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.
St. Joseph is the Patron of a Happy 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 Billy Atwell
In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October 17, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Ignatius of Antioch is a bishop and martyr of the Church who died in the ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
There is so much to write about in this marvelous account of the life of one of my own personal heroes, the saint whose witness led me back to the Church, Francis of Assisi. However, I will focus on one aspect of Bonaventure's tribute to Francis. He was his ... 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 Deacon F. K. Bartels
The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading
By Matt Hicks
Miraculous testimony of an elite level gymnast touched by Padre Pio: 'Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. God sends them, as He pushes us forward, ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
There is confusion over the proper title of Mother Teresa. Her name is appearing in the media as both "Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Kolkata," sometimes written with the word "Mother" and sometimes without. Which is correct? LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The saints are real and active in our lives. This is more obvious than ever following the miraculous recovery of a baby in an Irish intensive care unit. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A relic of Saint Padre Pio has been credited with a dramatic improvement in ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
In her convent of San Damiano, Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity. Her fame of sanctity and the prodigies that came about thanks to her intervention led Pope ... continue reading
By Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck
August 9 is the Memorial of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz. In this sketch, Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck, Jewish born priest and Chair of the National Pro-Life Center (Washington, DC), examines the ... 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