|Devotion to Our Lady||
The “Mystical City of God” by Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda (1602-1665) is a monumental four-volume history of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as revealed by Our Lady to a 17th-century Spanish nun. The work has been acclaimed by Popes, cardinals and theologians and has inspired readers for over 300 years. Included in this work is the following account of the holy death of St. Joseph, given to this holy nun by Our Lady herself. The account is very inspiring and shows why the Church has acclaimed St. Joseph as the patron of a happy death. The English translation of this work has the imprimatur of the former Archbishop of Santa Fe.
The Masterpiece Joseph
There was a certain difference in the graces given to St. Joseph and those granted to other saints; for many saints were endowed with graces and gifts that are intended, not for the increase of their own sanctity, but for the advance of the service of the Most High in other souls; they were, so to say, gifts and graces freely given, and not dependent upon the holiness of the receiver. But in St. Joseph, all the divine favors were productive of personal virtue and perfection; for the mysterious purpose, toward which they tended and helped along, was closely connected with the holiness of his own life. The more angelic and holy he grew to be, so much the more worthy was he to be the spouse of most holy Mary, the depository and treasure-house of heavenly sacraments. He was to be a miracle of holiness, as he really was.
Holy From the Start
This marvelous holiness commenced with the formation of his body in the womb of his mother. In this the providence of God himself interfered, regulating the composition of the four different temperaments of his body with extreme balance of proportion and securing for him that evenly tempered disposition, which made his body a blessed earth fit for the abode of an exquisite soul and well-balanced mind. He was sanctified in the womb of his mother seven months after his conception, and the leaven of sin was destroyed in him for the whole course of his life, never having felt any impure or disorderly movement. Although he did not receive the use of his reason together with this first sanctification, which consisted principally in justification from Original Sin, yet his mother at the time felt a wonderful joy of the Holy Ghost. Without understanding entirely the mystery, she elicited great acts of virtue and believed that her son, or whomever she bore in her womb, would be wonderful in the sight of God and men.
Giant Strides by a Little Child
The holy child Joseph was born most beautiful and perfect of body and caused in his parents and in his relations an extraordinary delight, something like that caused by the birth of Saint John the Baptist, though the cause of it was more hidden. The Lord hastened in him the use of his reason, perfecting it in his third year, endowing it with infused science and augmenting his soul with new graces and virtues. From that time the child began to know God by faith, and also by natural reasoning and science, as the cause and Author of all things. He eagerly listened and understood profoundly all that was taught him in regard to God and his works. At this premature age he already practiced the highest kinds of prayer and contemplation and eagerly engaged in the exercise of the virtues proper to his youth; so that, at the time when others come to the use of reason, at the age of seven years or more, St. Joseph was already a perfect man in the use of it and in holiness. He was of a kind disposition, loving, affable, growing in virtue and perfection and advancing toward his espousal with most holy Mary by an altogether irreproachable life.
The intercession of St. Joseph is most powerful: first, for attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to most holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly, for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in families. These and many other favors God confers upon those who properly and with good disposition seek the intercession of the spouse of our Queen, St. Joseph. I beseech all the faithful children of the Church to be very devout to him and they will experience these favors in reality, if they dispose themselves as they should in order to receive and merit them.
Words of Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda
My daughter, although thou hast described my spouse, St. Joseph, as the most noble among the princes and saints of the heavenly Jerusalem: yet neither canst thou properly manifest his eminent sanctity, nor can any of the mortals know it fully before they arrive at the vision of the Divinity. Then all of them will be filled with wonder and praise as the Lord will make them capable of understanding this sacrament. On the last day, when all men shall be judged, the damned will bitterly bewail their sins, which prevented them from appreciating this powerful means of their salvation, and availing themselves, as they easily could have, of this intercessor to gain the friendship of the just Judge. The whole human race has much undervalued the privileges and prerogatives conceded to my blessed spouse and they know not what his intercession with God is able to do. I assure thee, my dearest, that he is one of the greatly favored personages in the divine presence and has immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance.
