A few men in my family have Joseph as a name. Many of my recent meditations on the infancy narratives have given me a stronger love for Joseph. As I’ve been praying the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, every week I make my own little trip to St Joseph’s retreat house in Milton, MA. So I’m developing an even greater fondness for the Universal Patron of the Church.
St John Paul II thought Joseph was pretty special too. He wrote quite a bit on Joseph and about his faith. I’m particular struck by his submissive will to God’s will. We often hear of Mary’s perfect alignment with the will of God, and then we think — she was sinless. Yet St Joseph does this too, like all great saints, really — finding delight in God’s will rather than one’s own. Let’s just say I’m taking notes.
The Primacy of the Interior Life
25. The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph “did.” Still, they allow us to discover in his “actions” – shrouded in silence as they are – an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery “hidden from ages past,” and which “dwelt” under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.
26. The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that “very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions-such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable virginal love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.
This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. (From Guardian of the Redeemer)