by Rev. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900

Gospel. Matt. i. 18-21. When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her: was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost; and she shall bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

St. Joseph is called the foster-father of Jesus, the pure spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, titles which we confer on him, and which carry with them great and important privileges. He alone was found worthy to protect the Mother of Christ, the Daughter of the Father, and to his loving reverence was entrusted the Redeemer of the world. From His birth, Jesus depended on him for the necessities of life, and with what watchfulness and tenderness did he not fill his exalted position! To him Mary most pure, and Jesus, spotless Lamb, gave obedience and respect. He was head of that most holy family on earth, and is now the model for all fathers in all ages. With what virtues was not his soul adorned, since he was found worthy of being clothed with such dignity! Humility, purity, patience, fortitude, longanimity, sweetness of character, and a whole line of virtues must have been found in him in an eminent degree.

When God, my dear young friends, raises some one to a great dignity, He does not look at a man's birth, his riches, his honor or his fame. He regards the soul, the virtues which the man practices and the love with which he is filled. It is true that St. Joseph was of noble birth, for he was of the royal house of David; but he was far removed and was poor, and had to gain his livelihood by working as a carpenter. While he was poor in this world's goods he was rich in merit, and dear to God for his sanctity and love; therefore he was richly blessed with the greatest graces.

If you are poor and of little account before the world, yet love Our Lord with great affection, you also will be dear to Him and He will enrich you with His gifts and His graces. Love Our Lord, therefore, with all your heart as did St. Joseph. Though St. Joseph was dear to Our Lord, still He wished Joseph to feel the trials and afflictions of life. But he also had great consolation. The night Our Lord was born in the stable at Bethlehem Joseph's heart was full of heavenly joy. Another great happiness was the visit of the three kings from the East, who offered to the new-born Babe their precious gifts.

When Joseph arrived at Bethlehem with Mary, and found that after wandering from door to door there was no room for them, he felt sorely afflicted, for he felt that he had to look after the comfort of Our Lord. Disappointed and fatigued, he had to take refuge in a stable, in order to provide shelter for the divine Babe. Great also was his sorrow when he heard the aged Simeon prophesy that the Child would be a sign which should be contradicted, and a sword of sorrow should pierce the heart of Mary, the tender Mother. What dreadful misgivings must he not have felt, when in a dream he received the command of the angel to take the Child and His Mother, and set out for Egypt, an unknown country, where he was to remain until he was again notified; and this in order that he might withdraw Our Lord from the persecution of Herod. I think I can see him, rising quickly from his couch, and telling Mary to prepare for the journey. In Egypt he had great difficulty to find employment, by which he might furnish the necessaries of life to the dear ones whom he had in charge. Nor was his anguish less when he was ordered back to Nazareth, there to open the workshop which had been closed so long. What sorrow must he have felt when for the first time he put the plane and hammer into Our Lord's hands. "O, my Son," Joseph must have said, "am I such a father to you that I cannot provide what is necessary for your sustenance; but that you, too, my God, must work!" But his sorrow must have been much alleviated when he saw with what happiness and cheerfulness Our Lord served him. Hence, while great were his afflictions, great also were his consolations in that life of union with Our Lord.

God acts in this way with His saints; He does not always console them, nor does He always afflict them; He distributes these visitations according to the need of the holy soul. He does the same to us, my dear young people. He sends you great consolation to animate you in the practice of virtue, and He will send you hours of consolation, until you cry, "Enough, O Lord, my happiness is too great." He will send you also sufferings, poverty, dishonor and sickness to purify you and make you worthy of Him, and with it all you shall still have peace of mind, the peace of God which is beyond all knowledge.

The greatest consolation that Joseph had was at his death, at which Jesus and Mary were present. He saw the hour approach when he was to leave the tender objects of his love; his eyes followed them with affection as they moved about the room ready to minister to him. What holy words must have been spoken to him by Jesus and Mary! They assisted him in his agony and gave him all possible human relief! The death of St. Joseph was therefore most consoling, for he truly died in the embrace of Our Lord.

Now, my dear young friends, you can set before your minds what reward was granted to him, whose greatest privilege it was to be the foster-father of Our Lord and the protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He enjoys in heaven all the glory of which a human being is capable, near the throne of his foster-Son. What demand will ever be denied St. Joseph? His prayers are commands to God. St. Teresa says, "I do not know that I have ever asked anything of St. Joseph that was not granted." Let us all become his devout clients and we also will experience his protection. Our Lord said in a revelation to Margaret of Cortona, "Every day make a tribute of praise to the Blessed Virgin and to my foster-father, St. Joseph."

Yes, my dear young people, if you are really devout in your pious exercises to St. Joseph, he will obtain for you special graces at the hour of your death. He will ask Jesus and Mary to be present, and will suggest to your heart the sweet names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and you, too, will die a happy death, in the embrace of Our Lord.