I desire that thou be very thankful to the divine condescension for vouchsafing thee so much light and knowledge regarding this mystery, and also for the favor which I am doing thee therein. From now on, during the rest of thy mortal life, see that thou advance in devotion and in hearty love toward my spouse, and that thou bless the Lord for thus having favored him with such high privileges and for having rejoiced me so much in the knowledge of all his excellences. In all thy necessities thou must avail thyself of his intercession. Thou shouldst induce many to venerate him and see that thy own religious distinguish themselves in their devotion to him. That which my spouse asks of the Lord in Heaven is granted upon the earth and on his intercession depend many and extraordinary favors for men, if they do not make themselves unworthy of receiving them. All these privileges were to be a reward for the amiable perfection of this wonderful saint and for his great virtues; for divine clemency is favorably drawn forth by them and looks upon St. Joseph with generous liberality, ready to shower down its marvelous mercies upon all those who avail themselves of his intercession.
A Testing Time
At the age of thirteen and a half years, having grown considerably for her age, Mary had another abstract vision of the Divinity. In this vision, something similar happened to that which the Holy Scriptures relate of Abraham, when God commanded him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, the only pledge of all his hopes. God tempted Abraham, says Moses (Genesis 12:2), trying and probing the promptness of his obedience in order to reward it. We can say the same thing of Our Lady, that God tested her in this vision, by commanding her to enter the state of matrimony. We can understand the truth of the words: “How inscrutable are the judgments of the Lord and how exalted are his ways and thoughts above our own” (Romans 11:33)! As distant as heaven is from earth, were the thoughts of most holy Mary from the plans which the Most High now made known to her, by commanding her to accept a husband for her protection and company; for, as far as depended upon her will, she had desired and resolved, during all her life, not to have a husband and she had often repeated and renewed the vow of chastity, which she had taken at such a premature age.
A Divine Prize
Mary completed the fourteenth year of her life while residing at the Temple in Jerusalem, the men, who at that time in the city of Jerusalem were descendants of the tribe of Juda and of the race of David, gathered together in the temple as eligible spouses for Our Lady, who was also of that lineage. Among the number was Joseph, then living in Jerusalem; for he was one of the descendants of the royal race of David. He was then thirty-three years of age, of handsome person and pleasing countenance, but also of incomparable modesty and gravity; above all he was most chaste in thought and conduct, and most saintly in all his inclinations. From his twelfth year he had made and kept the vow of chastity. He was related to the Virgin Mary in the third degree, and was known for the utmost purity of his life, holy and irreprehensible in the eyes of God and of men.
A Divine Lottery
All these unmarried men, gathered in the Temple and prayed to the Lord, together with the priests, in order to be governed by the Holy Spirit in what they were about to do. The Most High spoke to the heart of the high priest, inspiring him to place into the hands of each one of the young men a dry stick, with the command that each ask His Majesty with a lively faith, to single out the one whom He had chosen as the spouse of Mary. As her virtue and nobility, the fame of her beauty, her possessions and her modesty, and her position as being the firstborn in her family was known to all of them, each one coveted the happiness of meriting her as a spouse. Among them all, only the humble and most upright Joseph thought himself unworthy of such a great blessing; and remembering the vow of chastity which he had made and resolving anew its perpetual observance, he resigned himself to God’s will, leaving it all to His disposal and being filled at the same time with a veneration and esteem greater than that of any of the others for Mary.
And the Winner is…
While they were thus engaged in prayer, the staff, which Joseph held, was seen to blossom and at the same time a dove of purest white and resplendent with admirable light, was seen to descend and rest upon the head of the saint, while in the interior of his heart God spoke: “Joseph, My servant, Mary shall be thy Spouse; accept her with attentive reverence, for she is acceptable in My eyes, just and most pure in soul and body, and thou shalt do all that she shall say to Thee.”
At this manifestation and sign from Heaven, the priests declared St. Joseph as the spouse selected by God Himself for the maiden Mary. Calling her forth for her espousal, the priests espoused her to the most chaste and holy of men, St. Joseph.
