Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Matthew 1:19-24
I was pondering the state of the world today, thinking about how we had gotten to where we are. As I prayed and sat in the chapel, I thought about all the rage I see in society. I thought how it seems to be coming from every direction. God whispered, “I made them male and female.” I thought about recent events. How men seem to have used women, and how women march in the streets in anger at men.
“Lord,” I said, “why does it have to be this way?” He whispered, “it doesn’t.” I looked up at the altar at that moment and to the right I saw a statue of Saint Joseph. I realized, I don’t often ask for his intercession when I pray for myself or my family. Though I do ask for it for a Priest I pray for. Perhaps it’s because as a female, I relate to Mother Mary and to the female Saints, I wasn’t sure why. I asked God to tell me about Saint Joseph.
As I sat contemplating, a thought poured over me. We all know Jesus came and was the “new Adam.” It was through our King, Our Lord and Savior, that these chains of sin were broken on the Cross. O happy Fault, the sin of Adam, that gave to us a Redeemer.
But God asked me to look closer at what it took for Jesus to get here. It took the Fiat of Mary, which made her a true Queen. But it took something else too, it took a Fiat of Joseph. Things would have been vastly different if Joseph had not said yes and trusted God as well.
A little while back I wrote about how men are the Guardians of the Divine Life. It was Adam who named the animals and revealed God spiritually in the world. His job in the garden was to protect it and to protect Eve and guard the Divine. We see the male Priesthood reveal this as well.
And so it is here, when a righteous man wakes up from a dream, we actually see JOSEPH doing something Adam didn’t. His yes, protected Mary from evil and guarded the Divine Life in her. Joseph becomes the example of what a human man should be. A protector from evil and a guardian of Divine Life. Because he was born with original sin, this yes of his was most definitely courageous. Though as noted in the verse above, he was righteous, and so we can glean that God chose him because of this. It is the Foster Father, Joseph who is the head of the Holy Family, and who by taking Mary into his home, together with her, helps to bring us our Redeemer. They are BOTH needed, male and female, working together to bring us our Redeemer; in perfect acts of submission to the will of God, and in fulfillment of the roles God created for them.
God had originally brought forth creation and we lived in harmony with His Kingdom. His Kingdom was lived on earth as it is in heaven through a married couple. Adam with the authority to name the creatures of the Kingdom, and Eve, from whom human life would come forth. It is as if God’s creation was itself a Tabernacle, housing His Divine Will where His creation lived in harmony with it and Adam, who was given Dominion, was the Guardian of this. After the fall, God had to send His Son, as the means for us to gain back the harmony with His Will that we had lost. God didn’t ever leave us, but there was a disruption of the unity. So it is by the merits and grace of Christ, we can be restored. But it goes beyond that, because His merits and His Grace, when applied to Mary and Joseph, what we see again is God using the married couple to help restore the unity of Kingdom by working together in harmony to usher in the Redeemer. Joseph was the Guardian of the Living Tabernacle, Mary, through whom God in us can be restored.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5
This is why the family, the Domestic Church, is so important. It is where we can begin to see the Kingdom of God at hand. Rebuilding the family rebuilds the community, which rebuilds the nation, which rebuilds the world. One heart at a time. Mary is Co-Redemptrix and Joseph is a co-redeemer. We can actually all participate in this. We follow their example, we sacrifice, we suffer, through the cross we become detached from the worldly and we move back towards unity with God.
And so, Saint Joseph is the terror of demons. It isn’t just Mary who steps on the head of the serpent, he does also. Mary and Joseph took back domain from Satan that had been stolen in the garden, and ushered in a Savior, who would truly crush evil. Jesus was the Savior of them both, but it does reveal the Mighty power of God and how he applied the merits of the Redemption. Two human souls working together in the complementary way they were made, to bring about the Redemption of all of us, through the Son of God placed in their midst.
It is said that the only Man made thing in heaven are the wounds of Jesus Christ. It is there that we can pour our sin and un-forgiveness for the offenses others have committed against us, and be set free from the evil man has chosen. Imagine, for a second, the embarrassment Joseph must have felt for Mary’s pregnancy. He knew she could be killed for it. In his compassion, he was going to divorce her quietly. But he listened to the angel in the dream, and despite what must have been the whisperings and gossip of others, the calumny against him, he did what God asked. It required forgiveness of others, and righteousness. If we can love God like him, if we can forgive the trespasses against us, we can regain our dominion from Satan, and following the way of the Cross we can live in a world of love where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We will see Oceans of mercy pour forth over us from those man made wounds of Christ, when we live like this.
Instead of using and marching against one another, let us learn to love and sacrifice for one another, like Mary and Joseph.
St Joseph, terror of demons. Pray for us.
I saw this is my prayer after writing this;