Saturday 30th May 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary… St. Joseph And The Holy Family

February 5, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

The previous article looked the role of St. Joseph during the birth of Jesus, and now we will look at further events in his life and how devotion to him gradually arose in the Church.
Joseph had an important role to play following the visit of the Wise Men, and the hurried departure of the Holy Family to avoid the wrath of King Herod. Once again, an angel appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to flee to Egypt with Mary and the Child, because Herod wanted to kill him.
Joseph arose that same night in obedience to this command and the Holy Family departed for Egypt, where they stayed until Herod was dead.
Joseph was told about this event through another dream in which God’s angel told him to take Jesus and Mary back to his own country. But on their return, following another dream, they went to live in Nazareth in Galilee (Matt. 2).
We hear nothing about the everyday life of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and must assume that St. Joseph’s life henceforth was entirely focused on providing for Mary and Jesus, living a simple life with them, and supporting them by means of his work as a carpenter while remaining faithful to the religious practices of his ancestors.
The last time Joseph is mentioned in the Bible, though not by name, occurs during the narration of the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple when he was twelve, after He had been lost for three days. But once again the focus of this account is on Mary, although she does refer to St. Joseph touchingly as Jesus’ father (Luke 2:41-52).
We are not told anything about Joseph’s death, but presumably this happened before the beginning of the public life of Christ, since further on in the Gospels we hear of Jesus’ mother and brothers (Matt. 12:46), but never of Joseph, although Jesus was known as the son of Joseph (John 1:45). And it is certain that if Joseph had still been alive at the time of the crucifixion, then Jesus would have entrusted Mary to him while on the cross, rather than to St. John. We do not know where he was buried and no cultus has been attached to any bodily relics of his.
Given the fact that St. Joseph surely died in the arms of Jesus and Mary, and surrounded by their love, he has come to be recognized as the patron of a happy death.
If we now turn to devotion to St. Joseph, then we can start by saying that it is ultimately based on the scriptural affirmation that he was a “just man” (Matt. 1:19). This is high praise in itself, but on reflection, it must be the case that Joseph’s holiness was of a truly astonishing nature. That is, he must have been second only to our Lady in terms of sanctity, and yet devotion to him developed only quite slowly in the Church.
If we consider that he was given the immense privilege of protecting Mary and the Baby Jesus — the Incarnate God-man — from Herod’s rage after the visit of the Magi, then we can see that this privilege — which was not without grave concerns and great responsibilities — was an incalculable one. And then further consider his role in providing for them as the Child grew to maturity.
St. Joseph was also the human model of fatherhood which Jesus grew up with, the person on whom he would pattern his own life, in a human sense, and who would provide him with his first ideas of human fatherhood, and thus of the Fatherhood of God. He must also have been the perfect husband to Mary, totally attentive to her, and completely devoted to her welfare.
To be chosen to be the foster-father of the God-man, and the spouse of the Virginal Mother of God, are signs of an incredibly exalted vocation, and we can get a glimpse of this if we consider his position in relation to the Holy Trinity. Our Lady’s relationship to the Trinity, as Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is absolutely unique. No other creature comes even remotely close to her in terms of sanctity, and it is this status which has traditionally seen her as being more exalted than all the angels and saints put together.
With St. Joseph, we are obviously on a much lower plane, but even so, the extraordinary responsibilities he was given clearly put him in a separate and very eminent category with regard to the rest of humanity.
In the light of such reflections, it is clear that St. Joseph’s sanctity was of an astounding nature, and that the devotion to him which has developed in the Church in recent centuries is in no way exaggerated.