Our Lady’s Prayer for Joseph
As soon as she was informed that the Lord wished her to enter the married state with him, Our Lady earnestly besought the Lord to sanctify St. Joseph and inspire him with most chaste thoughts and desires in conformity with her own. The Lord listened to her prayer and permitted her to see what great effects His right hand wrought in the mind and spirit of St. Joseph. He infused into his soul the most perfect habits of all the virtues and gifts. He balanced anew all his faculties and filled him with grace, confirming it in an admirable manner. In the virtue and perfection of chastity the holy spouse was elevated higher than the Seraphim; for the purity, which they possessed without body, St. Joseph possessed in his earthly body and in mortal flesh; never did an image of the impurities of the animal and sensible nature engage, even for one moment, any of his faculties. This freedom from all such imaginations and his angelic simplicity, fitted him for the companionship and presence of the most Pure among all creatures, and without this excellence he would not have been worthy of so great a dignity and rare excellence.
Start of a New Life
The heavenly Princess, with a tearful and sorrowful face, took leave of the priests, asking their blessing, and of her instructress and her companions, begging their pardon. She gave thanks to all of them for the favors received at their hands during her stay in the temple. The humility of her behavior enhanced the prudence and aptness of her words for the performance of these last duties in the temple; for on all occasions she spoke in few and weighty words. She took leave of the temple not without great grief on account of the sacrifice of her inclinations and desires.
In the company of attendants, who were some of the more distinguished laymen in the service of the temple, she betook herself with her spouse, Joseph, to Nazareth. Joseph, although he had been born in that place, had, by the providential disposition of circumstances, decided to live for some time in Jerusalem. Thus it happened that he so improved his fortune as to become the spouse of her, whom God had chosen to be His own Mother.
Home Sweet Home
Having arrived at their home in Nazareth, where the Princess of Heaven had inherited the possessions and estates of her blessed parents, they were welcomed and visited by their friends and relatives with the joyful congratulations customary on such occasions. After they had, in a most holy manner, complied with the natural duties of friendship and politeness, and satisfied the worldly obligations connected with the conversation and dealings of their fellowmen, the two most holy spouses, Joseph and Mary, were left at leisure in their house. Custom had introduced the practice among the Hebrews, that, for the first few days of their married state, the husband and wife should enter upon a sort of study or trial of each others’ habits and temperament, in order that afterwards they might be able to make reciprocal allowance in their conduct one toward the other.
During this time St. Joseph said to his spouse Mary: “I give thanks to the Lord most high God for the favor of having designed me as your husband without my merits, though I judged myself unworthy even of thy company; but His Majesty, Who can raise up the lowly whenever He wishes, showed this mercy to me, and I desire and hope, relying on thy discretion and virtue, that thou help me to make a proper return in serving Him with an upright heart. Hold me, therefore, as thy servant, and by the true love which I have for thee, I beg of thee to supply my deficiencies in the fulfillment of the domestic duties and of other things, which, as a worthy husband, I should know how to perform; tell me, my Lady, what is thy pleasure, in order that I may fulfill it.”
Our Lady listened to these words with an humble heart, and she answered: “My master, I am fortunate, that the Most High, in order to place me in this state of life, has chosen thee for my husband and that He has given me such evident manifestation of His will, that I serve thee; but if thou givest me leave I will speak of my thoughts and intentions, which I wish to manifest to thee for this purpose. My lord and spouse, it is just that we give praise and glory with all reverence to our God and Creator. To us, who are so needy, He has manifested his greatness and mercy in choosing us for His service. I acknowledge myself among all creatures as more blessed and indebted to Him than all others, and more than all of them together; for, meriting less, I have received from His generous hand more than they. At a tender age, I consecrated myself to God by a perpetual vow of chastity in body and soul; his I am and Him I acknowledge as my Spouse and Lord, with fixed resolve to preserve for Him my chastity. I beseech thee, my master, to help me in fulfilling this vow, while in all other things I will be thy servant, willing to work for the comfort of thy life as long as mine shall last. Yield, my spouse, to this resolve and make a like resolve, in order that, offering ourselves as an acceptable sacrifice to our eternal God, He may receive us in the odor of sweetness and bestow on us the eternal goods for which we hope.”
The most chaste Joseph, full of interior joy at the words of his spouse, answered her: “My Mistress, in making known to me thy chaste and welcome sentiments, thou hast penetrated and dilated my heart. I have not opened my thoughts to thee, before knowing thy own. I also acknowledge myself under greater obligation to the Lord of creation than other men; for, very early, He has called me by his true enlightenment to love Him with an upright heart; and I desire Thee to know, Lady that at the age of twelve years I also made a promise to serve the Most High in perpetual chastity. On this account I now gladly ratify this vow, in order not to impede thy own; in the presence of His Majesty I promise to aid thee, as far as in me lies, in serving Him and loving Him according to thy full desires. I will be, with the divine grace, thy most faithful servant and companion, and, I pray thee, accept my chaste love and hold me as thy brother, without ever entertaining any other kind of love, outside the one which thou owest to God and after God to me.”
