Saturday 31st January 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary… Reflecting On St. Joseph At Christmastide

December 30, 2013 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

The main focus during the season of Christmastide is naturally on the newborn Christ, whose birth we are celebrating, and then in a secondary way on His Blessed Mother, our Lady, whose great faithfulness made the Incarnation possible. St. Joseph, though, tends to remain in the background. He is there certainly in the Christmas story, but he is overshadowed by the Child Jesus and the Blessed Virgin.
Yet, the Holy Family was in Bethlehem because Joseph, who was of the House of David, had to travel to Bethlehem, the City of David, along with Mary, in order to register for the census called by the Emperor Caesar Augustus. Without this pressing necessity, Jesus would have been born in Nazareth, and the prophecies would not have been fulfilled, particularly this prophecy from Micah, who lived about 700 years before Christ:
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
So it is fitting to also look at St. Joseph during this joyful time. This series of articles will look at the life and role of this great saint in the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, and also at how devotion to him in the Church grew from very humble beginnings to become widespread amongst Catholics.
What we know of him in historical terms is found in the opening chapters of the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Gospel of St. Luke. There is other information that has come down to us via the apocryphal writings — that is, writings which were ultimately not accepted by the Church — which were in circulation during the early centuries. But while some of what they contain about him may be true, it is only in the Gospels that we have absolute certainty, since the Church has accepted only them as canonical.
And what is in the Gospels about him is so little! We would love to know more. But we do not even have any record of anything he said. St. Joseph played a very important role as the foster father of Jesus and the spouse of our Lady, but he did it quietly, remaining in the background.
As indicated above, Joseph was of the House of David, and the tribe of Judah, and from the Gospels we learn that he was born in Bethlehem, the City of David near Jerusalem. His genealogy, or family history, is given in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. At the time when he entered into his great role as head and protector of the Holy Family, he was living in Nazareth in Galilee, far to the north of Bethlehem. The reason for this move is uncertain, but perhaps it was due to the necessity of finding work there as a carpenter.
From what we know, it was at Nazareth that St. Joseph became betrothed to our Lady, and in all probability, his marriage to our Lady took place after the Annunciation to her by the Angel Gabriel, when he told her that, providing she gave her consent, she was to become the Mother of God.
It is from the apocryphal writings that the idea of Joseph being an old man originated, and they also give details of the story that he was chosen to be our Lady’s spouse in a miraculous way. But given the difficulties he had to endure in looking after Mary and Jesus, it is unlikely that he was very old, and it is more probable that he was in his 30s or perhaps his 40s when Jesus was born.
According to St. Augustine (354-430), and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who have been regarded as amongst the foremost Catholic thinkers, although the marriage of our Lady and St. Joseph was a true marriage it was a chaste and virginal one.
The distress of St. Joseph on finding out that our Lady was with child, following the Annunciation of the birth of the Christ Child to her by the Angel Gabriel, was thus considerable, and his faith in her was undoubtedly put to the test.
From this we can already get an idea of Joseph’s holiness and greatness, in that his reaction was very different from what might have been expected. Instead of reacting angrily, to spare our Lady any embarrassment he resolved to send her away quietly. For this reason St. Matthew described him as a “just man.”
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).
St. Joseph did not delay, but when he awoke he took steps to make Mary his wife, and then, some time later, when the baby was due, it became necessary for them to go to Bethlehem in order to comply with the order from the Roman emperor for a census. This must have been a difficult journey for both of them, but their distress was compounded when, on arriving at Bethlehem, they could find nowhere to stay, even though the birth was imminent.
Here, too, was a strong test of Joseph’s faith. The holy couple eventually found some lodging, traditionally located in caves outside Bethlehem, and it was here that our Lady gave birth to Jesus without the usual pains of childbirth. What a mysterious and wonderful event that must have been for Joseph, and to be part of such a marvel.
The Gospel of Luke then outlines how local shepherds, alerted to the miraculous birth by hosts of angels, came to reverence the Child, and also how Mary pondered on all these things in her heart, an attitude of awe and contemplation surely shared by her silent spouse. St. Joseph was also with our Lady when she went up to the Temple for the Presentation of the Baby Jesus, but he remained in the background as the aged Simeon spoke to Mary and prophesied how her Child was destined to be a sign of contradiction for many in Israel, and spoke about how a sword of sorrow — the crucifixion — would pierce her soul (Luke 2:34-35).
The next article will look at role played by St. Joseph in the life of Jesus at events such as the coming of the Magi, the Three Kings, to visit Jesus, the Flight into Egypt, and His Finding in the Temple at the age of twelve, as well as the growth of devotion to the saint in the early Church.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian apparitions, and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

