Feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessor, Protector and Patron of the Teresian Reform of the Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
In the Church, each one of us has his mission to fulfill. Whatever this mission is, it is given us for the good of souls and the glory of God. This mission requires intensive work – often fatiguing work – and much sacrifice for such is the cost that true love or Christian charity requires. Our mission is but our privilege to participate in the grandest work of divine love manifested by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
St. Joseph’s vocation was to become the guardian of the Holy Family. However, his vocation – and ours as well – was also an invitation to divine intimacy for without this habitual union of our minds and hearts with the Divine Mind and Heart, we would just direct the bark of our vocation to shipwreck and with it, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori (also regarded as the Doctor of Christian vocation), our eternal salvation. While St. Joseph was devoting himself to the work required by his position as foster father, he fulfilled his mission not only with complete exterior dedication but also with a heart filled with Jesus.
A heart filled with Jesus. That is, to Our Lord did St. Joseph consecrate all his solicitude, his energy, his resources, his time. Our dear Father, Protector and Patron reserved nothing for himself, but completely oblivious of any personal needs, desires, or views, devoted himself entirely to the interests and the needs of Jesus. Nothing existed for Joseph except Jesus and Mary, and he felt that his life on earth had no other raison d’etre than his care for them. Like St. Joseph, we must give ourselves generously and totally, without sparing, without reserve, but, at the same time, we must also give ourselves to the works of God with a heart filled with God, with a heart which lives with Him in an intimate union nourished by the assiduous exercise of prayer.
A life of intimate union with the Mind and Heart of God nourished by the assiduous exercise of prayer – a life of continual prayer for prayer seeks that in everything, every moment of our life, we see, understand, pursue, and most perfectly accomplish only God’s loving and saving designs. To live then a life of continual prayer is to live in the presence of God or the practice of the presence of God. As recommended by our holy mother St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila) to souls aspiring to divine intimacy, this practice of the presence of God aims at keeping the Beloved always present in our mind and heart, even when we are engaged in our daily tasks. “We must retire within ourselves even during our ordinary occupations,” says La Madre. “If I can recall the companionship I have within me for so much as a moment, that is of great utility” (Way of Perfection, 29).
One might object that his method is more suitable for those who live in silence and solitude than for those who are in constant contact with others; yet, St. Teresa applies it, simply and practically, to the latter: “If one is speaking, he must try to remember that there is One with him to Whom he can speak; if he is listening, let him remember that he can listen to One Who is nearer to him than anyone else. Finally, let him realize that, if he likes, he need never withdraw from this good companionship, and let him grieve when he has left his Father alone for so long, though his need of Him is so sore” (ibid., 29).
Anyone who works, either mentally or manually, can adopt this method in all his relation. Nothing can hinder him from using it even inversely, that is, by applying it to the presence of God also of God in the souls of others. If, unfortunately, God is not present at all times in all men by grace, He is present in essence, as the creator and conserver of their being. Thus, a teacher can always consider God present also in his pupils; a doctor or a nurse, in their patients; a merchant, in their customers and so on. This thought will inspire in us sentiments of kindness, charity, and respect for all those with whom we come in contact; it will lead us to be interested in them and to serve them, neither for an advantage which we may reap by so doing, nor solely from a sentiment of duty, but as homage to God Whom we recognize as present also in them. It means, in short, to seek, serve, and love God present also in our brethren. Thus, we must look up to St. Joseph for our true model of an interior soul who desires to live totally for God and with God, in the accomplishment of the mission he received from Him.
St. Joseph’s whole life may be summed up as a continual adherence to the divine plan by a life of continual prayer – his was an entire consecration to the mission entrusted to him by God – but even more so in situations which were very obscure and mysterious: the perplexity aroused in his mind by Mary’s mysterious maternity, the extreme poverty and anxieties connected with Bethlehem, the threat of death on the life of the Divine Infant, and the privations during the flight into Egypt. In our life, too, there is always some mystery, either because God is pleased to work in a hidden, secret manner or because His action is always incomprehensible to our poor human intelligence. Therefore, we need also that glace of faith of St. Joseph, that completely docile and blind confidence of a child which, relying on the infinite goodness of God, convinces us that He always and in all circumstances will our good and disposes everything to that end especially for those who love Him (cf., Rom. 8.28). Only this loving trust will permit us, like St. Joseph, always to say our “yes” to every manifestation of the divine pleasures, a humble, prompt, and trustful “yes,” in spite of the obscurities, the difficulties, the mystery. Let us obey with the simplicity of St. Joseph, understanding that God can employ any person or circumstance to make us know and execute His divine plan for God always governs and directs all things toward the fulfillment of His will.
A blessed feast to all!
See also: “Ite ad Ioseph!/Go to Joseph!“