In this conversation the Most High confirmed anew the virtue of chastity in the heart of St. Joseph, and the pure and holy love due to His most holy spouse Mary. This love, the saint already had in an eminent degree, and the Lady herself augmented it sweetly, dilating his heart by her most prudent discourse.
By divine intervention, the two most holy and chaste spouses felt an incomparable joy and consolation. Our Lady lovingly corresponded to the desires of St. Joseph. The Most High also gave to St. Joseph new-purity and complete command over his natural inclinations, so that without hindrance or any trace of sensual desires, but with admirable and new grace, he might serve his spouse Mary, and, in her, execute his will and pleasure. They immediately set about dividing the property inherited from Joachim and Anne, the parents of the most holy Virgin; one part they offered to the temple, where she had stayed, another they destined for the poor, and the third was left in the hands of the holy spouse St. Joseph, to be disposed of according to his judgment. Our Queen reserved for herself only the privilege of serving him and of attending to the household duties. For from dealings with outsiders and from the management of property, buying or selling, the most prudent Virgin always kept aloof.
Who’s the Boss Around Here?
In his earlier life, St. Joseph had learnt the trade of carpentry, as being a respectable and proper way of earning the sustenance in life. He was poor in earthly possessions. He therefore asked his most holy Spouse, whether it was agreeable to her that he should exercise his trade, in order to be able to serve her and to gain something for distribution among the poor. Our approved of this, saying that the Lord did not wish them to be rich, but poor and lovers of the poor, desirous of helping them in as far as their means would allow. Then arose, between the two spouses, a holy contest, who should obey the other as superior. But she, who among the humble was the most humble, won in this contest of humility; for as the man is the head of the family, she would not permit this natural order to be inverted. She desired, in all things, to obey her spouse St. Joseph, asking him solely for permission to help the poor, which the saint gladly gave.
The Wine Matures
During these days, St. Joseph, by divine enlightenment, learned more and more the qualities of his spouse Mary—her rare prudence, humility, purity and all her other virtues, exceeding, by far, his thoughts and estimates. He was seized with ever new admiration and, in great joy of spirit, continued to praise and thank the Lord, again and again, for having given him a companion and spouse so far above his merits. And, in order that this work of the Most High might be entirely perfect, He ordained that the Princess of Heaven, by her mere presence and manner, should infuse, into the heart of her spouse, a holy fear and reverence greater than words could ever suffice to describe. This effect was wrought upon St. Joseph by an effulgence or reflection of the divine light, which shone from the face of our Queen and which was mingled with an ineffable and always visible majesty. So much the more was this due to her than to Moses descending from the mountain (Exodus 24:30), as her dealings and conversation with God had been more extended and intimate.
On such heavenly beginnings was founded the home and the married life of the most holy Mary and St. Joseph. From September, when they were espoused, until the following March, when the Incarnation of the divine Word took place, the two Spouses thus lived together, being prepared in the meanwhile for the work designated for them by the Most High.
Words of Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda
“My daughter, in the example of the matrimonial life wherein the Most High placed me, thou findest a reproof for those souls, who allege their life in the world as an excuse for not following perfection. To God nothing is impossible, and nothing is likewise impossible to those, who with a lively faith, hope in Him, and resign themselves entirely to his divine Providence. I lived in the house of my spouse with the same perfection as in the temple; for, in changing my state of life, I altered neither my sentiments, nor the desire and anxiety to love and serve God; on the contrary, I added to my solicitude, lest the obligations of a spouse should hinder me in God’s service. On this account God favored me and disposed and accommodated powerfully all things in conformity to my desires. The Lord will do the same for all men, if on their part they correspond. They, however, blame the state of matrimony, deceiving themselves; for the hindrance to a holy and perfect life, is not the state, but the vain and superfluous cares and anxieties, in which they involve themselves forgetting the sweetness of the Lord and seeking and preferring their own.
