Year of Saint Joseph: “Who is Saint Joseph?” (8/9)

When on July 4, 1941, fray Aurelio Lacruz died in the Saint Nicholas of Intramuros convent, apparently of pancreatitis, the whole of Manila was moved and the press of the time echoed his death and brought to light the garments that this Augustinian Recollect adorned him, among others, his quality as a writer and the positions of responsibility that he had held in the Order itself and in the Archbishopric of Manila.
Pastoral | 2021 Nov 19

Aurelio Lacruz de la Concepción was born in Falces (Navarra) in 1878. Before being ordained a priest, he taught Latin in San Millán and theology in Marcilla (1914-1918). He was posted to the Philippines, where he spent an important part of his life. In Manila he acquired great fame for his friendly and communicative character and for his personal gifts, especially as a writer in the newspapers of that time. In 1936 he published the following article in the “Todos Misioneros'' magazine.

 

Who is Saint Joseph

Let's talk about Saint Joseph (…). Let's say something about the most chaste husband of Mary and virginal father of Jesus. His memory cheers, his name attracts, his devotion consoles. It seems that we all feel a very soft need to think about him, to invoke him, to kneel before his image and trust him with our desires and intentions. The Christian people, with acute spiritual instinct, have linked the name of Saint Joseph to the most sweet of Jesus and Mary, well convinced that our Saint is in heaven, as he was on earth, closer to Jesus and Mary than any other. another saint. That is why he comes to him with complete confidence, because he knows that his patronage is very effective and universal, extending to each and every one of our needs.

The Church, our Mother, has recently exalted Saint Joseph with special honors, paying him high-class services in the Liturgy. He has invited and invites the faithful to come to the Holy Patriarch; he has enriched Josephine devotions with many valuable indulgences and, as if all this were not enough, the great Pius IX, the Pope of the Immaculate Conception, publicly and solemnly declared Saint Joseph the patron of the universal Church.

The Catholic world has responded to the call and has become immersed in the sentiments of the Church, and in a few years the devotion to Saint Joseph has spread and increased with such speed and profusion that there is no corner of the world illuminated with the light of faith, where no chapels or altars are erected in honor of the chaste Spouse of Mary.

 

!And with what varied and beautiful manifestations the faithful show their love and devotion to the glorious Patriarch! The whole month of March is dedicated to his worship; he is honored on the nineteenth day of each month; They are consecrated to him on Wednesdays of the week, and, in preparation for his feast, seven Sundays are celebrated, a universal devotion that Christians have voluntarily imposed on themselves as a most sweet obligation, thus manifesting their love for the blessed Saint and the trust they place in his sponsorship.

The silence, the solitude, the retreat, with which the life of Saint Joseph was surrounded in the world, make him such a kind and sympathetic Saint, so kind and approachable, that we all turn to him instinctively, naturally, without qualms, sure to be well received and favorably dispatched. We have the illusion of seeing him smiling and affable at the door of the blessed workshop, and that this kind invitation is addressed to all of us: Come in, my children, come in and rest. I was already waiting for you. Tell me your griefs, that I will relieve and console you.

So it seems to speak to us; and, encouraged by his welcoming affection, we place ourselves at his side, sheltering us like little ones under his paternal hand, with the firm confidence that with his caresses he will wipe our tears and we will obtain the help of his protection.

That devotion and trust, as well as the honors that the Church pays him, can easily be explained if we stop to consider the dignity and greatness with which God enriched the virginal and nurturing father of Jesus. But that is precisely where the difficulty lies, in being able to assess that dignity and greatness. No matter how much people talk or write about this matter, we will never understand who Saint Joseph is; we can never acquire exact knowledge of his incomparable dignity.

 

Who is, indeed, Saint Joseph? I, reader, cannot tell you. The sublimity of his merits, his eminent holiness, the privileges, graces, and favors he received are beyond our knowledge. The Gospel, with its characteristic sobriety, summarizes the praise of the Saint in these brief words: “Joseph was a just man”. Although all the other virtues are included in that justice attributed to Saint Joseph, we do not know the highest degree to which the blessed Patriarch possessed them.

We can, however, penetrate with sure foot into the abyss of his greatness, attending to the sublime mission that God entrusted to him. Saint Joseph, as the Gospel says, was the husband of Mary and the virginal or Fosterfather of Jesus. This is the foundation of his dignity and greatness. The titles of husband of Mary and father of Jesus elevate Saint Joseph to such a degree of dignity and holiness that they make him superior to all other saints and even to the angels themselves; Only his most chaste wife, Mary Most Holy, the tender Mother of Jesus and of men, surpasses him.

As the husband of Mary, Saint Joseph belongs to the highest order of the Incarnation, to the hypostatic order, which is superior to the order of grace or supernatural. No other saint or angelic spirit is included in that admirable order. Only two pure creatures have been predestined and chosen by God to form in him: Mary and Joseph.

Jesus Christ, true God and Man, constitutes the essence of that order. But God, when decreeing the Mystery of the Incarnation, also decreed that his Only Begotten Son was to be born of a Virgin Mother. From which it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary intervenes in the order of the Incarnation physically, intrinsically, since from her most pure blood the Holy Spirit formed the body of Jesus Christ.

