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The Blessed Mary and St. Joseph ... but the always Invincible Humility of the august Virgin conquered, and obliged him to give

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"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. 

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