St. Joseph - Reflections

St. Joseph: The Holy Cross Tradition

Author: Fr. Claude Grou, C.S.C.

A stained glass image of St Joseph from a window in the Oratory done by artist Marius Plamondon
I have often been asked why Saint Joseph had such a great importance for Saint Brother André. We can certainly speak of the importance of St. Joseph for Canada, or of the place of St. Joseph in the devotional life of French Canadian families but we can equally say that Br. André found in Holy Cross a fertile ground to develop a spirituality that gave a prominent place to St. Joseph. I want to share with you a few elements of the devotion to St. Joseph as it evolved in Holy Cross, starting from the very early days when Fr. Basile Moreau accepted responsibility for the Brothers of Saint Joseph.
In Father Moreau’s life and teaching
From the very beginning of the Congregation, St. Joseph had been seen as an important figure. Blessed Moreau often referred to him as “our glorious patron,” our “holy patron” or the “incomparable patron of our Congregation.” He certainly kept in mind that the group of religious entrusted to him were called the “Brothers of Saint Joseph.”
In his early letters, Fr. Moreau often spoke about St. Joseph in the context of the Holy Family. Seeking more solidarity in his community, our founder saw the unity between Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the Holy Family, as a model for Holy Cross brothers, priests, and sisters.
Learn more about the patrons of the Holy Cross family
Fr. Albert François Cousineau, C.S.C., who was Superior General from 1938 to 1950, explains how this approach of the Holy Family is an essential element of Father Moreau’s spirituality. He writes, “It is important to come back to what we can call the very soul and the mystical inspiration of the spirituality of our Congregation. Let us sum up this mystical vision. It is incorporation in Christ. The earthly model proposed by Father Moreau in his circular letter of September 1841 is the Holy Family. The fruit that can be expected from our faithfulness to this ideal is the union among us modeled on the union of the three persons in the Holy Trinity.”
Oratory of St Joseph
St. Joseph was, however, most often seen as the one to whom we go to receive God’s favor and protection. Holy Cross religious were invited to pray to St. Joseph asking for his support in all aspects of their lives. Following spiritual authors of his time, Fr. Moreau often used the Latin expression “Ite ad Joseph,” (“Go to Joseph”) as he invited people to ask for the help of St. Joseph.
The words “Go to Joseph” refer, in fact, to Joseph the son of Jacob in the Old Testament. In the book of Genesis (Gen. 42, 55) these words are found as an instruction given by the Pharaoh to the Egyptian nation, bidding them to go to Joseph his vizier who would answer all their needs. In devotional instruction at the time of Fr. Moreau, it appeared as an invitation to pray to St. Joseph because he also can answer our prayers. In one of his sermons, Fr. Moreau after mentioning the expression “Ite ad Joseph” added, “Implore Saint Joseph and he will open to you the treasures of divine grace.”
In his circular letters, he regularly invited the members of the community to give particular attention to the devotion to St. Joseph. In his letter of February 6, 1861, he explained at greater length the importance of this feast. In his circular letter for the month of St. Joseph in 1861, he hoped to set up a place of pilgrimage to St. Joseph. He writes, “How happy I would be if, in our Solitude at Chardonnière, I could establish a place of pilgrimage in honor of this worthy spouse of the Queen of Virgins…” (p. 373).
Blessed Basile Moreau 1
Father Moreau also saw Saint Joseph as a model of life. In his circular letter, Father Moreau wrote, “It is not enough merely to call upon him, we must foster devotion to him and above all imitate his virtues…”  (Circular Letter 138). His chaste relationship with the Virgin Mary is a model of chastity for religious. His readiness to respond to the mission entrusted to him, his obedience to the call received from God encourages religious to have the same attitude of obedience to God and the same zeal to do the will of God.
St. Joseph is also a model of humility and poverty. Fr. Moreau said, “Saint Joseph who was so noble by reason of his ancestry and so eminent because of the mission entrusted to him, lived a humble life earning his bread in the sweat of his brow…” (Circular Letter 138).
Father Moreau’s successors
Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., Superior General from 1868 to 1893, continued this tradition of devotion to St. Joseph. He spoke of St. Joseph as a model but he viewed St. Joseph particularly as a protector for the work of Holy Cross. This is very clear in the difficult moment after the fire that destroyed the Main Building of the University of Notre Dame in 1879. As he undertook the new construction with very limited financial means, he placed his confidence in St. Joseph, convinced that with his help the work would be completed.
Learn about past Holy Cross Superiors General
As Holy Cross spread out and developed many educational institutions, Fr. Sorin invited the religious to foster devotion to St. Joseph particularly during the month of March; in a circular letter of 1869 he insists on the importance to celebrate with solemnity the month dedicated to St. Joseph, our patron. He gives specific instructions on the way to celebrate the month of St. Joseph: “In each class we will use the minutes at the end of the day to offer special prayers to Saint Joseph and in each class room there will be an altar with a statue or a picture of St. Joseph.”
The figure of Brother Andre and Saint Joseph Oratory
Fr. Gilbert Français, C.S.C., Superior General from 1883 to 1926, continued in the same tradition but it was during his term as Superior General that a new dimension of the devotion to St. Joseph in the Congregation of Holy Cross appeared with the founding of Saint Joseph’s Oratory. In 1918, when the Crypt Church was inaugurated at the Oratory, he wrote a letter to the superior of the Oratory, expressing his joy to see the manner in which Saint Joseph was honored in Montreal. He does not refer directly to Br. André, but he shows his belief in the importance of the shrine. While expressing his joy and his support, he says nothing of Br. André. It is only after the death of the founder of the Oratory that his name will be celebrated.
Br André at the Chapel of St Joseph
In 1937, Fr. James Donahue, C.S.C., as Superior General mentioned the name of Br. André, but his comment is directed toward the importance of the devotion to St. Joseph for Holy Cross. He writes, “I have felt for some time now the need to encourage all our religious to deepen and intensify their devotion to Saint Joseph. I am convinced that it is God’s will. We are called to this as a community as well as individual members of the community…” Later he adds, “May the death of our Br. André and the return of the month of March be for us an occasion to renew our devotion to St. Joseph."
In 1938, Fr. Cousineau was elected Superior General. At the time of his election, he was superior of St. Joseph’s Oratory. He had accompanied Brother André during the last days of his life. It was natural for him to continue this tradition of devotion to St. Joseph and to see this devotion in its relationship with Br. André and the development of St. Joseph’s Oratory.  
Read more reflections by Holy Cross religious
In following years, when the process leading to the beatification and canonization of Brother André progressed, the devotion to St. Joseph and to Br. Andre became more and more common.
Since the time of its foundation, Holy Cross has always been exhorted to give an important place to St. Joseph as a model and a powerful intercessor before God. As we celebrate the feast of this great saint, we are all invited to imitate him and renew our commitment to dedicate our life to the mission God has entrusted to us.
St. Joseph is for us a guide and a protector.

