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Why do we celebrate a Solemnity of St. Joseph?

After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the greatest of the saints. He is the one “into whose custody God entrusted his most precious treasures,” Jesus and Mary. In his Apostolic Exhortation Custodian of the Redeemer, Pope St. John Paul II elaborates on this statement of Pope Leo XIII, as it touches upon Mary and Joseph’s vocation with respect to the Incarnation of the Eternal Word,

[This is] the mystery in which Joseph of Nazareth “shared” like no other human being except Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word. He shared in it with her; he was involved in the same salvific event; he was the guardian of the same love, through the power of which the eternal Father “destined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5). (continue below)


Why do we celebrate a Solemnity of St. Joseph? (continued from above)

And later, [If] Mary is the Lord’s humble servant, prepared from eternity for the task of being the Mother of God. Joseph is the one whom God chose to be the “overseer of the Lord’s birth”, the one who has the responsibility to look after the Son of God's “ordained” entry into the world, in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws (Custodian of the Redeemer, 8). The Church therefore honors St. Joseph on Match 19th for his faithfulness to God, and to his vocation as Custodian of the Redeemer.

What does the Bible say about St. Joseph?

It would be misleading to gauge St. Joseph’s importance by the number of words attributed to him in Scripture. As is so often the case in the Bible, a few seemingly simple remarks say more than we can comprehend in a lifetime of study and reflection. The Bible does not give us an exhaustive picture of the saint, but then neither does it contain a definitive biography of Christ or His Mother. However, Scripture does tell us all that we need to know about Saint Joseph, as well as the mission assigned him in the plan of salvation. The following points are the main facts in the life of Saint Joseph that Sacred Scripture proposes as historically true.

  1. Saint Joseph was married to Mary, the Mother of God.

  2. Saint Joseph was considered to be the Father of Jesus.

  3. Saint Joseph exercised paternal rights over the child Jesus.

  4. Saint Joseph was a just man

“If you want to be close to Christ, I repeat to you ‘Ite ad Ioseph’: Go to Joseph!” - Ven. Pius XII

What can we learn from Saint Joseph?

We can learn about the importance of faith when we see how deeply he believed the message of the angel: Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25) We understand courage when we hear about the flight into Egypt: Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. (Matthew 2:13-15) We also learn about obedience. St. Joseph was obedient to Our Lord, even in the midst of great trials and danger.

“If anyone cannot find a master to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious saint [Joseph] as his master, and he will not go astray.” - St. Bernadette Soubirous

What is special about St. Joseph?

Out of all of the men who will ever live, the Eternal Father chose St. Joseph to be the earthly father of His Divine Son. This was necessary to the Divine Plan; not necessary as the only way God could have saved the world, but necessary according to the wisdom and the will of God as the way the world would be saved. Love, honor, and respect for Joseph is owed to Joseph due to this eternal divine choice and Joseph’s own will to cooperate with the Divine plan fully.

What does St. Joseph help with?

St. Padre Pio said, “Go to Joseph with extreme confidence, because I do not remember having asked anything from St. Joseph, without having obtained it readily.” Since St. Joseph was the foster-father of Jesus, he was continually working for his family, the Holy Family. He provided for them, protected them, and was the head of the family. Now that he is in Heaven, he is a powerful intercessor for us and the patron saint of many different people and places.

Of what is St. Joseph the patron saint?

St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church, unborn babies, families, fathers, immigrants, social justice, carpenters, those seeking employment, realtors, and a happy death. His greatest patronage, however, is that of the Universal Church, an office that can be said to have begun with the “domestic church” of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Just as he diligently watched over the Christ Child, he continues to protect the Mystical Christ, the Church.

How did St. Joseph serve God?

St. Joseph was unfailingly obedient to God’s commands. When the angel told St. Joseph to not be afraid to bring Mary his espoused wife into his home, he obeyed. When he was warned to escape to Egypt, he obeyed. He continually provided for his family and protected them—even in the face of great danger. Even though he was not the father of Jesus biologically, St. Joseph was a devoted father to the Word Incarnate, taking the place on earth of His Father in heaven.

At the end of every account in which Joseph plays a role, the Gospel tells us that he gets up, takes the child and his mother, and does what God commanded him (cf. Mt 1:24; 2:14.21). - Pope Francis

Why is St. Joseph the patron saint of a happy death?

When he died, St. Joseph was presumably in the presence of both Jesus and the Blessed Virgin. There is no greater gift than to have Our Lord and Our Lady near at the hour of death. St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “Since we all must die, we should cherish a special devotion to St. Joseph that he may obtain for us a happy death.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, 1014. . . . The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord"; to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death. The Novena to St. Joseph says, Saint Joseph, how fitting it was that at the hour of your death Jesus should stand at your bedside with Mary, the sweetness and hope of all mankind. You gave your entire life to the service of Jesus and Mary; at death you enjoyed the consolation of dying in Their loving arms. You accepted death in the spirit of loving submission to the Will of God, and this acceptance crowned your hidden life of virtue. Yours was a merciful judgment, for your foster-Son, for whom you had cared so lovingly, was your Judge, and Mary was your advocate. The verdict of the Judge was a word of encouragement to wait for His coming to Limbo, where He would shower you with the choicest fruits of the Redemption, and an embrace of grateful affection before you breathed forth your soul into eternity. READ MORE

Why is St. Joseph the sleeping saint?

St. Joseph is sometimes portrayed sleeping. It was, after all, while sleeping that an angel enlightened him regarding the Child Mary was carrying. The image of the sleeping Joseph, therefore, touches many, especially those with troubles. Pope Francis has explained the personal significance of the image for himself, no doubt thinking of the biblical account. I have a great love for St. Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table, I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words, I tell him: “Pray for this problem!” (Apostolic Journey to the Philippines, 2015).

What is Saint Joseph known for?

We know Joseph was a man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back.

“Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God.” - Pope St. John Paul II