Skip to comments.St. Joseph - Foster Father of Jesus
Posted on 12/12/2006 1:16:04 PM PST by stfassisi
St. Joseph - Foster Father of Jesus by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
It is remarkable, how little the Holy Spirit says about famous people in the Bible. The classic example of this is Saint Joseph. He is the most prominent saint in the Catholic liturgy after the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet there is not a single word in the Scriptures quoting Saint Joseph.
Our plan here is to identify just five qualities of Saint Joseph. Each quality will be briefly described and then applied to ourselves. Of the twenty five invocations in the Litany of Saint Joseph, the ones on which we shall concentrate really cover all we know about the spouse of the Mother of God. Each invocation deserves a volume of commentary.
The Humility of Saint Joseph Humility, as we know, is the truth. It is the virtue that enables us to recognize and act on the recognition of our true relationship to God first, and to other persons.
By this standard, Saint Joseph was a very humble man.
He recognized his place with respect to Mary and Jesus. He knew that he was inferior to both of them in the order of grace. Yet he accepted his role as spouse of Mary and guardian of the Son of God.
The lesson for us is that genuine humility prevents us from claiming to be better or more than we really are. At the same time, we are not to underestimate ourselves either. A humble person does not consider himself more than he is but also not less than he is.
If we are truly humble, we do not pretend to be more than we really are, which is pride. But we also do not deny what we are, or claim to be less, which is false humility.
Humility is the moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes ones total dependence on God. Moral humility recognizes ones creaturely equality with other human beings. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride. It is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize Gods gifts and use them according to the will of God.
The Chastity of Saint Joseph The Churchs constant tradition holds that Saint Joseph lived a life of consecrated chastity. Some of the apocryphal gospels picture him as an old man, even a widower. This is not the Churchs teaching.
We are rather to believe that he was a virgin, who entered into a virginal marriage with Mary. This was to protect Marys reputation and safeguard the dignity of her Son.
What is the lesson for us? That chastity has an apostolic purpose. It is meant to help us win souls. It also shows how highly God regards the virtue of chastity, seeing that He providentially arranged a series of miracles of chastity:
The virginal conception of the Savior.
The virginal birth of the Son of God.
The marriage of Mary and Joseph.
The life of Jesus Christ. Chastity is the virtue that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of faith. For married people, chastity moderates the desire in conformity with their life. For the unmarried people who wish to marry, the desire is moderated by abstention until (or unless) they get married. For those who resolve not to marry, the desire is totally sacrificed.
Chastity and purity, modesty and decency are comparable in that they have the basic meaning of freedom from whatever is lewd or salacious.
Yet they also differ. Chastity implies an opposition to the immoral in the sense of lustful or licentious. It implies refraining from all acts or thoughts that are not in accordance with the Churchs teaching about the use of ones reproductive powers. It particularly emphasizes an avoidance of anything that might defile or make the soul unclean because the body has not been controlled in the exercise of its most imperious passion.
The Obedience of Saint Joseph Josephs obedience covers every aspect of his life.
He was obedient in entering into a marriage with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He was obedient in his willingness to put her away when, though he knew she was innocent, he found her with child.
He was obedient when he went to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, and accepted the humiliation of having Jesus born in a stable cave.
He was obedient in taking the Child and His Mother by night and fleeing to Egypt.
He was obedient in taking the Christ Child to Jerusalem, as prescribed by the Law, and accepted Gods mysterious will when the Child was lost, and Gods even more mysterious will when Jesus told Mary that he must be about His Fathers affairseven to grievously paining Joseph, His foster father, in order to do the will of His Father.
What are the lessons for us? Obedience is the test of our love of God. His laws are Gods way of enabling us to prove our love for Him; there is no obedience where there is no love, there is much obedience where there is much love.
Joseph was head of the Holy Family. He did not have identifiable superiors whom he should obey. Josephs obedience consequently was mainly interior.
