Even though we are deep in the somber and penitential season of Lent, [tomorrow] is the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the husband of Our Blessed Mother and the guardian of Jesus. Saint Joseph has been proclaimed by the Church to be the principal patron saint of the Church itself, and of the happy deaths of all those who live and die in union with Our Lord. The reason for these aspects of our devotion to Saint Joseph are pretty obvious. He was head of Jesus’s family on earth — the holy family of Nazareth, composed of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And therefore he is made also the patron of Our Lord’s wider family down through the ages and from pole to pole in this world of ours: the universal Church.
Then, we don’t know when Saint Joseph died, but it was sometime between the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus’s death on the cross when he entrusted his mother into the care of Saint John the Apostle. That would not have happened had Saint Joseph still been alive. Therefore, we presume that Saint Joseph died in the company of Our Lady and Our Lord in their home in Nazareth. What better company in which to die! Thus we ask our God through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to allow us to die in the state of grace and fortified by the sacraments of the Church as we end this phase of our existence and move on into eternal life.
I would like to read you a passage from the writings of Saint Claude de la Colombiere, the spiritual director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom the Sacred Heart appeared numerous times. He says, “Even if there were no other reason to praise Saint Joseph, we should do so in order to please Mary. There is no doubt that she strongly supports every effort to revere this saint; she herself would be honored by this. Besides the fact that he was her true husband and she always felt for him all that a virtuous wife should feel for the man to whom the Lord had bound her so closely, what gratitude must she not have felt toward him for the way he exercised his authority and for the way he respected her virginal purity! Her gratitude was equal to the love which she herself had for this virtue and therefore nothing could be more lively than her zeal for the honor of Saint Joseph.”
In addition to Our Lord and His Mother, two other saints in the history of the Church have distinguished themselves by their devotion to Saint Joseph. One was Saint Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite mystic, writer, and reformer of the Carmelite order of nuns; the other was Saint Andre Bessette, the humble little brother whose efforts in behalf of the devotion to Saint Joseph resulted in the stupendous oratory of Saint Joseph which towers over the city of Montreal in Canada. So, as we celebrate this solemnity of Saint Joseph, I wish you a constant loyalty and love for the Church to which we belong by the grace of God, and a very peaceful, holy, and happy death whenever God wills to call you into eternity. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.