A Universal Feast Day

Despite all this, it is understandable why the cult of St. Joseph was relatively slow to develop in the early Church, and indeed for a long time after that. The early centuries were times of fierce persecution, and it was usually only the martyrs who were venerated. In addition, the theological focus during that period was on clarifying the trinitarian nature of God, and on trying to understand the mystery of how Jesus could be both God and Man. And there was a focus, too, on the role of our Lady as the Theotokos, or God-bearer.
Even so, St. Joseph was mentioned by some of the Church Fathers, and from what they said it seems clear that there was some devotion to him present in the Eastern Church.
In the West, though, it developed quite late, and it was only in the 13th century that a church was first dedicated to him, at Bologna. But it was mainly through the influence of figures such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Gertrude, and St. Bridget of Sweden, along with the work of some religious orders, such as the Carmelites and the Dominicans, that devotion to him began to develop more widely.
By the early 15th century a feast day in honor of St. Joseph was celebrated in various dioceses in Western Europe, and his cult was strongly promoted by influential figures such as St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Bernardine of Siena, while Pope Sixtus IV (reigned 1471-1484) approved a universal feast day for him in the Roman calendar, on March 19.
As the cult of St. Joseph grew, succeeding Popes elevated the status of his feast progressively, and other feasts associated with him, such as his espousals to our Lady, were also introduced. Under the influence of St. Teresa of Avila, the reformed Carmelite Order chose him as their patron in 1621.
The next article will look at the growth of more recent devotion to St. Joseph in the Church, and how it has particularly had the support of the Popes from the time of Pius IX in the 19th century.

+    +    +

(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:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Ireland is worse than the pagans for legalising gay marriage, says senior cardinal

Ireland has gone further than paganism and “defied God” by legalising gay marriage, one of the Church’s most senior cardinals has said. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was recently moved from a senior role in the Vatican to be patron of…Continue Reading

UN Official Reports on Islamic State’s “War on Women”

A United Nations official has painted a chilling picture of how the Islamic State group oversees a vast network of sexual slavery, including an elaborate pricing system, violent treatment by slave masters and casual branding of female bodies and reselling…Continue Reading

Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions

ROME — A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the…Continue Reading

Ireland has voted to legalize gay marriage, both sides say

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish voters have resoundingly backed amending the constitution to legalize gay marriage, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday after the world’s first national vote on the issue. As the official ballot counting continued,…Continue Reading

Vatican’s eco guru champions Occupy Wall Street thugs

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Jeffrey Sachs wears many hats. He is known as the architect of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and the proponent of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His new book, entitled, (what else) The…Continue Reading

Boy Scouts president: We need to allow open homosexual leaders

May 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates says the youth organization must change with the times and allow open homosexual men to serve as Scout leaders. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA…Continue Reading

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay…Continue Reading

The Reception of Holy Communion in the United States

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis has decided to mark the occasion with the “Year of Mercy.” Despite much happy-talk and positive papal press, it is a time of foreboding in…Continue Reading

‘Eleven Christians Killed Every Hour,’ Says Irish Bishop

According to Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, statistics show that the situation of Christian persecution in the world is far more dire than most people understand. The…Continue Reading

Africa’s experience of family life must be heard at synod, Pope tells Togo’s bishops

Pope Francis received Togo’s bishops in audience on May 11 as part of their quinquennial ad limina visit to Rome. The West African nation of 6.8 million is 20% Muslim, 15% Protestant, and 14% Catholic, with approximately half of the…Continue Reading

The eco-encyclical won’t commit the Church to unsettled science

By the time the environment encyclical of Pope Francis is released, it will be anti-climactic. Not anti-climate change to be sure, as the Holy See is certainly enthusiastic about the issue. Actually, it is against climate change, but enthusiastic about…Continue Reading

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”

The Pew Research Center just released its latest study on “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” The subtitle tells the story: “Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.” For our purposes, I want to focus…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 Francis: Civilization’s Progress Is Measured by Its Ability to Protect Life

“The degree of progress of a civilization is measured by its ability to protect life, especially in its most fragile stages.” These were the words of Pope Francis during an audience with the Science and Life Association, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary. The Holy Father began by thanking them for their service in promoting the protection of human life in a society marked by the negative logic of discarding.” “The love of Christ urges…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Evangelize with a language of merciful love