“And, if there is no excuse for not living a perfect life in the world, still less will the duties and obligations of the religious state be an excuse. Never imagine thyself exempt from the pursuit of perfection on account of being a superioress; for since God has placed thee in office by obedience, thou must not despair of his assistance and protection; He Himself will, each day, assume the responsibility of strengthening thee and helping thee to fulfill thy duties, without relaxing in the pursuit of a perfect love due to God. Oblige Him by the sacrifice of thy own will, submitting in humble patience to all that His Divine Providence may ordain. If thou dost not hinder the course of His Providence, I assure thee of His protection and of the power of His divine arm to direct thee and guide all thy actions toward perfection.”
Words of Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden
“St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods, which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven that he ever repeated” May the Will of God ever be done in me!” He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God, whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great glory in Heaven.”
Getting to Know Joseph
Since March 19th is the feast of St. Joseph, and since he is second to none but Our Lady (and arguably St. John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said: “there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist”), we will spend a few days looking at this great saint of God. St. Joseph is generally overlooked and all focus is on Jesus and on Mary. Surely, St. Joseph is a secondary figure in the life of Jesus and rightly so; however, how much information about the life of St. Joseph do we really know?
The chief sources of information on the life of St. Joseph are the first chapters of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke; they are, practically speaking, the only reliable sources, for, though the apocryphal literature is full of details, the non-admittance of these works into the Canon of the Sacred Books casts a strong suspicion upon their contents; and, even though it may be readily granted that some of the facts recorded by them may be founded on trustworthy traditions, it is in most instances next to impossible to discern and sift these particles of true history from the legends with which they are associated. Among these apocryphal writings of St. Joseph’s life are the so-called “Gospel of James”, the “Pseudo-Matthew”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary”, the “Story of Joseph the Carpenter”, and the “Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph.”
There are also accounts of life of St. Joseph amongst the revelations made to the saints and the mystics, these are of some value, but they are by no means a guarantee of fact and certitude—although they are probably nearer to the mark than many of the assumptions made by scholars based on vague and sometimes contentious historical data. We will refer to these in the next articles after presenting a ‘dry-bones’ skeleton outline of St. Joseph as we can know and deduce from Holy Scripture. So, here are ‘bones’ of St. Joseph.
Who is He?
Who is St. Joseph? Second only to Mary, St. Joseph is the person that spent the most earthly hours and days with Jesus. The names of his mother and father have been lost to history – unknown. Genealogy research shows he was of the house of David, lineage through Solomon. St. Matthew (1:16) calls St. Joseph the son of Jacob; according to St. Luke (3:23), Heli was his father. This is not the place to recite the many and most various endeavors to solve the vexing questions arising from the divergences between both genealogies; nor is it necessary to point out the explanation which meets best all the requirements of the problem; it is sufficient, in this brief examination of St. Joseph, to remind ourselves that most modern writers readily admit that in both St. Matthew’s and St. Luke’s seemingly different genealogies of Joseph, it is quite possible to reconcile their data.
Where Did He Come From?
Bethlehem, the city of David and his descendants, appears to have been the birthplace of Joseph. When, however, the Gospel history opens, namely, a few months before the Annunciation, Joseph was settled at Nazareth. Why and when he left his birthplace to go to Galilee is not known from the Gospels; some suppose—and this is by no means improbable—that the then-moderate circumstances of the family and the necessity of earning a living may have brought about the change.
What Did He Do?
St. Joseph, indeed, was a “tekton”, as we learn from Matthew 13:55, and Mark 6:3. The word means both mechanic in general and carpenter in particular; St. Justin vouches for the latter sense, and tradition has accepted this interpretation, which is followed in the English Bible.
It is probably at Nazareth that Joseph betrothed and married her who was to become the Mother of God. When the marriage took place, whether before or after the Incarnation, is no easy matter to settle, and on this point the masters of exegesis have at all times been at variance. Most modern commentators, following the footsteps of St. Thomas, understand that, at the epoch of the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin was only affianced or engaged to Joseph; as St. Thomas notices, this interpretation suits better all the evangelical data.