 

What shall we say about Saint Joseph? Does the Saint also belong to that adorable order? Yes; Saint Joseph also belongs, although not physically like Mary. If God in his eternal decrees wanted Jesus Christ to be born as a man, as we have said, of a Virgin Mother, he also ordered that this Virgin be married, that she have a legitimate and true husband, and that the blessed and happy husband of the Mother of Jesus is Saint Joseph.

Here, then, our Saint occupies his place within the hypostatic order, or of the Incarnation, although to a lesser degree than that of Mary. Here is our Saint placed on that glorious pedestal built by God himself, only and exclusively for Jesus, Mary and Joseph. No other saint participates in that glory; no other has been exalted to such dignity and greatness.

So let us ask: Who is Saint Joseph? And let us answer with these words that summarize all his dignity and greatness: Saint Joseph is the husband of Mary and the virginal father of Jesus. This answer says it all, but we are not given to understand all the mystery that this answer contains. There is in it a world of wonders that human ingenuity can never encompass, since the titles of husband of Mary and father of Jesus are not empty titles in Saint Joseph, nor are they a simple denomination: reality responds to them and is linked with its true consequences.

 

Saint Joseph, husband of Mary! That is the first privilege you receive from God. The holiness, grace and perfections of Mary are reflected in the husband that Jesus chooses for his Mother. This preference elevates the Saint to such a high degree of dignity that only God knows. Mary, queen of angels and men, empress of heaven and earth, sanctuary of the blessed Trinity, praised by all generations, Mother of Jesus, receives a husband chosen by God himself, a husband worthy of her, and that husband is Saint Joseph. Let us say, then, that the perfections of the Saint, the gifts that God receives, made him very similar to Mary, because between the spouses there must be the greatest possible similarity, the due proportion, the communication of goods, especially spiritual and grace.

 

Mary loved Saint Joseph and asked and desired for him those spiritual goods, an increase in grace and holiness. And if the intercession of the Mother of God is so effective for everyone, what accumulation of graces and heavenly gifts would she not obtain for her most chaste Husband, who was her benefactor and maintained and cared for her with his work? If devotion to Mary is so healthy for us, what would it be to treat, talk and live with her as a family, as Saint Joseph lived until death? Blessed Patriarch, who enjoyed the sweet conversation and familiarity of which is the life, sweetness and hope of all men!

 

Saint Joseph, virginal father of Jesus! This privilege is a consequence of the previous one. Before him every tongue should be silent and give place to the silence of meditation, because the mind is confused at the sight of such greatness. Saint Joseph is not a natural father like the other parents of his children are, because we know by faith that Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit, without the help or intervention of a man. But what Saint Joseph was not by nature, he was by grace. As the father of Jesus, he is in a certain way associated with divine paternity, since Jesus Christ is God, the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. Our saint has over Jesus the rights that parents have over their children, and this by divine delegation. The Gospel recognizes these rights, saying that Jesus Christ was subject and obedient to Joseph.

 

Have you reflected carefully, reader, all the honor and dignity, all the sublime greatness that Saint Joseph supposes to have the right to the obedience of Mary and Jesus, and to be theirs obeyed and loved as Spouse and as Father? What a stream of grace and holiness the Eternal Father would pour into the soul of the Holy One to make him worthy Father of Jesus!

As an obedient and grateful son, Jesus Christ loved Saint Joseph with tender feelings from son to father; love him with divine love and with human love. In turn, Saint Joseph loved Jesus with all the tenderness and paternal feeling that the Holy Spirit placed in his heart.

 

Let's come to the practical. To greater holiness, there corresponds greater glory in heaven, and to greater glory in heaven, corresponds greater courage towards God, greater power of intercession. Saint Joseph, therefore, being superior in glory to the other saints, his patronage is also more valuable. Jesus and Mary want to pay him in heaven what he worked for them on earth, and they pay him by granting him the graces and favors that the saint asks for his devotees. His requests as Husband and Father are like orders for Mary and Jesus.

Are you a devotee of Saint Joseph? Preserve and increase that devotion like a rich treasure. To other saints God has given grace, as Saint Thomas says, to help in particular needs; but Saint Joseph has been given to help in all of them. Jesus is the author and owner of grace, Mary is the mediator of all that we receive, and Saint Joseph with his prayers disposes of that divine treasure as husband and father. Hence its effective and universal sponsorship.

 

Are you not a devotee of the Saint? I beg you for God and for your spiritual good that from today you begin to be, and you yourself will experience the healthy effects of that devotion. Saint Teresa, a great devotee of the Saint, says of herself that she was in awe of the many favors and graces she received from that devotion and ends with these words: “I conjure you for the love of God to prove it for yourself whoever does not believe me You will see from experience how advantageous it is to entrust yourself to this Saint and have devotion to him”.

Let us, then, now and always be devoted to Saint Joseph, and, to be truly so, let us try to imitate his virtues, since that is what true devotion consists of. In this way we will please the glorious Saint and we will also please Jesus and Mary, who are pleased to see honored those who worked so hard for them on earth. May the blessed Patriarch help us in life, and come to our aid as patron of the dying at the hour of our death.

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Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

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