St. Joseph
The Husband of Mary 

            The Bible does not record a single word spoken by St. Joseph, chosen by God together with his spouse Mary to be the head of the Holy Family. While we do not have a single sentence St. Joseph spoke, yet we know much about him from the Bible, God's own Word. St. Joseph is very much a figure of the Gospels and necessary in God's plan for our redemption. Like Mary, St. Joseph was not necessary absolutely but necessary because God's plan was that the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity would become man in order to save humanity and would do this within a family. Joseph was chosen to be the father of that family.
            The Litany of St. Joseph approved by the Universal Church tells us much about St. Joseph. He is called, "most just, most chaste, most obedient, most faithful, guardian of virgins, patron of the dying, protector of Holy Church," among other titles. St. Joseph is the renowned offspring of David, the light of patriarchs and spouse of the Mother of God. While the Church has traditionally and rightfully called him the foster father of the Son of God, yet a title theologians and spiritual writers are also turning to today is "virginal father of Jesus Christ and the true husband of Mary."

            St. Joseph is the patron of the dying. As far as we can know from Sacred Scripture, this virginal father of Jesus Christ died before Our Lord died on the Cross. It is piously believed that St. Joseph died in the presence of his wife Mary and his virginal Son, Jesus Christ. We can contemplate the sorrow in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary at the death of St. Joseph. Jesus became "a man in all things except sin" and therefore experienced human sorrow as at the death of His very dear friend Lazarus. He surely experienced a more intense sorrow when Joseph, His virginal father, left him in physical death.

