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Solemnity of St Joseph, Husband of Mary

St Joseph's Life of Faith

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Presence of God – In your school, O glorious St Joseph, I desire to learn how to live by faith, guided in all things by divine Providence.


The fundamental disposition of St Joseph’s soul was one of complete confidence and abandonment to God, which had its source in his faith. St. Matthew called him “a just man” (Matthew 1:19); now Sacred Scripture teaches that “the just man liveth by faith” (Rom 1:17), and it can well be affirmed that no creature, after the Blessed Virgin, has lived as much by faith as St. Joseph. In fact, having spent his whole life within the orbit of the mystery of the Incarnation, he necessarily had to pass through all the obscurities which surrounded the accomplishment of the great mystery. So Joseph needed deep faith, a faith continually nourished by suffering and tempered through anguish. The perplexity aroused in his mind by Mary’s mysterious maternity, the extreme poverty and anxieties connected with Bethlehem, the privations during the flight into Egypt, afflicted his sensitive soul to such an extent that in the most serious crises he needed the intervention of an angel, by whom he was sustained and introduced into the depths of the divine mystery unfolding before his eyes. Joseph allowed himself to be guided with the docility and blind confidence of a child. The Gospel relates four events which testify to this:

  1. An Angel put an end to his anguish by commanding him to take Mary as his Spouse, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Joseph did not hesitate a moment and did “as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Mt 1:20, 24).
  2. An Angel warned him to “take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt” (ibid. 2:13). Without delay, in the middle of the night, the Saint arose and carried out the order. Objectively the flight presented overwhelming difficulties: the great inconvenience and dangers of the journey, extreme poverty, exile in a strange land. But the Angel spoke and Joseph obeyed.
  3. After Herod’s death, an Angel ordered him to return into the land of Israel [ibid 2:19, 20].
  4. An Angel warned him to withdraw into Galilee (cf. ibid. 2:22, 23).

Here we have four acts of faith and blind obedience. Joseph neither hesitated nor reasoned; he made no objection; for he had complete trust in God; he believed in Him fully, in His Word, in His divine Providence.


O St Joseph, how much I love you! How much good it does me to think of your humble, simple life! Like us, you lived by faith. I contemplate you in the little house at Nazareth, near Jesus and Mary, busy working for them. I see you using the plane, and then wiping your forehead from time to time, and hurrying to finish the work on time for your customers. Although you lived with the Son of God, your life was very ordinary, for Jesus certainly did not perform any useless miracles. Everything in your life was just as it is in ours. And how many sorrows, fatigues, and dangers! Oh! how astonished we should be if we knew all that you suffered!” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Counsels and Souvenirs,Novissima Verba).

I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of Angels during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to you, O glorious St Joseph, for the way you helped them. For this reason, it seems to me that those who practice prayer should have a special affection for you always.

“I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to you, for I have great experience of the blessings which you obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to you and render you particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for you give very real help to souls who commend themselves to you. I have clearly seen that your help has always been greater than I could have hoped for. I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of you which you failed to grant. The Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to you on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, you could command Him), just so in Heaven He still does all that you ask” (cf. Teresa of Jesus. Life, 6).

O dear St Joseph, I place myself, then, with full confidence under your protection. Teach me to live as you did, in faith and abandonment to God; teach me to live solely for Him, by consecrating myself entirely to His service.


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art:  St Joseph and the Christ Child, Guido Reni, 1638-40, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • sky

    Today is my birthday and St. Joseph is my special patron. Thank you for writing this article. However, maybe in the future you can find a portrait of St. Joseph that does not depict him as an old man (thus not inclined to the sensual temptations of the young, or so it was always thought in centuries past.). I’d like to think that the grace of God made him a fit spouse to the Virgin Mary even though he was perhaps only 21, 22, or whatever. Why can’t we think of him this way? Why can’t we present him this way? A devout young Jewish male who knew he had a special role in God’s plan and was faithful to it.

    • LizEst

      Happy Birthday, sky! May the Lord bless you always!
      p.s. Stay tuned. We already have one in mind for the future, which we think you’ll like!

      • Rose

        The humility, courage and faithfulness of St. Joseph are attributes to inspire all men, especially fathers and husbands. That he was older than Mary in years but not well into into elderly years, as depicted in this picture, makes sense in that although he would need the maturity of a full grown man to have such faith and courage, he also would have needed to have the physical vitality and endurance to walk those many miles he had to walk beside Mary while supplying all the needs a mother and infant would have to have along the way, plus working at such a physically hard trade as carpentry, all these would need the strength of a man in his prime.
        St. Joseph is an inspiration and refuge for all men, young and old, but I think particularly for all the young fathers today that are struggling to walk the path of parenthood, struggling to find in themselves the strength and maturity needed to support their families to be courageous and faithful spouses, willing to sacrifice their own desires, willing to love his wife’s children even if they are not sprung from his genes, willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his family’s safety, stability and well being. It takes tremendous strength and courage to walk this chosen path, St. Joseph at their side and in their hearts can be a tremendous guide.