This marriage, true and complete, was, in the intention of the spouses, to be virgin marriage, say St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and many others. But the faith of Joseph in his spouse was soon to be sorely tried: she was with child. However painful the discovery must have been for him, unaware as he was of the mystery of the Incarnation, his delicate feelings forbade him to defame Our Lady, and he resolved “to put her away privately; but while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. . . And Joseph, rising from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife” (Matthew 1:19, 20, 24).
A few months later, the time came for Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem, to be enrolled, according to the decree issued by Caesar Augustus: a new source of anxiety for Joseph, for “her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered”, and “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7). What must have been the thoughts of the holy man at the birth of the Savior, the coming of the shepherds and of the wise men, and at the events which occurred at the time of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, we can merely guess; St. Luke tells only that he was “wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him” (2:33).
More Tests and Trials
New trials were soon to follow. The news that a king of the Jews was born could not but kindle in the wicked heart of the old and bloody tyrant, Herod, the fire of jealousy. Again “an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee” (Matthew 2:13).
Return to Nazareth
The summons to go back to Palestine came only after a few years, and the Holy Family settled again at Nazareth. St. Joseph’s was henceforth the simple and uneventful life of an humble Jew, supporting himself and his family by his work, and faithful to the religious practices commanded by the Law or observed by pious Israelites. The only noteworthy incident recorded by the Gospel is the loss of, and anxious quest for, Jesus, then twelve years old, when He had strayed during the yearly pilgrimage to the Holy City (Luke 2:42-51).
The last time we encounter St. Joseph is in the description of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem. After that, that’s it! Abrupt end of biography of St. Joseph! He is never mentioned again in Holy Scripture. The remainder of his life, the cause of his death, the place of his death, and the place of his burial are not clear. We do know Mary is described as a widow when Jesus is about 30 years old, but we have no knowledge of St. Joseph once Jesus reaches the age of twelve.
This is the last we hear of St. Joseph in the sacred writings, and we may well suppose that Jesus’s foster-father died before the beginning of Savior’s public life. In several circumstances, indeed, the Gospels speak of the latter’s mother and brothers (Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; John 7:3), but never do they speak of His father in connection with the rest of the family; they tell us only that Our Lord, during His public life, was referred to as the son of Joseph (John 1:45; 6:42; Luke 4:22) the carpenter (Matthew 13:55).
The Death of Joseph
Would Jesus, moreover, when about to die on the Cross, have entrusted His mother to John’s care, had St. Joseph been still alive? Of course not, yet Holy Scripture, though it reports the deaths of so many persons, it remains ominously silent about the deaths of Mary and Joseph. Die, of course, he did—but when or where or how? Of this Holy Scripture is silent.
The Body and Tomb of St. Joseph
Likewise, we have no idea as to where Joseph was buried. However, private revelation speaks of his tomb being discovered at some future time: “In an ecstasy, a saint has seen the body of St. Joseph preserved intact in a tomb, the site of which is yet unknown. The more the glorious spouse of the most Blessed Virgin is honored, the sooner will the finding of his body take place, which will be a day of great joy for the Church.” (Words of Father Paul of Moll, 1824-1896, from Father Paul of Moll, by Edward van Speybrouck, p.238).
An ancient tradition states that the tomb of St. Joseph, now empty, is in the Valley of Josaphat. St. Jerome, on the other hand, was of the opinion that St. Joseph’s tomb is within the boundaries of the Garden of Gethsemane. (See Life and Glories of St. Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, pp. 409-410)
The Missing Years of Joseph
What happened in those 18 years is completely unknown to factual history. However, there have been many revelations made to the saints and the mystics concerning the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in addition to the meager facts recorded in Holy Scripture. These private revelations, of course, have nowhere near the authority, nor can they command the same obligation of credibility as does Holy Scripture—yet, nevertheless, they are at least of equal if not far greater value than mere scholarly opinions (which are just as divergent, if not more, as private revelations are divergent), which are based upon vague and sometimes contentious historical evidence.
We will begin to look at these revelations in the next article. Thus far the ‘dry-bones’ of Joseph. Next comes the ‘flesh’ and the ‘clothing’ of Joseph.
PRAYERS TO ST. JOSEPH
Prayer to St. Joseph for Assistance
O glorious St. Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary ever Virgin, and the head of the holy family. You have been chosen by Christ's Vicar as the heavenly patron and protector of the Church founded by Christ. Therefore it is with great confidence that I implore your powerful assistance for the whole Church on earth. Protect in a special manner, with true fatherly love, the Pope and all bishops and priests in communion with the See of Peter. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life, and grant that all peoples of the world may follow Christ and the Church He founded.