            Joseph was a man who perfectly responded to the stupendous calling God gave him. The American Catholic Bishops, in their Marian Pastoral, "Behold Your Mother, Woman of Faith,” had this to say about the age of Joseph. "According to the custom of her time and people, Mary was probably no more than 14 when her parents arranged her marriage, and Joseph probably about 18. God asked great things of them both and they responded to His call with dedicated love" (chapter 5, 143).

            It is not giving a true picture of Joseph the young husband and father to picture him as a very old man with his foster Son. It was not an old man who was able during the night at the message of an angel to obey the angel of the Lord and make the long escape into Egypt, travelling by primitive means. "So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead . . ." (Mt. 2:14-15).
            We do not have any exact words handed down to us as spoken by St. Joseph, but obviously Joseph himself told of the different times he received messages from an angel of the Lord.

            St. Matthew in his gospel tells us Joseph is an "upright" or "just man." For Scripture to use such a description is saying much about a man. Being a just man, he is endowed with many other corresponding virtues that make him truly holy. Joseph appears in the life of the Holy Family at decisive times to exercise his role as father. The name of Joseph is seen at the end of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, "son of David, son of Abraham," as St. Matthew opens his gospel. It ends, "Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ" (Mt. 1:16). Through Joseph, the Evangelist here unites Christ to the descent of David. You remember that the Savior was to come from the House (family) of David so as to fulfill the prophecies.

            One can try to imagine the great sorrow of Mary when she realized that Joseph did not know the source of the Child she obviously carried in her womb. It is apparent that the angel had not told Mary to reveal this to her husband or she certainly would have. Joseph was faced with a decision that must have tormented his conscience and mind - what he should do with Mary pregnant - when Joseph knew that he himself was still living by the vow of virginity that both he and Mary had taken, even though they were rightfully husband and wife.

            Joseph was a "just man." He trusted his wife Mary. Never for a moment would this "just man" consider his most holy wife to be guilty of sin. Yet he could not understand the what or how of the situation which was obvious to his eyes. Being a man of honor, a good and holy man, Joseph did not want to expose her to the rigor of the Law (Dt. 22-20f.) when he did not understand the mystery.
            Jewish betrothal had the force of law that the fiancé (engaged) was already called "husband" with the privileges of a husband with his wife. Joseph's justice is seen not in wanting to withhold his name from a child whose father he did not know but in his being convinced of Mary's virtue while he himself remained bewildered by mystery.

            Finally the angel came and informed Joseph that the Child that Mary was with would mean that it would also be his Child, for it was conceived by the Holy Spirit but only within his marriage to Mary.
            "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins" (1 Mt. 1:20-21).

            Notice how the paternity (fatherhood) of Joseph is recognized. The Savior would come from the family of David, of which Joseph was a member, and Joseph was to give the name to the Savior. The Son of Mary would be the Son of Joseph too, in an even higher sense than is normally and naturally the case with human fathers.

            The Child was conceived and born within the marriage bond of Mary and Joseph. Joseph is the father of Jesus through Mary. It is all through the miraculous intervention of God, yet within the true marriage of Mary and Joseph. And this very solemn point is to be remembered. Joseph represents in a human way the First Person of the Blessed Trinity to the Christ Child. In heaven, from all eternity, God the Father is the "Father" Jesus will speak of so often. Within the human family, Joseph is His father, and He is Joseph's Son. His community called Jesus "the carpenter's Son," and the "just man" could accept that title.

            Marriage is the channel of parenthood for St. Joseph. Jesus is God become Man to save the world from its sins, and this is accomplished within a human family, in the family line of David, with St. Joseph as the virginal father of Jesus Christ.
            As St. Joseph took the Child and His Mother into Egypt and then to Nazareth, he was regarded by all as the father of Jesus and the spouse of Mary. And it is this way that the Bible, God's own Word, describes Joseph also, and more than once:

            "Is not this man Jesus, the son of Joseph?"
            In various passages of the Bible we see Joseph in the role of father and parent. St. Luke records the prophecy of Simeon: "And father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him" and when Mary and Joseph missed the Christ Child St. Luke records: "And when he was twelve years old, they went up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast. And having fulfilled the days, when they resumed, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not."

            When Mary is astonished and says: "Son, why have you done so to us? Behold your father and I have sought you sorrowing," Jesus replied: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?" Jesus here referred to his heavenly Father. Jesus was not putting down His virginal father or Mary's emphasis on the paternity and maternity of Joseph and Mary. Their roles are rather enhanced. For the next words of the Gospel tell us: "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." The eternal Son of the heavenly Father, Jesus, goes down to Nazareth and obeys His true human parents, while Mary ponders in her Immaculate Heart the reminder of the Child Jesus that He is also the Son of the heavenly Father.

