04 May 2010

The Nobility of St. Joseph

+The other day we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  A sermon I heard that morning inspired by the mystical writings of St. Bernardine of Sienna, made me think a little deeper on St. Joseph's role in the Holy Family. 

St. Joseph is often underestimated by Catholics for his saintliness and efficacy of his intercessions.  It is important to point this out because any Catholic who doesn't already have a devotion to St. Joseph lacks in some basic understanding and/or appreciation for the Holy Family, and therefore of the love of God represented here.

St. Joseph was more than merely a carpenter, for he was a man from a most noble background.  The Holy Ghost emphasizes this because here this is something for us to admire and from which to learn a bit about natural moral law.  There is, indeed, a hierarchy in nature, even human nature.  Although, this doesn't say whether or not a person has a propensity to enter heaven, it does demonstrate God's desire for man to see His Authority here on earth in a form of hierarchy, even if the man is a carpenter, who happens to come from a noble lineage. St. Bernadine points out, "Whenever divine grace selects someone to receive a particular grace, or some especially favoured position, all the gifts for his state are given to that person, and. enrich him abundantly." -- St. Bernardine, Sermon 2

The Blessed Mother, who was "full of grace", depended upon St. Joseph for his strength.  How can this be, when no other creature ever created or to be created would be more united to the Holy Trinity and have as great a fullness of grace?   The Holy Ghost hints to this by emphasizing the lineage of St. Joseph.  St. Joseph, also was full of grace but not in the sense of how the Blessed Mother had fullness.  The Blessed Mother was indeed "full of grace", but her nature was already fully united to God, so that everything she did was most significantly an action of her spiritual spouse, the Holy Ghost.  St. Joseph, being a man of highest virtue, was enobled by God with the graces required of his lineage, and of his state (as foster-father of Jesus).   He demonstrated a strength of will because of this enoblement, and this is how the Blessed Mother was able to depend upon the strength and wisdom of St. Joseph, the earthly authority of God, the 2nd Person and the Most Holy Trinity, as well as her authority as her earthly husband.  Whatever direction St. Joseph gave, she had no need to question that it was from anywhere else but Divine judgement, and even according to His Perfect Will.

Almighty God, at the beginnings of our salvation, when Mary conceived your Son and brought him forth into the world, you placed them under Joseph's watchful care. May his prayer still help your Church to be an equally faithful guardian of your mysteries, and a sign of Christ to mankind.

(We make our prayer) through our Lord.

(Through Christ our Lord.)

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