Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live life with a Franciscan focus.
(An' one of these days I'll fix the template and add a Search feature. :-P)

03 August 2006

Why I love Joseph 

I've had a fondness for Joseph, Holy Husband of Our Lady and Virgin Father of Jesus, since childhood, and so I find it sad how we tend to overlook him -- the third member of the Holy Family -- when discussing Mary and Jesus. (Thankfully, this has been steadily changing over the centuries!) It's also unfortunate that when folks do think of him, misconceptions (he was old, he was previously married and had children) abound. In future posts, I'll share some resources that address those misconceptions, and that also explain why he's such a powerful intercessor -- he ain't the Patron of the Universal Church fer nuthin'! :-P

But to start, I'll share how my Josephite devotion grew and flourished, since I'm often asked that question, along with why don't I have a devotion instead to St. Francis, since as Franciscan, shouldn't he come first?

To address the second question: Such a devotion is, in fact, a very "Franciscan thing". Franciscans have long promoted and contributed to Josephite devotion. Also, folks in religious Orders throughout the ages have had deep devotions to Our Blessed Lady, for example, as well as her Holy Husband, so that's nothing unusual. Of course, I love and strive to imitate St. Francis in everything I do, but it doesn't mean I can't firstly be devoted to the Two Pre-Eminent Saints of all, the Holy Spouses, Parents of Christ.

As to my devotion to Joseph ... Well, as a tyke, I remember always needing to find his statue whenever entering a different parish, and I'd feel discombobulated until I found it. Then I'd sigh with relief, "There are Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph! Now I'm 'at home'." And it always bothered me when folks thought only of Mary as Jesus' parent, acting like she lived in a vacuum with Jesus being the only other person in her life.

Then in recent years as I grew in obedience to and love for our Holy Mother Church, I had a corresponding growth in my love for Joseph. What really "sealed" things was when I entered the Secular Franciscan Order and also began praying the Rosary daily. I began meditating on the absolutely pivotal role Joseph played in salvation history and his humility, steadfastness, and obedience to God's will (all Franciscan qualities, btw) ... and the love just grew. And the more I meditated on the priceless gifts we have in the Word Incarnate and Mary our Mother, the more I realized that we can't ignore the man that protected, provided for, and loved them with all his heart and every fiber of his being -- Joseph. What an incredible gift to live with the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation!

The man Jesus called "daddy" cared for Him, taught Him the Law and a trade, walked with Him, laughed with Him, and marveled at Him. Once Jesus reached about 5 years old, Mary would've turned Him over to Joseph, His virginal father, for instruction. Think about it -- Joseph truly was the man closest to Christ. Because they worked together every day, Joseph was the one who spent the most time with Him during His "hidden life". How spectacular is that?

And not only was he "daddy" to the Savior of the World, he was the husband of our Blessed Mother! Just as Original Sin came into the world through a married couple, so our Redeemer came into the world through a married couple. No, Mary wasn't an "unwed mother" at the moment of the Incarnation, nor was she merely "engaged". She was truly and legally married to Joseph. A wife. Jesus was conceived, as is proper, within the bond of Holy Matrimony, not outside it.

Throughout their marriage, Joseph worked to provide safety and shelter to his wife. He acted quickly to protect her and Jesus when Jesus' life was threatened. He loved Mary more deeply and more passionately than any of us could ever hope to. He talked with her, prayed with her, ate the food she prepared, and supported her in every way.

One of the things I love meditating upon while praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary is Mary's Assumption, 'cause I picture that as a big ole family reunion, not just with her and Jesus, but her, Jesus, and Joseph. The Holy Family reunited! Can you imagine the joy those Holy Spouses must've felt to be together again? How thrilled Joseph must've been to watch Mary's Coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth? His heart must've felt like bursting! It brings tears to my eyes every time (not kidding) I think about it.

So, please, stop putting asunder what God has joined together. Keep Joseph in mind when thinking of our Blessed Lady -- these Holy Spouses always lead us to Christ, and honoring him only adds to the honor given to God.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Melissa said...

I hope they do The Holy Family justice with the upcoming move The Nativity Story (www.thenativitystory.com)

03 August, 2006 22:35  
Blogger Lisa, sfo said...

Same here! From the bits I've seen, it looks promising!

