The Work of St. Joseph, Model of Workmen, Is to Bring Peace to All
St. Joseph led the Holy Family in their mission to restore creation to the Creator’s original intent.
Our society is in moral chaos and our Church is coming out of a time of confusion after the Second Vatican Council. Order is sought in both areas. What is needed is prudence, which is wisdom in action. As there is financial and military prudence, so there is domestic prudence guiding the family.
The family consists of five relationships and these must function according to the designs of the Creator. They are the spousal, between husband and wife; the parental, between the father and mother with their children; the filial, with sons and daughters with their parents; the fraternal, that between brothers and sisters with their siblings; and the spiritual, each of these human persons with God.
Joseph had an extraordinary family blessed with unique holiness and a mission to restore creation to the Creator’s original intent. This is the story of salvation history recounted in the Bible. It seems that each participant had a special function at a specific time.
Isaiah prophesies: “Behold, I will make a new heaven and a new earth!” (Isaiah 65:17). The old heaven and earth began at the creation of the original Adam and Eve, in the perfection of the Garden of Eden, where they enjoyed friendship with God (Genesis 3:8). After their submission to Satan, they earned divine punishment because they had been warned. But the Creator mercifully promised to restore things through a new Adam and Eve. This was the Proto-Evangelium, the foretelling of the defeat of the demon.
St. Paul defines Christ as the New Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45. Already in the second century, the Church saw Mary as the second Eve crushing the serpent’s head.
By submitting to Satan, Adam and Eve replaced God’s wisdom leading to everlasting life with the false demonic way of life leading to hell. The original divine wisdom had to be restored. This restoration included all of creation through the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom, revealed in the mighty works of God throughout salvation history.
This Incarnation took place in the humble circumstances of a laborer’s family of three — Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Their personal and family lives were directed by the Holy Spirit, who inspired their sacrificial love.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, his Paschal Mystery, embodied this wisdom bequeathed by him to his Church whose mission has been to restore mankind through the Gospel.
As time went on, each member of this earthly trinity manifested a role in the fruition of sanctifying grace. Through the ecumenical councils, the first millennium concentrated on the identity and mission of Jesus Christ, God and man. In the process, the important participation of Mary became apparent in the second millennium, through devotions, apparitions and dogmas. Now, in the third millennium, the third person of the earthly trinity is coming briskly to the fore. This seems to be aroused by the disintegration of social bonds, whose foundation is the family. This is becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
St. Joseph Enters My Ministry
St. Joseph’s mission became integrated with my ministry several years ago at St. Martha Church in Enfield, Connecticut.
It began the day a parishioner came to see me about her family’s dire circumstances. She had prayed before the icon of Our Lady in our parish church. Distraught over the fact that her high school daughter got herself into a grave moral condition, she prayed, “Mother, what are we to do for the faith and morals of our children?” A thought came to her mind which she quickly dismissed because it did not appear relevant to her prayer.
She came a day or two later with the same petition, “What are we to do about the faith and morals of our youth?” This time the idea was clear: she was to ask her father to donate his statue of St. Joseph to the parish church. She said to me that there was probably a message on the answering machine from her father. Yes, there was his voice saying he would gladly donate the statue of St. Joseph. The statue was gladly accepted and restored for a special shrine in the church.
The Meaning of the Gift
The significance of the gift of the statue puzzled me until I realized that in this way Our Lady was showing that this answer to the mother’s prayer was meant not just for her, but for the entire Church. The statue was no longer a personal possession but was now available to all, inviting and assuring them of the compassionate assistance of this powerful Patron of the Universal Church.
Our Lord specified in Mark 4:21 that a lighted lamp is not placed under a basket but is put on a lampstand to enlighten all who enter. So here, Joseph was taken out of the obscurity of one parishioner’s house and placed in the church to inspire all the parishioners.
Mary and Joseph were the mother and the father working together for their Son. As they were united in fulfilling the will of God while Jesus was accomplishing his ministry on earth, so they are united in continuing his mission on earth perfectly while in heaven.
This was confirmed by an approved apparition of Our Lady relating to St. Joseph to Larissa Baptista at Manaus, Brazil, on March 20, 2015: “I wish that your house be known as the house of Joseph, Jesus and Mary. We are a family, and where one is, the others are.”
She had also asked her to kiss the image of St. Joseph. “Peace I give you together with my spouse, St. Joseph. I love him and you must also love him. And just as I honor him, you must honor him. We bless you every day.
“Be docile to him, do not be afraid, and have no reservations in invoking him, he is your defender in so many battles, especially those within your family. Today more than ever, families must put themselves under the protection of St. Joseph, today more than ever couples must invoke him in their marital bed, today more than ever children and young people must have him as their great friend.”
Similarly, the biblical scholar Blessed Gabriel Allegra who died in 1976 stated, “In our time, Our Lady has helped us comprehend and love her dear and chaste husband, St. Joseph. She has told us of the mystery surrounding him and of his greatness. She has let us know something of her love of St. Joseph, that most lovable man who for years held the Word made flesh in his arms,” (St. Joseph Gems, p. 27).
This apparition and erudite observation seem to confirm the interpretation of the gift of the statue of St Joseph to the church.
It is important to recall that those years saw the rise of interest in fatherlessness, identified as “the most urgent social problem of our times”. That was especially evident in the book Fatherless America, published in 1996.
Pope Benedict XVI (when still Cardinal) summarized it in his book The God of Jesus Christ when he said, “The crisis of fatherhood that we are experiencing today is a basic aspect of the crisis that threatens mankind as a whole.” He elucidates this in the first volume of his study Jesus of Nazareth where he analyzes the Our Father: “It is true, of course, that contemporary men and women have difficulty experiencing the great consolation of the word father immediately, since the experience of the father is in many cases either completely absent or it is obscured by inadequate examples of fatherhood.”
The same applies to St. Joseph. It can be truly said that many Catholics have difficulty experiencing great consolation at the name of Joseph immediately, since the experience of him has been distorted by the apocryphal aberrations of his image, popularized by art, presenting him, not as a vigorous virginal youth, but as an old man, a widower, more like a caretaker than an integral member of the family.
Many saints and doctors throughout church history rejected these distortions and advocated a more reasonable and theologically sound image of him. Such were St. Augustine, born in the fourth century, and St Jerome, who lived in the Holy Land in the fourth century. By the Council of Constance in the early 15th century, a theology of St. Joseph had been compiled by the rector of Paris University, Jean Gerson, so as to name him the Father of Josephology. This development increased throughout the following centuries up to our present time, which is influenced, as Blessed Gabriel Allegra indicated, very much through Mary and verified by her instructions, such as to Larissa Baptista.
These historical facts seem to attach a prophetic dimension to the gift of the statue of St. Joseph. Obviously, in this way, the importance of St. Joseph was dramatically impressive.
Our Lady proves true the adage, “Mother will have the remedy.” She points to St. Joseph as an essential remedy for our times. She tells us “Go to Joseph” (Genesis 41:55). According to St. Claude de la Colombière, it would please her immensely if we did so because of “her zeal for the honor of St. Joseph.”