This is illustrated by the fact that each time Joseph was to obey, he was divinely inspired. Thus it was by a special communication from God that Joseph was told to marry the Blessed Virgin. Thus it was also by interior communication that he was told to marry the Blessed Virgin after he found that she was pregnant. It was also by divine communication that Joseph was told to flee with Mary to Egypt. It was also by divine communication that he was told to return from Egypt to Palestine. It was finally by divine communication that Joseph was instructed to live with Jesus and Mary in Palestine. We may also say that Joseph was divinely instructed to remain in Palestine after the Holy Family returned to Nazareth.
There is not a single recorded word of Saint Joseph which he spoke during his years of caring for Jesus and Mary.
We may say that Josephs obedience was profoundly interior. He obeyed Gods will by supernatural instinct. Needless to say, he did not have to be ordered by God to exercise authority over Jesus and Mary. We may say that Joseph obeyed not because he was told to but because his mind was always conformed to the mind of God. We may further say that Josephs faith always saw in Jesus the living God who instructed His foster father constantly in everything that the Lord wanted him to do.
The Prudence of Saint Joseph The prudence of Saint Joseph is part of our Catholic faith. It is especially shown in his remarkable practice of silence. Of course, Joseph talked. Yet the Gospels do not record a single word he spoke, no doubt to teach us that if we wish to practice the virtue of prudence, we must look to our practice of silence.
We are to be silent when others want us to speak, and we practice charity by our self-control.
We are to be silent when it is clearly necessary to do something and not talk about it. For some people talk and more talk is an excuse for doing Gods will, but speech is no substitute for actions.
No one has practiced prudence better than Jesus and Mary. But Saint Joseph teaches us that prudence is correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that should be avoided.
Prudence is the intellectual virtue by which a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil. In this sense, prudence is a moral virtue that enables a person to devise, choose, and prepare suitable means for the avoidance of any evil. Prudence resides in the practical intellect and is both acquired by ones own acts and infused along with sanctifying grace. Prudence may be said to be natural as developed by our own efforts, and supernatural because it is conferred by God.
As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental cooperation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct the rest of ones activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made.
The Love that Joseph Had for Jesus and Mary Saint Joseph deserves our admiration for his other virtues, but he is to be especially imitated in his love for Jesus and Mary.
He was placed into their lives by an all-wise Providence and lived up to Gods expectations by giving them his deepest attention and care.
What most bears emphasis is not so much that Jesus and Mary were physically so close to Saint Joseph. He was in their company day after day for many years.
It was rather that Joseph put his love into practice.
Joseph put his love to work. He did not merely tell Jesus and Mary that he loved them. He acted out his love. He lived it.
That is the secret of true love. We are as truly devoted to Christ and His Mother as we do what we know they want us to do. And what is that? It is to see Gods providence in everything that enters our lives:
the disappointments and failures
the unexpected turn of events
the frustrating delays
the unwanted demands on our time
the strange behavior of some people
the mysterious silence of God who often hides the purpose He has and yet tells us, through peoplethat is the key, through peoplewhat He wants us to do. Saint Joseph is surely worth studying and invoking to help us love Jesus and Mary as he loved them. So we should pray:
Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus and protector of the Virgin Mary, teach us the hardest lesson we have to learn in life; to love as you loved, by putting our affections to use, and by acting on the sentiments we so often express in our prayers. Teach us to understand what Mary meant when she said, "Be it done to me according to your will." And what Jesus meant when He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
Beautifully Spoken words by the late Father Hardon-words to live by.
He did name one of his sons after himself...Joses. His legacy lived on.
In my understanding, the Orthodox Church teaches that Joseph was an elderly widower with several children, including the Apostle James.
First five posts and the Catholic bashing of Catholic beliefs has already begun.
Dear friend,thank you for all the great links.
That is my understanding as well.
Thanks for the ping. I must admit I really don't know very much about St. Joseph. He is certainly revered, but he is never mentioned in the Divine Liturgy. I will defer this one.
What more would you like explained?
Here's a link to a synopsis of Orthodox thinking and hymnology about +Joseph. Its a good place to start.
Very nice, Kolo. I think our Catholic friends will find a lot of their own in it.
|Reading||From a sermon by Saint Bernardine of Siena, priest|
|The faithful foster-father and guardian|
|There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favour chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfil the task at hand.
This general rule is especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Josephs wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: Good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord.