            The paternity (fatherhood) of Joseph was singular and different from all others. It was entirely supernatural by conception but natural by law and by marriage. The father is very important in the emotional development of any child. Our Lord was like us "in all things except sin." That means that Joseph had a profound influence on the development of the boy Jesus. The love that existed between this father and this Son was realized in a union of souls on a higher level, both natural and supernatural, than has ever been before or since or will ever be realized again.

            St. Joseph directed the worship of God for his family. The Bible gives us the account of the Holy Family going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover "as was their custom" (Lk. 2:42).
            The paternity of St. Joseph was not for Christ Jesus alone but for all the members of His Church. Catholics are well aware that the motherhood of Mary was not simply for Christ but for all the members of the Church by grace. She is the Mother of the Church. Less remembered in the minds of many is the role of Joseph in relationship to the entire Church.

            Let us think again of God's plan of salvation. The person of Joseph and his role in God's plan are closely related to the way God came into this world. Wanting to be like us in all things except sin, Jesus had a family heritage like the rest of us. Jesus enters into a family, "born of a Woman" who has a loving husband. Jesus is conceived and born with strong parental ties. It is a real family, not make-believe. There is a real husband who becomes the real father by divine intervention.

            It was under the family authority of Joseph that the "Word was made flesh." Not to an unmarried Virgin was Jesus born but in all the sanctity of family life of which Joseph is, by God's plan, an essential head. "To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary."
            It is not correct to say that Joseph was the adopted father of the Christ Child. His paternity was not merely symbolic but real. St. Thomas Aquinas put it this way: "Joseph is in the same manner as much father of Christ as spouse of Mary, not by virtue of the union of blood but by matrimonial right." Jesus came forth as the fruit of the matrimony of Mary and Joseph, which was for the purpose of bringing forth the Child Jesus.

            Just as Mary said "Yes" (Fiat) to the request of heaven that she become the Mother of the Redeemer, so Joseph, when he fully understood all, said "Yes" to the plan of heaven. The angel announced to Joseph that Mary was with Child "begotten . . . of the Holy Spirit." Joseph did not put her away privately then. He accepted her as his wife and accepted the Child Jesus as his own. Joseph provided for and protected the Child as well as His Mother, for they were truly his family which he freely accepted.

            With faith and love and obedience, Joseph represented the whole human race in accepting the Savior Child, just as Mary represented all of humanity in saying, "Be it done . . . according to your word."
            By becoming father of Christ, who is the Head of the Mystical Body, the Church, St. Joseph becomes by grace a spiritual father to each one of us as Mary is spiritual Mother.
            It is true the Word was already made flesh when Mary said "Yes, " but for the Redemption to fully to begin to operate in the family there are still needed the acceptance, the "yes" of Joseph. Fathers of the Church from early centuries saw Joseph as another Adam as Mary was a second Eve.

            Eve first sinned and then influenced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. When Adam also sinned the entire human race fell. Mary first cooperated with the grace of accepting the Incarnation (God becoming Man), and she was like a new or second Eve. Then Joseph enters, and unlike Adam who accepted the forbidden fruit, Joseph accepts the blessed fruit of Mary's womb as His own. In this way St. Joseph agrees to give the Redeemer to all of humanity, as Adam gave sin to all of humanity. Yes, Joseph, as Scripture says, "You shall name him Jesus, for it will be he who will save the people from their sins." Joseph became a new family's head with a father's role in the spiritual history of humanity.

            Mary cooperates with God in undoing the work of the first Eve. Joseph cooperates fully with God in undoing the work of the first Adam. A woman first accepts evil in the world and then influences her husband. A Woman also first accepts the Author of Grace in the world, and her example and virtue influence her husband to accept the same Author of Grace for the world.

SUMMARY: Readers of this book, SAINTS AND HEROES SPEAK, will have noticed that whereas almost every chapter begins by having the saint or hero speak in the first person, your author did not do that with this chapter. I would not presume to do what God in His infinite wisdom chose not to do. Joseph has appeared in Sacred Scripture and through the centuries as a just and holy man clothed in silence and mystery. But what he was and is, is still being meditated upon by the Church after 2,000 years, and a great appreciation of this man of the Gospels is beginning to develop more fully and profoundly in our own times.

