of the Universal Church, and people invoke his aid for workers, families, home buyers and sellers, and the grace of a happy death, among other things.
St Joseph, the terror of demons, is more important now more than ever, to help defend marriage and the family, raise morals and win souls over to Jesus Christ. We need to invoke the power of St Joseph every day. With his powerful spiritual fatherhood and love for his spiritual children, through his intercession, the Church can be renewed as a light to all nations. The Church needs St Joseph to help combat Satan’s deceptions. By the example of St Joseph and through his protection, he can help us better understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life. St Pope John Paul II, in an apostolic exhortation on St Joseph, emphasized the importance of invoking St Joseph in re-evangelizing the world. In Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, we read;
“The essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love. Hence the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church his bride.”(18) This being the case, it is in the Holy Family, the original “Church in miniature (Ecclesia domestica),”(19) that every Christian family must be reflected. “Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families.”(20)
What a powerful imagery, the home is a domestic Church and a prototype for all Christian families. We can learn so much from St Joseph as head of the family, a term which is often frowned upon in today’s society. God established the family and designated fathers to be heads of their families. It is important to point out that this does not mean that men are better than women, on the contrary, the greatest human person ever lived was not a man but a woman – Mary, the Mother of God, remember Jesus is a divine person. If men begin to imitate St Joseph in their lives, this crisis in manhood can be corrected. St Joseph’s fatherly example shows that strength, authority, and headship are meant to be at the service of others. As head of the family, St Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt protecting and caring for them. This journey was not an easy journey for the Holy Family, at that time Egypt was a very dangerous place, with thieves and pagan practices. Living in exile during those years in Egypt must have been very difficult for St Joseph. If you read the mystical revelations of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, the hardships of the Holy Family in Egypt were felt especially by St Joseph. The responsibilities as loving head of the family to take care, provide and protect Mary and Jesus were on St Joseph’s shoulders, in a time where work was hard to get, not enough food, water, or housing.
He was a man who must have been extremely pure of heart because he was married to the most beautiful woman ever and they remained virgins. Saint Joseph also had the role of raising and educating the Messiah. That’s the next level of holiness! A beautiful book entitled ‘The Life of St Joseph’, recounts visions where Our Lord Jesus Christ appears to Sr. Maria Cecilia Baij in 1736 and shares with her the life of St Joseph. Saint Joseph is seen living his life hidden in the Divine Light of Sacred Mysteries. He was a living prayer of faith and trust, dedication, and especially humility.
In Matthew chapter 2, we are told that Joseph fled into Egypt with Jesus and Mary, saving Jesus from the wicked intentions of Herod. Joseph saved Jesus’s life so Jesus could save us. Throughout St Joseph’s life, he suffered from poverty, exile, hardship, fatigue, ridicule, and many other hardships. Without St Joseph’s sufferings, we would not have the Saviour to set us free from sin and death.
I encourage you to read more about St Joseph and pray to him daily for his intercession. Below are some prayers to St Joseph.
St Joseph ora pro-Nobis
This prayer is among the earliest prayers to St. Joseph, (from around A.D. 50) and also one of the best known:
Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen