There is another aspect of devotion to St Joseph that is often overlooked nowadays. He is the patron of a happy death. Sensitive souls meditating on Joseph had made the happy supposition that he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary and so had the best possible death.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - St Joseph's best known virtues are surely his humility, his openness to God's plan, his ready and perfect obedience, his silence, and his loving care for Jesus and Mary. He is now revered as the patron of the universal Church, a title that was officially recognised in 1847 by Blessed Pius IX. In our preaching today we might focus on the great number of saints who have nurtured devotion to the great Patriarch of the faith, Joseph of Nazareth.
However, there is another aspect of devotion to St Joseph that is often overlooked nowadays. He is the patron of a happy death. Sensitive souls meditating on Joseph had made the happy supposition that he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary and so had the best possible death.
In the Gospels the figure of the foster father fades away after the episode of the finding of Jesus in the temple. Nevertheless, his name is still spoken of when the people - amazed by the teaching and miracles of Jesus - ask "is this not the carpenter's son?" But Joseph himself no longer appears. Tradition has it that he died having completed his vocation to act as father to the Son of God on earth.
Joseph must have left this world by the time Jesus reached maturity, as it would be difficult to explain his absence when Jesus began his ministry or why he was not there at the foot of the cross on Calvary. His death came while he was enveloped in the love of those two most perfect hearts: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We see how he can be considered the patron of a happy death. For Christians, no better death is imaginable than one at which Jesus and Mary are present. Their great love accompanied Joseph in the last and most difficult part of this life. Of course in past times (and even today) it was considered desirable to die at home in one's own bed. More than that, our faith makes us long for the consoling love of Jesus and Mary when we die. This thought prompted the prayer to St Joseph asking for the grace to die in circumstances similar to his.
In recent decades the idea of death has been virtually taboo in our culture. This even affects our liturgical theology and our preaching. Death is a theme which has been banished from religious publications and sermons. Yet we continue to die! Death is a problem that has been ignored, not solved.
It's only an illusion (an ideological one, perhaps, but certainly naive and unrealistic) that tries to keep death away from our thoughts and words. It's this ideology that has downplayed the patronage of St Joseph for a happy death. And paradoxically, the ideology of euthanasia has developed, presenting itself as the new 'happy' death.
However in our modern culture, where violence, sudden death and widespread insecurity still exist, there also remains more deeply the need and desire to be loved forever, to never die and to not be left alone.
Even today - perhaps especially today - it is necessary to reflect, to preach, and to invoke the protection of St Joseph. We should pray through his intercession that God would grant us the grace, after a life worthy of the Gospel, to enter into the light accompanied by Jesus and Mary, our own loved ones, and that same carpenter of Nazareth who obtains for us these heavenly favours.
This is the real 'happy death', and the only one which introduces us to infinite horizons and to that embrace with God which we call paradise! (Cf. Spe Salvi, 12)
2S 7,4-5a.12-14a.16: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abuq4g.htm
Rm 4,13.16-18.22: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9aufdqd.htm
Mt 1,16.18-21.24: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9a10sxa.htm
By Jennifer Hartline
St. Therese helps me understand: "the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the ... continue reading
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker
I was an Anglican priest the summer I met St Therese of Lisieux. I was living in England and had three months free between jobs, so I decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I was going to hitch hike and stay in monasteries and religious houses on the way. ... continue reading
By F. K. Bartels
The Little Flower of Jesus sacrificed her life for love of souls. She saw the magnitude of her Beloved's love for them. She offered herself for the building up of the Church, the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ. That is truly a ... continue reading
By Youngsun Jun
Though I am not strong enough to hold the suffering souls in my arms and carry them home, I can do one thing: I can pray for the deliverance of the souls who are in the darkness. I can request help from the angels for them. I can make a 911 call for them. So again, I ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Saint Junipero Serra, pray for us! Saint Junipero Serra, your missionary zeal brought the light of Christ to millions. You endured so many hardships, and labored so much that your work resonates today in the hearts of hundreds of millions of Catholics. Saint Serra, I ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
Over the centuries, the Jesuits have been relied upon by Popes as trustworthy, heroic soldiers for Jesus Christ and His Church. Yes, there have been times when the company seemed to lose its fervor. However, Jesus Christ the King has always sent His Spirit to ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
On July 15th in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we commemorate the life, holiness, work and death of a great Bishop and Doctor named Bonaventure. He was born in 1218, became a Franciscan Friar in 1243, and died in 1274. A friend ... continue reading
By Justin Soutar
During his visit to the United States this coming September, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' Once that happens, the Golden State will have its own patron saint and the Church will have another great missionary role ... continue reading
By Alex Basile
Every carpenter must practice patience. We can learn important lessons from the wood shop in Nazareth from the humble Saint Joseph. I have always been a "do it yourself" type of guy thanks to my father. My dad is always a steady presence during my home-improvement ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
This great defender of the faith insisted on the central claim of Christianity: God can be known and loved-indeed, that is why He came into our midst in the person of His Son; so that through a relationship with Jesus Christ, man could participate in the ... continue reading