Rev. Leonard Goffine, 1871

St. Joseph who, was of the royal blood of David, was a carpenter in Nazareth of Galilee, where he was espoused to the blessed Virgin Mary. His greatest praise is this, that the gospel calls him a just man, that he was chosen by God from all men of his time to be the fosterfather of His Son, and that Jesus until His thirtieth year was subject to him. The history of his childhood and youth, has not been preserved, and of it, as of the rest of his life, we know only that which is related by the evangelists. As we do not read, that he was present at the marriage in Cana, it is supposed, that before the commencement of Christ's ministry he died a happy death in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

The Introit of the Mass reads: The just shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus, planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy praise, O Most High! (Ps. xli.) Glory, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be assisted by the merits of the spouse of Thy most Holy Virgin Mother, and that what we cannot obtain through our own weakness, may be granted us by his prayers. Who etc.

LESSON. (Ecel. xlv. 1 - 6.) This saint was beloved of God and men: whose memory is in benediction. He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies. And with his words he made prodigies to cease. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and shewed him his glory. He sanctified him in his faith and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. For he heard him and his voice, and brought him into a cloud. And he gave him commandments before his face, and a law of life and instruction.

APPLICATION. What is here said of Moses, may be justly applied to St. Joseph, for which reason the Church chooses this lesson for his festival day. That St. Joseph was beloved of God, is shown by his being chosen the fosterfather of the Son of God, Jesus Christ; his memory is in benediction, and how could his memory but be blessed, who was the fosterfather of Him who from the commencement of the world, as its Creator, blessed all creatures, and who, by His death, as Redeemer, procured blessings and graces for us who, on account of our sins, deserved the curse of God? God has placed St. Joseph with the saints, and glorified him before all kings, for he was not only of royal blood, but he was fosterfather to the King of kings. His humility, his purity, and his faithful love of Mary enabled him to hear for thirty years the tender voice of Jesus; God has also brought him into a cloud, that is, taken him up to heaven, where he now sees Him face to face, and is a most powerful intercessor for man.

GOSPEL. (Matt. i. 18 - 21.) When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins.

Why was the blessed Virgin espoused to St. Joseph?

St. Jerome gives these answers to this question: that by Josoph's descent from David the descent of Mary and Jesus might be proved, for in the Old Law a woman was not permitted, to marry out of her own tribe, when there were no male heirs; that Mary might not be stoned as she would have been, if found unmarried with child; that Christ should not be regarded as an illegitimate child and be, therefore; abused and repudiated; and that, as St. Ignatius, the Martyr, says, the birth of Christ thus might remain concealed from the devil who believed, that Christ was not to be born from a virgin but from a wife; finally, that Mary might have consolation and assistance, as at the time of the flight with Jesus into Egypt.

Why did St. Joseph wish to leave Mary privately?

Because he was not instructed concerning the divine mysteries, and could not from her pure, blameless life understand Mary's condition, and was too full of love to think or assert evil of her, or put her to shame.

Why did Mary not reveal these mysteries to him?

Because of the humility which she loved so much, that she would rather suffer evil suspicions than reveal the great grace which God had shown her, besides which she also trusted, that God Himself would care for her and make her innocence manifest.


"The example of Christ," as St. Alphonsus of Ligouri writes, "who so highly venerated St. Joseph while on earth, and who was during His whole life obedient to him, should suffice to inspire all hearts with devotion to this great saint;" and he whom the King of kings placed so high, indeed deserves especial veneration from man. To encourage this veneration, St. Theresa wrote: "I do not remember, that I ever prayed to St. Joseph for anything which he did not procure for me; the great graces God has given me through him, and the many dangers of body and soul from which he has preserved me, are indeed truly wonderful. It seems as if God has given to other saints the grace to assist in some special manner those who seek their intercession; but of this glorious saint my experience is, that he assists in every need. The Lord appears to show by this, that as He was subject to him on earth, so in heaven He does every thing which St. Joseph requests of Him. Others, whom I have advised to have recourse to him, have experienced the same thing. I would gladly so advise every one."

I have a great devotion to this saint," continues St. Alphonsus, "because I have so often experienced, that he can obtain so much from God. For many years I have been accustomed to ask a special grace on his festival, and my prayer is always answered. As we must all die, we should all have a special devotion to St. Joseph, for all Catholics consider him as the patron of the dying, who assists, in the hour of death, those who have venerated him, and this for three reason: because Jesus loves him, not only as a friend, but as His father, on which account he is a more powerful intercessor than any other saint; because St. Joseph has a special power against evil spirits who attack us in the hour of death; for since he freed our Saviour from the snares of Herod, God has given him the power to guard the dying from the attacks of the devil; lastly the assistance which Jesus and Mary rendered him in the hour of his death, gives him the right to procure a sweet and holy death for his servants. If they, therefore, invoke him in the hour of death, he will not only aid them himself, but procure aid for them from Jesus and Mary." Should not these words of so great a saint encourage thee daily to honor St. Joseph? Should not this hope of being assisted in the hour of death by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, move thee to devotion to the fosterfather of Christ?

PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH. O St. Joseph, Mary's pure bridegroom, who because of thy purity and love of justice wast chosen for the fosterfaster of Jesus Christ, do not leave me, I beseech thee, in my necessities and cares; ask for me the grace to live a just and pure life like thine, and grant, that I may obtain the happiness of dying, like thee, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Amen.