Today is the start of Section 6:
“St. Joseph’s mission is certainly unique and unrepeatable, as Jesus is absolutely unique. However, in protecting Jesus, in teaching him how to grow in age, wisdom and grace, he is a model for every educator, and in particular for every father. … I ask for you the grace to be ever closer to your children, allow them to grow, but be close, close! They need you, your presence, your closeness, your love. Be, for them, like St. Joseph: protectors of their growth in age, wisdom and grace. Guardians of their path, and educators: walk alongside them. And with this closeness, you will be true educators.”
Pope Francis, General Audience, Solemnity of St. Joseph,
March 19, 2014.
Deeper Silence Still
Throughout this journey we have learned of the humility and silence of St. Joseph. As we approach the end of our journey, let us enter even more deeply into this mystery of silence.
We know that Scripture does not record a single spoken word from the mouth of St. Joseph, but let’s take a look at the times he is at least mentioned. Of the 3,725 verses contained in the four Gospels, there are 40 that mention Joseph in some way. This count includes phrases such as “Son of the carpenter,” which is the only way John refers to Joseph. Mark leaves Joseph out altogether. Matthew and Luke give us the most information we have about St. Joseph through the infancy narratives. In addition, Matthew records the dream of St. Joseph for us. It is wise to contemplate the few passages regarding St. Joseph and the greater message made apparent by our conclusion: Joseph is silent and hidden.
St. Joseph is virtually absent in the writings of the early Church Fathers. When he is mentioned, it is nearly always a reference to the fact that he guarded Mary’s virginity or that he was the foster-father of Jesus. Conclusion: Joseph is silent and hidden.
The four major churches in Rome are St. Peter’s, St. Paul, Mary Major, and St. John Lateran (named for both John the Baptist and the Apostle John). The next most significant churches have nothing to do with Joseph either. No major church in Rome is named after St. Joseph. Conclusion: Joseph is silent and hidden.
- 1479 – It took the Church over 1,400 years to officially make a universal feast day for St. Joseph. Pope Sixtus IV declared March 19 the universal Feast of St. Joseph.
- 1870 – It took almost 1,900 years before Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church.
- 1962 – It took over 19 centuries before Pope John XXIII inserted St. Joseph’s name into the Roman Canon for the Eucharistic prayer. There were 24 saints named before him.
Conclusion: Joseph has been amazingly silent and hidden throughout the history of Church liturgy as well.
It is safe to say that over 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, St. Joseph continues to remain hidden in silence. God speaks in the silence. In order for us to progress in our understanding of St. Joseph, we must turn down the noise in our lives and enter into profound contemplation with him. If we do so, he will teach us the ways of God, the will of God and the adoration of God. He will teach us where to find God. He will teach us how to hear the voice of God and how to act upon it. He will teach us unfailing obedience, heroic trust, peace that surpasses all understanding, purity of heart, mercy that knows no bounds and a love that conquers the grave. Finally, he will invite us into his home and show us the secret delights of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Our journey is coming to an end, but yours with St. Joseph has really just begun!
- In what ways can you create more silence in your life so that you may hear the voice of the Lord?
- In which areas of your daily life do you turn on the noise?
Heavenly Father, my journey with St. Joseph is ultimately a journey towards you. I seek to draw closer to you through your saints. Your light and your virtues have shown through them like the rays of sun through a stained glass window. Your beauty is made known through your saints, O Lord. Shine through me as well. Help me to become a light to the world by reflecting your light, O Lord. Open my mind and my heart to the wisdom you wish to teach me through your son and servant, St. Joseph.
Mystery hidden from the wise and learned,
But revealed to little ones.
Take me to Nazareth and train me in your ways.
Reveal to me Christ’s hidden face present in my children.
Unveil for me the love of the Holy Spirit present in my spouse.
Teach me to manifest for them the Father who is rich in mercy.
Help me to exclude all evil from my heart and my home,
So that we might find union with God,
And experience his love, peace and joy. Amen.
(Prayer written by Steve Bollman.)