St. Joseph had suffered, laid in him the founda- tions of the most profound humility... Why have I not kissed the earth thy steps have trod, and served thee kneeling? How shall I dare to raise my eyes in thy presence, or open my lips to speak with thee! Lord, give me grace, grant me strength to pray for pardon!
The doubts and uncertainty which St. Joseph had suffered, laid in him the founda- tions of the most profound humility, necessary for him to whom was confided the dispensation of the most holy counsels of the Lord. The re- _ membrance of what had passed served as a les- son for his future life. Having rendered thanks to the divine Majesty, the holy man began to reproach himself. ‘“‘O my divine spouse,” said he, ‘most sweet dove, chosen by the Most High to be His own mother, how hast thy unworthy servant dared to call in question thy fidelity! How could he, who is only dust and ashes, suffer her who is Queen of Heaven to serve him? Why have I not kissed the earth thy steps have trod, and served thee kneeling? How shall I dare to raise my eyes in thy presence, or open my lips to speak with thee! Lord, give me grace, grant me strength to pray for pardon! Inspire her to show me 94 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. mercy, so that she will not reject her unworthy servant as he deserves. Alas! how clearly she must have penetrated all my thoughts: how can I have the boldness to appear in her presence? I see now the grossness of my conduct, and my stupid mistake; and if Thy justice for my chas- tisement had permitted me to execute my im- prudent intention, what would not be now my wretchedness! Thanks to Thee, my God, throughout eternity, for so great a blessing, I will present myself to my Princess, my spouse, confiding in the sweetness of her clemency, and, prostrate at her feet, I will beseech her pardon, so that for her sake, Lord, Thou wilt regard me with pity, and pardon my fault.” Saint Joseph went forth from his humble chamber very unlike what he was before his re- cent slumber. Now he was happy; yet he dared not disturb our blessed Lady, who was still em- ployed in the sweets of her contemplation. While awaiting the favorable moment, the man of God with tearful eyes unbound the little packet that he had prepared—-but with senti- ments far different from those which had pre- viously occupied him. Having learned the honor due to our blessed Lady, our saint water- ed the house with his tears; he swept it and prepared other little household work, which, LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 95 while ignorant of her dignity, he had intrusted to the care of his blessed spouse. He now resolved to change his deportment towards her, by appropriating to himself the office of servant, reserving that of mistress for her majesty. Further on we shall relate the loving disputes which he had with our queen to decide which of the two should serve and take the humbler place. At the proper time the saint presented himself at the chamber of our blessed Lady, who awaited his coming with the sweetness and complacency which we shall recount in the following chapter. Let us take an example from St. Joseph, who believed, with- out delay and without doubting, that which the angel revealed to him, in such wise that he merited to be elevated to a great recompense, and to a sublime dignity. And if he abased himself with so much humility, not having com- mitted any sin in what he did, but only in having been greatly troubled under circumstances which seemed to give so much occasion for anxiety, consider how much we ought to humiliate our- selves—we who are nothing but miserable worms of the dust—by weeping over our negli- gences and our sins, so that the Most High may regard us as father and spouse.