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St. Francis de Sale: ON THE VIRTUES OF ST. JOSEPH

https://archive.org/stream/spiritualconfere00franuoft/spiritualconfere00franuoft_djvu.txt

ON THE VIRTUES OF ST. JOSEPH (i) 

The just shall flourish like the palm-tree* Thus does 
Holy Church make us sing on every feast-day of 
her saintly Confessors; but as the palm-tree has a 
great variety of special properties beyond all other 
trees — of which, indeed, it is the prince and king, as 
much on account of its beauty as of the excellence 
of its fruit — so there are also many varieties of 
justice. Although all the just may be just and 
equal in justice, nevertheless there is a great dis- 
proportion between the individual acts of their 
justice. This is figured by the robe of the Patri- 
arch Joseph, which descended to his feet, and was 
embroidered with a rich variety of flowers.t Every 
just man has the robe of justice which descends to 
his feet ; J that is to say, all the faculties and 
powers of his soul are covered with justice, and its 
interior and exterior represent justice itself, being 
just in all their impulses and in all their actions, 
internal as well as external. Yet, nevertheless, we 
must admit that each robe is embroidered with 
different beautiful varieties of flowers, the diversity 

(i) Sermon 'preached by our Blessed Father on the Feast of St. Joseph, 

* Ps. xci. 13. f Gen. xxxvii. 3; xli. 42. 

X Isa. lxi. 10 ; Bar. v. 2. 
364 



The Virtues of St. Joseph 365 

of which does not make them less pleasing or less 
worthy of admiration and commendation. The 
great St. Paul, the first hermit, was just with a 
most perfect justice, and yet it is undoubted that 
he never exercised so much charity towards the 
poor as St. John, who was called the Almoner on 
that account; nor had he ever any opportunities of 
practising hospitality, and therefore he did not pos- 
sess that virtue in so high a degree as did many 
other saints. He had all the virtues, but not all 
of them in an equally high degree. Some of the 
saints excelled in one virtue, some in another, and 
although all have saved their souls, they have done 
so in very different ways, there being as many 
different kinds of sanctity as there are saints. 

This being presupposed, I will introduce my 
subject by observing that the palm-tree, among a 
great number of peculiar properties, has three 
special ones, which also belong in a remarkable 
manner to the Saint whose Feast we are keeping ; 
that Saint of whom Holy Church bids us say that 
he is like to the palm-tree. Oh, what a great saint ' 
is the glorious St. Joseph ! He is not only a Patri- 
arch, but the chief and leader of Patriarchs ; he is 
not simply a Confessor, but more than a Confessor, 
for in him are enshrined the worth of Bishops, the 
generosity of Martyrs, and of all the other saints. 
It is, therefore, with reason that he is compared to 
the palm, which is the king of trees, and which has 
the properties of virginity, humility, courage and 
constancy, in all which virtues the glorious St. 
Joseph excelled so greatly. If we may venture to 
make comparisons, many would maintain that he 

 

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