S.F. Catholic Church priest bans girls as altar servers

A Catholic priest, new to San Francisco and no stranger to controversy, has banned girls from acting as altar servers at Mass, a decision that sets his parish apart from all others in the archdiocese. The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor…Continue Reading

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: No To Ecclesial Elites Who Privatize The Faith

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis says ecclesial elites who form cliques and scorn others are privatizing the faith and not following the way of Jesus.  His words came during his homily at morning Mass on Thursday (29th January) celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s homily was a reflection on the need for Christians to follow Jesus in the way…Continue Reading

Pope tells Dads to spend time with their children

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

General Audience: Pope Focuses On Role Of Father In Family Life

pope7115

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: Obeying God’s Will is the Path to Holiness

Rome, January 27, 2015 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves Obedience to the will of God is the path of holiness. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Today’s first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews explained that the sacrifices of old were not enough “for it is impossible that…Continue Reading

Complementarity As Hendiadys

By DONALD DeMARCO Hendiadys is a figure of speech in which two words are used to intensify the meaning of one thing. It is an ingenious form of cognitive amplification. As a Greek word, hendiadys means “one through two” (hen-dia-dys). Short and sweet are two words that, when in tandem, give added strength and clarity…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . Pontmain Apparition, France, January 1871

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Franco-Prussian War, which began in 1870, was the backdrop to this silent apparition of Our Lady at Pontmain in northwestern France. By January 1871, the country was in a very serious position militarily, with the Prussians controlling two-thirds of the country and Paris besieged. It seemed to be only a…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Should Catholic Hospitals Use The Morning-After Pill For Rape Victims?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a compact disc with more than 320 patient information pamphlets for all of the different types of abortifacients, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Even with all of the different contraceptives and abortifacients…Continue Reading

Obama’s Tax On Stay-At-Home Moms

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY President Obama’s disrespect for motherhood has manifested itself in policies ranging from support for same-sex marriage to defense of a form of abortion that involves forcing a baby into a drug-induced premature delivery and then leaving that little one to die. When it comes to the most vulnerable and innocent human…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s Heroic Witness In Perilous Times

By STEPHANIE BLOCK My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, Image Books (2014); $28.00; 335 pages. My Battle Against Hitler, a posthumously published memoir and collection of essays by “20th century Doctor…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: From time to time, readers want to know how to respond to the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”). This is the notion that the Bible alone is the only authority on matters of faith and practice; if it’s not in the Bible, the theory goes, it isn’t true. This theory rejects Catholic belief in an infallible…Continue Reading

The Path To Joy And Fulfillment

By Fr. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7 1 Cor. 9:16-19; 22-23 Mark 1:29-39 When I looked at the first reading today, I was tempted to check the source and make sure that this was really from 3,500 years ago and not from last week. We hear Job whining and complaining about his…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address At Meeting Of Families In Manila… Set Out On The Path The Lord Sets For Each Of You

MANILA (ZENIT) — Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s January 16 address at a Meeting With Families at the “Mall of Asia Arena” in Manila. In his text, Pope Francis praised the courage of Pope Paul VI in writing Humanae Vitae. ZENIT News Agency provided the text; all rights reserved. + + + The angel of the Lord…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World.. Papal Bloopers And Catholic Teaching

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis continues to grab headlines, not only by setting a new record for drawing the largest crowd in history, but also by his question and answer sessions on the planes to and from his pastoral visits. On the plane to the Philippines, the Pope responded to questions about free speech and violent responses to…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mutien Marie Wiaux

By CAROLE BRESLIN A few decades ago, when Catholic schools taught religion from the Baltimore Catechism, one of the first questions children learned was, “Why did God make you?” The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” The Catechism…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading