The Blessed Mary and St. Joseph ... but the always Invincible Humility of the august Virgin conquered, and obliged him to give
"The admirable life of the glorious patriarch Saint Joseph : taken from the cité mystique de Dieu (The mystical city of God)"
LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 91 Lord sent the archangel Gabriel, to disclose, by a divine revelation to St. Joseph while he slept, the mystery which was to bé accomplished in his spouse. The archangel acquitted himself of this embassy, appeared in a dream, as related by St. Matthew, and declared to him, in the terms quoted by that evangelist, the whole mystery of the incarnation and redemption. There are various reasons why the archangel spoke to St. Joseph in a dream, and not in his waking hours, although the mystery had been manifested to others when awake. In the first place, St. Joseph was so prudent and so filled with esteem for the blessed Virgin, that stronger proofs were unnecessary to convince him of the dignity of Mary, and of the mystery of the in- carnation; for the divine inspiration penetrates easily into well-disposed hearts. In the second place, his trouble had begun with his senses, and it was but just that they should be morti- fied and deprived of the angelic vision, since they had permitted the entrance of illusions and “suspicions; therefore the truth ought not to en- ter by their means, The third reason is, that although St. Joseph committed no sin in these circumstances, yet his senses had undoubtedly contracted a species of stain, and it was not pro- per that the angel should fulfil his embassy at a 92 _ LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. time when these senses, which had been scandal- ized, were interdicted by the suspension of their operations. Besides these, there was the reason which should overrule all others, that such was the will of the Lord, who is just and holy, and perfect in all His works. St. Joseph saw not the angel through any im- age or form—he heard only the internal voice, and understood the mystery. He heard what St. Gabriel said, “ that he should not fear to re- main with Mary his wife, because her condition was the work of the Holy Ghost. That she should bring forth a son, whom he should call Jesus; that He should deliver His people from their sins; and that in this mystery would be accomplished the prophecy of Isaiah —‘A Virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, who shall be called Emmanuel, which means, God with us.’” We perceive from the words of the celestial ambassador, that the saint had separated from the pure Mary in intention, since he was commanded to receive her without fear. ! : St. Joseph awoke, informed of the mystery which had been revealed to him, and instructed that his spouse was the Mother of God. He found himself divided between the joy of his happiness, and his unhoped for dignity, and sor LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 93 row for what he had been about todo. He pros- trated himself instantly on the ground, and made, with humble fear and inconceivable con- tentment, heroic acts of humility and gratitude. He gave thanks to God for the mystery which had been disclosed to him, and for having made him the spouse of her whom He had chosen to be His mother—him, who did not deserve to be her servant. 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. 96 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. CHAPTER. ¥V. ST. JOSEPH ASKS PARDON OF TIE HOLY MARY IIIS SPOUSE— NE RESOLVES TO SERVE HER IN ALL THINGS WITU PRO- FOUND RESPECT, T. JOSEPH, after the discovery of his error, waited until our blessed Lady should come forth from her retreat. As soon as he thought it was time, he opened the door of the little chamber occupied by the mother of the heav- enly King, and, throwing himself at her feet, he exclaimed, with humility and profound venera- tion, ‘ My spouse, Mother of the Eternal Word, behold your servant prostrate before you. By the same Lord whom you bear in your most chaste bosom, I pray you to pardon my presumption. Sure I am that none of my thoughts can be hidden from your wisdom, nor from the divine light which you have received. Great was my blindness to think of deserting you; but you know that I did it in ignorance, because neither the secret of the great King had been revealed LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 97 to me, nor the greatness of your dignity. Forget, I entreat you, the many deficiencies of a vile creature who offers his heart and his life in your service ; I will not rise from your feet until you have pardoned my folly—until I shall have re- ceived your forgiveness and your benediction.” The august Mary listened with mingled feel- ings to the humble words of her spouse. She rejoiced in the Lord to learn that St. Joseph was informed of the mysteries of the incarnation, and that he revered them with such profound faith and humility. But she was troubled by the resolution he had taken to change his con- duct towards her, and with the respect and sub- mission with which he addressed her. Knowing ‘how much she ought to esteem humility, she was disturbed by the apprehension that St. Joseph, recognizing in her the mother of the Lord, would deport himself in all things as her inferior. Insisting that he should rise, she pros- trated herself at his feet, although he made every effort to hinder this, but it was not pos- sible; for in humility she was invincible. Then she said to the saint: “It is I, my spouse, who 7ought to beseech your pardon for the pain and sorrow that you have had to endure on my account, therefore I beg you will forget them.” Our blessed Lady, for the consolation of her 9 98 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. LP nasband, continued: “I could not reveal to you tne hidden mystery which the Most High had enclosed within me, because it was my duty to await the expression of the will of the Lord. Thus my silence should not be considered as arising from any want of esteem for you, for in all things I regard you as my master and my husband. I am, and I always shall be, your faith- ful servant; but do not make any change in the demeanor which you have always preserved towards me. The Lord has not elevated me to the dignity of being His own mother to be served, but to be the servant of all, and of you especially. This is my office: it is but just that you should leave it to me, since the Most High has so ordained in giving me your protec- tion. St. Joseph, by these reasons and many others which were of a sweet efficacy, found his spirit enlightened in a singular manner. He received, through this purest of creatures, extraordinary divine influences, and, entirely renewed in heart, he replied: “You are blessed among women; you are blessed among all nations. May the creator of heaven and earth be glorified by eternal praises, for that He has chosen you for His dwelling. In you alone He has accomplished the promises that He made to our fathers and to LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. V9 the prophets. Let all generations bless Him that He has not exalted himself in any creature as in you, and that, being the vilest of men, He has chosen me to be your servant.” The saint was en- lightened by the divine Spirit after the manner of St. Elizabeth; but the light and knowledge which St. Joseph received were, in a certain sense, more admirable, because of his dignity and ministry. The august Mary replied by the Magnificat and other new canticles; and while chanting them, inflamed by the divine fire, she was rapt in a sublime ecstasy, and, lifted up from the earth in a globe of brilliant light which en- circled her, she was transformed as in a glory. St. Joseph was filled with admiration and Joy inconceivable at this view of his holy spousr for he had never yet seen her surrounded with such glory and excellence. She appeared to him quite transparent, and, at the same time, he discovered the integrity and virginal purity of our queen and the mystery of her dignity. He saw, also, and recognized in the chaste bosom of Mary the holy humanity of the Infant God and the union of the two natures in the person of the Word. He adored the Infant God with profound humility, acknowledged his true Re- deemer, and offered himself to His service with fervent acts of divine love. 100 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. The Lord regarded him with great favor, and distinguished him among all men, for He ac- cepted him as His reputed father and gave him the title. And to render him conformable to this new and honorable name, He imparted to him all the knowledge and divine gifts to which Christian purity can or ought to aspire. If it were a proof of the magnanimity of the glorious St. Joseph that he did not die of jeal- ousy, it is also a subject of admiraticn that he was not overwhelmed by the joy which he felt on this occasion. In the first case his holiness appears, but ‘in the second he received such augmentations of graces and gifts from the Lord, that, if His divine Majesty had not dilated his heart, he could not have been able to receive them. He was entirely renewed and enlightened so as to converse worthily with her who was the Mother of God, and, conjointly with her, to dis- pense all that concerned the incarnation and the charge of the Word made man. It was also . manifested to him, in order that he should recog- nize the obligation imposed on him to serve his holy spouse, that all the gifts he had received from the Most High were received through her — and for her. He knew that the gifts he had re- ceived before his espousals were bestowed because the Lord had chosen him for this office, and that LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 101 those which he now received were because she had merited them for him. And as our blessed Lady had been the instrument by which the Lord had wrought the sanctification of John the | Baptist, and his mother, St. Elizabeth, she was | the organ, also, by whom St. Joseph received the plenitude of grace. This most happy spouse knew all this, and he responded to it like a faith- ful and grateful servant. The holy evangelists made no mention of these ereat mysteries, nor of many others which were known to our blessed Lady and St. Joseph, be- cause, for many reasons, they were not suitable to be made known to the Gentiles on their first conversion. These things were reserved, by the impenetrable judgments of Providence, for times which the divine wisdom judged more suitable,* or when the Church should have need of the intercession and support of our holy Queen. The faithful St. Joseph, after having been made aware of the dignity of his spouse, and the mystery of the incarnation, conceived so lofty an esteem for her, that, although he had been al- ways pure and perfect in his life, he now became as a new man. He resolved henceforth to change his conduct, and to redouble his ven- * Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now.”—St. John, xvi. 12. Q* 102 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. eration towards our blessed Lady. This was in comformity with the wisdom of the saint, and due to the excellence of his spouse, for he was servant, and she mistress of the universe. St Joseph knew all this by divine illumination. Now, to satisfy the desire he had to honor het in whom he recognized the Mother of God, when he spoke to her, or passed before her, if alone together, he bent the knee. He would not suffer her to wait on him, nor that she should occupy herself in other humble offices, such as sweeping the house, cleansing the vessels, and many other things which he thought derogatory from the dignity of our queen. But our saintly Lady, who was the humblest of the humble, and whose humility was not to be overcome, prayed St. Joseph not to pay her such honors as to bow the knee to her. This veneration, she said, was doubtless due to the Lord, whom she bore in her bosom; but while He remained there, the person of Christ could not be distinguished from her own. The saint, yielding to her humble desires, rendered this worship to the Lord, who was in the bosom of Mary, and to her as His mother, only when un- perceived by her. They had also humble disputes respecting! their servile employments. St. Joseph could LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 103 not consent to allow our amiable Mistress to perform them, and strove to prevent it On her part, she did what she could, but waile she was retired in her oratory the saint found time to do many things, and thus our sweet Lady was frus- trated in her desires to be the servant. At these times she addressed her meek complaints to the Lord, and prayed him to oblige her spouse not to hinder her in the exercise of humility. This virtue is so agreeable at the tribunal of God, that we ask for no common grace whea we pray for it; for humility imparts a cer tain greatness to all things, and inclines God to clemency. The Divine Majesty hearkened to the request of our blessed Lady, and his guar- dian angel said, interiorly, to the blessed St Joseph, “ Do not frustrate the humble desires of © her who is above all creatures in heaven or on earth. Permit her to serve you in external things, and preserve for her in your interior the greatest reverence. Render to the Word made man, in all times and in all places, the homage that is due to Him. You can, meanwhile, assist his Mother, and honor ee the Lord of the universe who is within her.” Having received these orders from ‘the Most High, St. Joseph no longer refused her humble exercises to our sweet Lady. Thus both offered 104 LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. to God the sacrifice of their will. The most pure Mary, in practising her profound humility, and faithful obedience to her spouse; and St. Joseph, by obedience to the Most High, with a holy confusion to see himself served by her whom he recognized as mistress of the universe and mother of the Creator, Thus our saint was compensated for the hu- mility which he could not exervise; for to see himself served as he was humiliated him far more, and obliged him to abase himself still more profoundly in contempt of himself. In these dispositions St. Joseph meditated upon the Lord, whom the august Mary bore in her chaste bosom, adoring and rendering to Him honor and glory. Then, in recompense for his sanctity . and his respect, mingled with fear, the Infant God, made man, sometimes manifested himself - in an admirable manner. He saw Him in the bosom of His most pure Mother, as through a luminous crystal. Afterwards, our incomparable Lady conversed more familiarly with her blessed spouse upon the mysteries of the incarnation, for she knew that he was now informed of the secrets of the hypostatic union of the two natures, divine and human, within her virginal bosom. No tongue can relate the celestial discourses that were held between the blessed Virgin and LIFE OF ST. JOSEPH. 105 St. Joseph.- And who can describe the effects produced on the gentle and pious heart of this holy man, on finding himself the spouse of her who was the veritable motber of his Creator, and to see her performing for him the duties of a simple servant ? If the Almighty enriched the house and the person of Obed-Edom with such plenteous bene- dictions for having received the ark of the Old Testament, what benedictions would He not bestow upon St. Joseph, to whom He had eon- fided the true ark, and the Legislator himself who was enclosed within it? The happiness and the fidelity of this saint were incomparable, not only because the living Ark of the New Testament abode in his house, but because he guarded it like a faithful and prudent servant. The Lord placed him over His family, also, that he should provide for it according to its necessities as a faithful admin- istrator. Let all nations acknowledge him, bless him, and publish his praises, since the Most High has never done for any other what He has done for this incomparable saint. In view of mysteries so august, I will glorify this adorable Lord, and confess Him as holy, just, merciful, wise and admirable in all His won. drous works.