            God has His way and His purpose and time, which human thoughts and ways cannot improve upon. It would seem to me, however, that our own times, so sadly in need of recapturing and remembering and then living the sanctity of family life and the importance of the father in the family, have been blessed by heaven to understand more fully the holiness and importance of the role of the virginal father and head of the Holy Father, St. Joseph.
            Just at a time when divorce, the breakdown of family unity, the abandonment of the family as "a little Church" (a place where we first learn about God and His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior) are all spreading too rapidly, the Holy Spirit moves the members of the Universal Church, of which St. Joseph is the Protector, to study again in prayer the role of that father of the Holy Family.

            Below I should like to share with you the words of Pope Paul VI concerning St. Joseph:
            "Today our religious thought is attracted by an evangelical figure, extremely humble and good, St. Joseph. No words of his have come down to us, but by what mysterious charism it is documented, if his life, which protects and qualified the social life of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus' life as a child and youth, is guided in dreams of angelic apparitions and teachings!
            "His presence in the Messianic plan, his protective and pedagogic mission in the domestic nucleus, the 'Holy Family,' through which Christ entered human society, his privileged and self-sacrificing union with Mary, mother of the Son of God and Son of Man, give St. Joseph special claims on our administration, and particularly justify our confidence in his patronage, which extends, by divine plan, over the whole Church, the mystical body of Christ, and which each of us can therefore invoke for himself.

            "We remember the visit we made, long ago, to the great sanctuary dedicated to St. Joseph, on a hill near Montreal, in Canada. The sanctuary, which was built in 1904, thanks to the admirable tenacity and effort of Brother Andrew, a lay religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (he died in 1937), became a very popular center for the cult of the saint whom we are celebrating today. In the apse of the high altar of the sanctuary itself, a number of chapels open like a fan. Each of them is dedicated to a title that recommends St. Joseph to the pious and confident intercession of the various categories of his devotees; there is, for example, the chapel of St. Joseph, protector of workers, the chapel of the protector of virgins, the protector of fiancés, the protector of families, the protector of children, the protector of refugees, the protector of the poor, the protector of the dying, and let us also add the protector of every Christian. St. Joseph, from whom Jesus inherited membership of the house of David; St. Joseph, whom Jesus himself obeyed; St. Joseph, whose labors Jesus shared, reaming the art of manual work, to the extent of being called 'the carpenter's son' (Mat. 13:55); St. Joseph, who was poor and humble, a man of faith and sacrifice, completely dedicated to Jesus and Mary, is certainly an effective intercessor, capable both of listening to us and of being listened to by Christ; not in vain declared by Pope Pius IX Patron Saint of the Universal Church (in 1870). "Let us love him, and let us try to win his love, particularly for the whole family of God, which is the Church, as the Council teaches us (Lumen Gentium, n. 51). This, we think, will make the Blessed Virgin happy, and she will make her own his intervention in the communion of Saints" (Osservatore Romano, English edition, March 27, 1975).

            It was the privilege of the author of this book shortly before ordination to Christ's holy priesthood to go on pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Joseph, his Oratory, on the hill near Montreal in Canada mentioned by the Pope above. It is indeed heart-touching to see how the devotion of a humble and insignificant lay Brother to the virginal father of Jesus, has become known the world over. St. Joseph's Oratory, built through the inspiration and devotion of Brother André, has grown to be the second largest Church in Christendom, exceeded in size only by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

            From an early age, my second name being "Joseph" (children of my acquaintance when growing up considered the second name our "Saint's Name") I reamed a devotion to St. Joseph. But I have come to know that St. Joseph is Patron for every Christian, the universal Church.
            Communism has sought to separate the working-class people in the world from Christ's holy Church. In parts of the world demonstrations would take place on May 1 each year. The Catholic Church answered this attempt of atheistic Communists by establishing the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman on May 1. In the United States the same feast may be celebrated on Labor Day. The Church presents St. Joseph as its Patron in overcoming Communism, which attempts to conquer the world.

            In the fifth apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917, Our Lady announced that on October 13, 1917, the entire Holy Family would appear at the same time as the promised miracle so that all could believe the children were telling the truth. In the July 13 apparitions of that year, Our lady requested the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. She added: "If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and it will be converted, and a time of peace will be conceded to the world . . . ."

            In September, 1917, Our Lady said: "In October, Our Lord will come, and also Our Lady of Dolors and Our Lady of Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world . . . ."
            Sister Lucia, still living at the time of the writing of this book, as the surviving seer of Fatima, wrote the following regarding the October apparition:
            "When Our Lady disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament, beside the sun we saw Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus, and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they made the Sign of the Cross with their hands. A little later this vision vanished, and I saw Our Lord, and Our Lady who appeared to me to be Our Lady of Dolors. Our Lord seemed to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph. This apparition disappeared, and I saw Our Lady again, this time resembling Our Lady of Mount Carmel."

            It is most interesting that in the approved Fatima apparitions, St. Joseph appears with the Child Jesus. It reminds us of his role as virginal father. Both St. Joseph and the Christ Child are seen blessing the world. Fatima was a message for the world. St. Joseph's significance in the plan of salvation was for the whole world too. It surely seems that in this final apparition of October 13, 1917, the very month when the Church encourages the prayer to St. Joseph, also the month of the rosary, which the Church encourages as an ideal family prayer, heaven would present to us the entire Holy Family and emphasize the role of St. Joseph as a father of a family and one who intercedes for a blessing for the entire world.

            We can conclude this chapter on St. Joseph by reminding readers that whereas each one of us should have a special devotion to our patron saint, yet St. Joseph is protector and patron for every Christian. In a time when much of the world suffers in poverty, the humble St. Joseph is presented to us, he who could not find any place for the birth of his Son except a place intended for animals. He was unable to provide any offering except that of a pair of turtle doves at the presentation of the Divine Infant at the Temple.

            Fathers of families can pray to St. Joseph and take inspiration from him as they desire heavenly guidance of their children. Husbands can look to St. Joseph for inspiration, and for faithfulness to their wives, as can those planning for marriage. Virgins can pray to him for spiritual strength and inspiration to preserve their purity. Wives and sweethearts can look to this holy, pure, just man of faith and love to inspire them and their present or future spouses with all the virtues needed. Children can look to St. Joseph as a model father and pray for their own family father.

            God became Man to save the world, and He became Man within a family. St. Joseph was the father of that family God chose within which to redeem the world. That family, the Holy Family, has grown to include the universal family of God's Holy People, the entire Church.
            What is needed is to bring St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, out of the shadows and put him where God placed him, next to Jesus and Mary. St. Joseph is the "hidden gem" in the Mystery of Mary, that of her marriage to Joseph. We must beware of thinking of Mary as almost a cloistered nun, rather than what she truly was, "a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph."

            St. Joseph was the man closest to Jesus. He is the model man at the side of Our Lady. He was a married man. This unique marriage was called for by God for the Mystery of the Incarnation God becoming Man.
            As devout Catholics seek to re-establish a Christian society, St. Joseph is needed as model. As he becomes known to boys and young men, he will inspire them with manly spirituality in a life of purity. They will want to imitate his respect for womanhood as seen in the young maiden Mary, the wife who became the Mother of God.

            St. Joseph opens up for modern man the model for fatherhood, for youthful strength that rejects worldly standards and abuses of human sexuality but nonetheless points to the sanctity of courtship and human love in the highest degree in Christ.
            We must look upon St. Joseph as a man in every sense of the word. He was the virginal young man engaged to the perfectly sinless Mary. He became the virginal spouse, the virginal father, unique in history and yet a model of what a man so close to Christ is capable of achieving. While other young men and other fathers will never be called to achieve his role in the mystery of the Incarnation yet every Christian family is a miniature Mystical Body.

            Within marriage, the average Christian vocation, the Incarnation is realized again in the beautiful flowering of human sexuality as God intended within the Sacrament of Matrimony. Every true Catholic Christian family is an image of the Church. All the members are joined in Christ. Human sexuality, as God intended, becomes not a source for sin but a source for grace, a growing in the very life of God.
            When the true marriage of Joseph and Mary is appreciated, this alone, when put into the lives of the average Christian, would do much to Christianize society. Why? The family is the basic unit of society. If the family crumbles, society and the nation crumble. If family life is strengthened in Christ, the Church and the nation are strong, united.

            St. Joseph should be presented to our families, and his intercession sought by today's youth, seeking purity, and seeking to fulfil one day the true Christian fulfilment of marriage in Christ.