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization at the end of their Plenary session. During the course of their Plenary session the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization has been discussing the relationship between evangelization and catechesis and it was on that theme that Pope Francis addressed members of the Council, including its President Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Speaking to them…Continue Reading

Pope: coherent Christians draw people to Christ

pope788

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ homily this morning focused on the Gospel account of Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus to be healed, and whom the disciples called to be silent. The Gospel led the Holy Father to reflect on three different groups of Christians. First, there are Christians who are concerned only with their own relationship with Jesus, a “closed, selfish” relationship, who do not hear the cries of others: “This group…Continue Reading

Pope speaks with open heart to Argentinean newspaper

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good. In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and…Continue Reading

When Did America Peak?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + Is America on its way up? Or down? Within the USS Yorktown, which serves as a floating museum at Patriot Point in South Carolina, there is a replica of the…Continue Reading

Saving The Fourth

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The Patriot Act has a bad pedigree and an evil history. In the fearful days immediately following 9/11, the Department of Justice quickly sent draft legislation to Congress that, if enacted, would have permitted federal agents to violate their oaths to uphold the Constitution by writing their own search warrants. The…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How Many People Are Homosexuals?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + “Homosexuality is one in 10. It’s one in 10 on the football team. It’s one in 10 on the baseball team. It’s one in 10 on the softball team. It’s one in…Continue Reading

It Is A Christian Country: At Least It Used To Be

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I realize that there are intelligent commentators on the right who are convinced that homosexual activists are pushing for the day when Christian churches will be compelled by law to perform same-sex marriages. I may be wrong, but I do not think that we will see that dictate anytime soon. It…Continue Reading

Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth

By DONALD DeMARCO Commutative justice demands that we repay what we owe. If I owe my brother $10, I should pay him $10. Justice in this sense is a proportion between the debt and the repayment. It is morally and often legally binding. There is a similar proportion on a higher level though it does…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Church — Body of Christ (Part 2)

By DON FIER As we began to unpack the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the Church as the “Body of Christ” last week, we saw that the image of the human body to describe the Church is derived principally from the Pauline epistles. In an exhortation to the Corinthians, the apostle to the Gentiles was…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I like to attend daily Mass, but the town where I live only offers two — at 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. at two different churches. Now that I am getting older and have trouble sleeping, these early Masses are very difficult to attend regularly. I wonder if every parish priest would consider offering at least one Mass per week in the…Continue Reading

The Blood Of Christ Cleanses Our Consciences

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR B) Readings: Exodus 24:3-8 Heb. 9:11-15 Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 In the first reading today we hear about the covenant that was entered into between God and the people of Israel. Moses was the representative of both God and the people in this case. Consequently, he speaks to the people on behalf…Continue Reading

Archbishop Martin In Lourdes . . . In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying To Hurt Or Offend

LOURDES (ZENIT) — Here is a homily given May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, by Archbishop Eamon Martin at Mass in Lourdes on his first pilgrimage to the Marian shrine as archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. + + + At Mass in Lourdes, Archbishop Martin remembered and acknowledged the faithful in Ireland, and around the world, who…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Social Networks, Addiction To Images, And Custody Of The Eyes

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A follower on my Facebook page recently messaged me about a sordid situation arising from an association based on a Facebook “friendship.” She “friended” a man who then used her account to gain access to her daughter. What started out as a hope to meet someone who may become a real friend ended in inappropriate…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . St. Ephrem

By CAROLE BRESLIN For centuries — no, for millennia — the Mideast has been the center of tragedy and unrest. Particularly significant in this historical conflict sits the city of Nisibis, now named Nusaybin. Nusaybin is an ancient city which sits on the border between Syria and Turkey. In ancient times this fertile land, located between the Tigris and Euphrates…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth in the past century. In 1900, shortly after the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and companions, there were two million Catholics in Africa. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Africa in 2009, the Catholic population was 158 million. Once again the Church has witnessed that the blood of martyrs is…Continue Reading