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Book review of Joseph, The Man Who Raised Jesus
BY Joseph Pronechen
Joseph, The Man Who Raised Jesus
By Father Gary Caster
Servant Books, 2013
130 pages, $14.99
To order: Franciscan Media, (800) 488-0488 or Catalog.FranciscanMedia.org
When the ancient world was in great trouble, Genesis records the directive was to: “Go to Joseph” (41:55). With today’s world topsy-turvy in so many ways, we again need to go to Joseph, this time, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus.
“This patronage must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization,” wrote Blessed John Paul II in Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer).
John Paul II further said, “Because St. Joseph is the protector of the Church, he is the guardian of the Eucharist and the Christian family. Therefore, we must turn to St. Joseph today to ward off attacks upon the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and upon the family. We must plead with St. Joseph to guard the Eucharistic Lord and the Christian family during this time of peril.”
In his latest book, Joseph, The Man Who Raised Jesus, Father Gary Caster helps us see so many reasons why we need to go to Joseph, learn from him and emulate his great example in these perilous times.
The book provides enlightening explanations of who St. Joseph is and what virtues he surely exhibited in his life. He made what seemed ordinary become extraordinary.
St. Joseph may have been a man of no words in Scripture, but Father Caster examines how eloquently his actions and life speak to us and inspire us. No nuances of St. Joseph’s life or actions appear to be unexamined.
Chapters begin by looking at Joseph as the spouse of Mary and father of Jesus; then they continue to examine his virtues in light of the Old and New Testaments. In succeeding chapters, readers see how and why Joseph exhibits, as chapter titles announce, obedience, faith, hope, charity, courage, poverty, purity, prayer, patience and more.
Father Caster also examines St. Joseph as the head of the first “domestic church” and how modern fathers should turn to Joseph for help in guiding their domestic churches.
Similarly, another section illuminates Joseph as shepherd, protector and guardian — namely, as guardian of virgins, immigrants and children.
This book is not heavy reading. Father Castor’s descriptions and applications of all of St. Joseph’s qualities are readily understandable.
One of the most surprising and enlightening aspects is the way the author shows Joseph incorporating to the highest degree all of the qualities and virtues of the Old Testament that mark or identify a just man and how Joseph brings these qualities into even more glory in the New Testament.
Father Castor brilliantly weaves in many quotes from three main sources — both the Old and the New Testaments and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“As Joseph helped Jesus grow to manhood in preparation for his public ministry, he would grow in grace and wisdom along with the Son (see Luke 2:52). Joseph knows firsthand how essential it is that we take Mary into our homes. He even wants to help each believer order, manage and build a suitable ‘home’ for Mary and her Son. For each believer that home is the heart, ‘our hidden center … the place of truth … the place of encounter … the place of covenant …’ (Catechism, 2563).”
Such references amplify the qualities of St. Joseph and prove over and over how he was a man of the Old Testament and the first, after Mary, to bring the Christianized into the New Testament.
One special note: Father Caster writes one of the most beautiful introductions a book could have. He relates the story of how his mother’s great devotion to St. Joseph permeated family life in the Caster household and how the earthly father of Jesus was always present with their family. It’s a truly beautiful and inspiring prelude — and another reason to “Go to Joseph.”
Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.