I do wish, though, that we could see a movie someday that has a more historically-accurate portrayal of Joseph -- the actor playing him in The Nativity Story is 26, whereas Joseph would've been 16-18 years old at the time of his and Mary's betrothal.

Still, 26 is a heckuva' lot better than 86! :-D

04 August, 2006 09:41  
Blogger and also with you said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for your e-mail this week! As you know, I have a deep devotion to Joseph, both for his role as foster-father to Our Savior, and also because my baptismal name is “Joseph Francis.”

Many traditions in the Church hold that Joseph was quite a bit older than Mary. The “brothers” of Jesus mentioned in the gospels were obviously not biological brothers, but were possibly Joseph’s children from a previous marriage ending with him as a widower. The age difference explains, among other things, why Joseph had obviously passed away prior to Christ’s public ministry. Most of the holy cards you see show Joseph as an elderly man, even during Christ’s infancy. I like the one on the sidebar of my blog, though, because it shows him as a strong, younger man.

And yes, I have checked out Rosary Army and Riecken and Sons, and have already ordered several colors of twine. Since I have several rosaries already, I have focused on making chaplets. I have made St. Patrick and St. Ann chaplets for friends with those confirmation names, and am now working on a Seven Sorrows chaplet and a St. Joseph chaplet for myself!

Peace and all good,

Frank

04 August, 2006 10:15  
Blogger Lisa, sfo said...

Hey Frank!

I've actually shared quite a lot of resources elsewhere (that I'll be adding to my site here in the future) that specifically deal with Joseph's age (he was 16-18 years old) and perpetual virginity.

Until I get those posts copied here, you can see what I've shared elsewhere:

Josephology: On Joseph's Age at His Betrothal to Mary
Josephology: On Joseph's Age, Part II

04 August, 2006 12:16  
Blogger Lisa, sfo said...

Oh, I also forgot to mention in my previous comment that I've done extensive searching of all kinds of Josephite imagery (statues, holy cards, painting, etc.), and by far and away, he's presented as a young man. I estimate that he's only portrayed as old in about 1-2% of what I've seen so far.

And heck, since I don't know when I'll get 'round to copying over all my Josephological posts from elsewhere, here's another link pertaining to his virginity: Josephology: On Joseph's Virginity.

Also, this is great resource from the Oblates of St. Joseph on the subject: The Virginity of Saint Joseph in the Latin Fathers and Medieval Ecclesiastical Writers, by Fr. Florent Raymond Bilodeau.

04 August, 2006 12:37  
Blogger and also with you said...

Thanks, Lisa. I had not researched Joseph nearly as extensively as you have. Of course, if Joseph was a young man, he was certainly not a widower. And if he was not married previously, then his perpetual virginity is a given. The only lingering question for me, then, is why he is absent (presumably dead) during Christ's ministry. That would make his death at a relatively early age. I recall hearing as a child that he was perhaps 30 at the time of his betrothal...that middle-ground answer seems to answer all the questions, to my addled mind.

You've obviously had a different experience with images of Joseph than I have had. When I was looking for an image to put on my blog, I used this list: http://www.catholic-forum.com/SAINTS/saintj01.htm
Many of the 60 or so pictures on there are older Josephs. I had a hard time finding the one I did, though ironically after I posted it on my blog, I found a laminated version of the same pic in my church's gift shop. I would love to find a statue of Joseph and Jesus that is similar to that, showing Joseph as a strong, younger man...but so far, no luck.

04 August, 2006 13:22  
Blogger Lisa, sfo said...

Regarding Joseph's death, most saints, scholars, theologians, etc., believed that Joseph probably died shortly before Jesus began his public ministry, and it wasn't due to old age, since folks do die from causes other than bein' old. :-P

And the cause of his death isn't so much of an issue as that he died surrounded by Jesus and Mary. A touching opinion is from St. Francis de Sales, who suggested that Joseph died of the love of God; a view which St. Alphonsus Liguori considered quite reasonable.

Oh, if you'd like to see a sampling of just some of the Joseph imagery I've found over the years: I enjoy making custom avatars for use in forums, so I've taken the Joseph ones I've got to date and put 'em all in this zip file so ya can see some of what I've found. (I'll be deleting that zip file off my server in a few days to free up bandwith.) Because they're for avatar use, they're all 96 x 96 pixels, but they're still easy to view.

04 August, 2006 15:11  

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