What then is Josephs position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and, yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honourably introduced into the world. Holy Church in its entirety is indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her it was judged worthy to receive Christ. But after her we undoubtedly owe special gratitude and reverence to Saint Joseph.
In him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfilment. What the divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms.
Obviously, Christ does not now deny to Joseph that intimacy, reverence and very high honour which he gave him on earth, as a son to his father. Rather we must say that in heaven Christ completes and perfects all that he gave at Nazareth.
Now we can see how the last summoning words of the Lord appropriately apply to Saint Joseph: Enter into the joy of your Lord. In fact, although the joy of eternal happiness enters into the soul of a man, the Lord preferred to say to Joseph: Enter into joy. His intention was that the words should have a hidden spiritual meaning for us. They convey not only that this holy man possesses an inward joy, but also that it surrounds him and engulfs him like an infinite abyss.
Remember us, Saint Joseph, and plead for us to your foster-child. Ask your most holy bride, the Virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen.
Dear Friend ,
Thank you for the ping to the sermon.
I wish you a Blessed day!
She would drop a large gob from a spoon into hot oil and deep fry them. When done, it would be a hollow ball of fried dough and she would sprinkle powdered sugar over them.
If any Freepers have the recipe, please post it or Freepmail me.
My lovely gramma died without giving us the recipe.
Sfinci for St. Joseph (San Giuseppe)
500 g flour
200 g sugar
fresh yeast 1 tbsp
250 g milk
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla powder
Together with neapolitan Zeppole, these are the cakes served for the feast of Saint Joseph on the 19th March. They used to be cooked in the street and sold by vendors or given as gifts.
Place the flour the 3 whole eggs, 3 yolks, in a bowl. Warm the milk and melt the fresh yeast inside. Add little by litle to the bowl working the mixture with your fingers until you obtain a smooth soft paste. Let it rise in a warm draftless place until it forms small bubbles. cut off small pieces and deep fry in hot oil. As oon as they turn brown remove them and drain off the excess oil.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Sfinci can be eaten plain or stuffed with pastry cream.
Lots of recipes for "St. Joseph Cream Puffs on this thread. (five or six)
BTTT for Father’s Day!
The lineage of Joseph is given in the Gospels. Joseph's lineage was as important to establishing the credentials of Christ as the "Son of David" as Mary's.
If, in fact, Joseph were nothing more than a "foster" father, then Jesus would have legally been an illegitimate child.
Just as Mary was chosen for her calling as Jesus' mother, so Joseph was chosen for his calling as Jesus' father.
Nobody is saying that the marriage was not legal
Why do you take everything so literally?
Do you still believe the mustard seed is the smallest seed on earth? -;)
I'm saying exactly what I said. Joseph was NOT a FOSTER FATHER!
He was in every sense of the word Christ's earthly father. Joseph's role in bringing up Christ was just as important as Mary's role as his mother.
**Joseph’s role in bringing up Christ was just as important as Mary’s role as his mother.**
So you are saying that St. Joseph’s role was important, since God was the Father of the Son, Jesus?
I don’t think that you are denying Luke in quoting that Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, are you?
He wasn't. He was the legal son of Joseph.
Could you be meaning Joseph was the “adoptive” father rather than “foster” father?
We was not an "adoptive" father.
Joseph was the LEGAL father.
If Joseph was not the legal father, then Jesus would have been an illegitimate child.
I don't know where these authors dream up this nonsense about "foster father".
Was Mary married to Joseph or not?
Well, when Mary winds up being pregnant before Joseph was ever married or had sex with her, it means she was “with child” for at least a month before Joseph decided to go through with the marriage.
If I marry someone whose unborn child is another’s, I need to adopt that child. I am legally that child’s father in all ways, and the child is “legitimate”.
You are absolutely wrong. The common law (I believe this is even back to biblical times) rule is that any child born during a marriage where the husband and wife are living together is conclusively presumed to be the child of the husband. No evidence can be admitted into court to disprove that fact. The husband is the father. Period.
Well, if the “new” father and the mother keep it silent that the married father was not the physical father, then the child is born being considered Joseph’s regardless.
I will have to look into more of what is done with this. Once born, I do know adoption must take place if the child was not from the two in question.
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