Dear St. Joseph, accept the offering of myself which I now make to you. I dedicate myself to your service, that you may ever be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love for the spiritual life. May all my actions, after your example, be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the divine Heart of Jesus, the immaculate heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart.
Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for a Difficult Problem
O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress. Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily. (mention your request)
O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equals thy power. Amen.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.
Memorare to Saint Joseph
Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you, and beg your protection. despise not, O foster-father of the Redeemer, my humble supplication but in your bounty hear and answer me. Amen.
Another Memorare to Saint Joseph
Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch St. Joseph, on the testimony of St. Teresa, thy devoted servant, that never has it been heard that anyone who invoked thy protection or sought thy assistance has not obtained relief. In this confidence I come to thee, my loving protector, chaste spouse of Mary, foster father of the Savior of men and dispenser of the treasures of His Most Sacred Heart. Despise not my prayer, but graciously hear and answer my petition. (mention your request)
Prayer to Saint Joseph to Obtain a Special Favor
O Blessed St. Joseph, tender-hearted father, faithful guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of the Mother of God, I pray and beseech you, to offer to God the Father, His divine Son, bathed in blood on the Cross for sinners, and through the thrice holy Name of Jesus obtain for us of the eternal Father the favor we implore.
Appease the Divine anger so justly inflamed by our crimes; beg of Jesus mercy for your children. Amid the splendors of eternity, forget not the sorrows of those who suffer, those who pray, those who weep; stay the almighty arm which smites us, that by your prayers and those of your most holy Spouse the Heart of Jesus may be moved to pity and to pardon. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph for the Unemployed
O Saint Joseph, we pray to you for those who are out of work, for those who want to earn their living or support their families. You who are the patron of workers; grant that unemployment may vanish from our ranks; that all those who are ready to work may put their strength and abilities in serving their fellowmen and earn a just salary.
You are the patron of families; do not let those who have children to support and raise lack the necessary means. Have pity on our brothers and sisters held down in unemployment and poverty because of sickness or social disorders. Help our political leaders and captains of industry find new and just solutions. May each and every one have the joy of contributing, according to his abilities, to the common prosperity by an honorable livelihood. Grant that we may all share together in the abundant goods God has given us and that we may help underprivileged countries. Amen.
Prayer to St. Joseph in time of Distress
We come to thee, O blessed Joseph, in our sore distress. Having sought the aid of thy most blessed spouse, we now confidently implore thy assistance also. We humbly beg that, mindful of the dutiful affection which bound thee to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and of the fatherly love with which thou didst cherish the Child Jesus, thou wilt lovingly watch over the heritage which Jesus Christ purchased with His blood, and by thy powerful intercession help us in our urgent need.
Most powerful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen race of Jesus Christ; drive far from us, most loving father, every pest of error and corrupting sin. From thy place in heaven, most powerful protector, graciously come to our aid in this conflict with the power of darkness, and as of old thou didst deliver the Child Jesus from supreme peril of life, so now defend the holy Church of God from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. Have each of us always in thy keeping, that, following thy example, and borne up by thy strength, we may be able to live holy life, die happily, and so enter the everlasting bliss of heaven. Amen.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for the Sale of Real Estate
I am embarrassed by the belief and superstition that suggests for the sale of real estate, St. Joseph must be buried facing North, East, South or West, placed upside down, facing the street or near the for sale sign; the following, in my opinion, is the proper Catholic devotion and accessory prayer requesting help from St. Joseph.
● The Statue should be blessed by a Catholic Priest if all possible.
● The Statue should be in a place of honor or a prominent location within the home.
● Prayers should devoutly be said asking St. Joseph for his help.
● The statue should be given a place of honor or displayed in a prominent location in the new home.
PRAYER: Holy St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary, be mindful of me, pray for me, watch over me. Guardian of the paradise of the new Adam, provide for my temporal wants. Faithful guardian of the most precious of all treasures, I beseech thee to bring this matter (mention your request) to a happy end if it be for the glory of God and for the good of my soul. Amen.