    • Cindy

      I agree. In the Mystical City of God by Venerable Mary Agreda, it was revealed in a vision by the Blessed Virgin Mary, that Joseph was 33 when he married Mary. Although Joseph was twice her age, it would seem a much younger version of Joseph would be more nice as well.

      • Joe

        Happy Birthday Sky. I celebrated my Baptism anniversary yesterday, between St Patrick’s day and my most special patron, St Joseph. St Josemaria Escriva (another favorite of mine) believed that Joseph was not much older than Mary – “You don’t have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength and joy of youth are no obstacle to a noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned of the mystery of her divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world as one more sign that he had come to share the life of his creatures.”

  • Jeanette

    Words of St.Teresa of Avila

    “Would that I could persuade all men to be devoted to St. Joseph, for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast, and I have always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good . . . I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself-then he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devoted to him . . .” -Autobiography, VI, 11-12

  • Patricia

    “I took for my advocate and lord the glorious Saint Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him; …… I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. St. Teresa of Avila

  • Camila

    Isn’t it interesting that the head of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, was truly fully man just like us (with original sin)? What a mystery. Jesus, the Incarnation, the child, obeys the Immaculate Conception, Mary. Who in turn is subject to an ordinary man. A man subject to concupiscence and all the evils of original sin.

    Such is a design of God. That we may come to trust most wholly this earthly ‘father’ and by becoming his child, may seek his intercession. And how wonderful that the Almighty Father may deign, in His eternal mercy, such a plan, that the closest in likeness to us (fallen human) may too be a father.

    Praise God!

  • Patricia

    In honor of today’ Feast Day which a Solemnity, to Honor St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of the Catholic Church and Protector of The Child Jesus, enabling Him to grow up to fulfill His Mission on Earth, I would like to thank Dan Burke, who in a way is another Protector of our Catholic Faith.
    This website, and his other writings, works, and partnerships are faithful to the Teaching Magisterium of the Church and a solid and trusted source for information that is true and reliable. In these days, there is a lot floating around that is not faithful, and people are floundering, not knowing what to believe….there are false teachers!
    I would also like to share my gratitude to all those behind the scenes that help this ministry be a reality.
    I know Dan probably does not want to be thanked because I know he does this out of his love for and gratitude to God. But I would like to say and I hope others will also let him know that this is beneficial and soul-saving-soul-satisfying work – (sometimes it saves the day for someone) and that we appreciate his wisdom, time, efforts, and love for us all. May God continue to bless you, Dan!

    • Jeanette

      Seeing as how it’s the Solemnity of St. Joseph today, I’m pretty sure Dan would not want any emphasis placed upon himself, being the humble man that he is, but I agree wholeheartedly with you Patricia!

      • You are all very kind. God is good. I am grateful to have the privilege of serving His people.

  • Sista T


  • Joanna Ionescu

    I just finished the novena to St. Joseph today. It is an ancient prayer which I discovered by chance in one of the post from New Advent. Here it is :

    O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me all spiritual blessings through thy foster Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, so that, having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer thee my thanksgiving and homage.

    O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thine arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

    St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.

    As I prayed this, I tried to picture Joseph with baby Jesus in his arms. And we know that Joseph was about 17 years old and Mary about 13. I wonder why great artists, including this Guido Reni chose to depict Joseph an old man. Is there a message which I miss?

    • ModestMouse

      The Bible doesn’t say how old was Joseph; however, Bible scholars suggested that Joseph was probably a middle-age man, he might have been married before and had other children older than Jesus.

      James, Joses, Simon, and Judas are mentioned in the Bible as brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).

      Furthermore, the fact that Jesus left His mother in the care of the apostle John (John 19:26-27) rather than with one of His brothers strongly implies that Mary had no other children and Jesus; brothers were not her biological sons but Joseph’s from a previous marriage.

      • LizEst

        In Jesus’ day, the term brother was also used for cousins and does not translate in the way we translate it. Elsewhere, in the New Testament, it was also used as a title for members of the early Christian communities and those of an authoritative status. Therefore, we cannot draw the conclusion that Joseph was previously married and had other children. These brothers seem more likely to be cousins or “brothers in Christ”, rather than step or blood brothers of Christ.

        • ModestMouse

          Not being a Greek linguist expert, I have to rely on respected scholars’ writings and could not find any evidence for the use of “brother” in the sense of “cousin.”

          This interpretation is based on the theory that the mother of James and Joseph was not the mother of Jesus but her sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas (John 19:25). Her son James is the same one called the son of Alphaeus or Cleopas (Mark 3:18). That would make the “brothers of Jesus” His cousins. But the high level of speculation in this theory is hardly evidence for the use of “brother” in the sense of “cousin” and makes this suggestion highly unlikely.

          Yes, in the New Testament the term “brother” is used sometimes as generic term for the early church members with the meaning of brother (or sister) in Christ.

          First, in Matthew 13:55 the term “brother” is not generic; Jesus’s brothers are named: James, Joses, Simon, and Judas. But the fact that Jesus is the only one specifically called a son of Mary, makes it more believable the theory that these were half brothers.

          Second, the word “brother” is used in Greek literature to refer to a stepbrother; but the term itself is not decisive enough in answering the question.

          Third, the fact that the “brothers” of Jesus tried several times to control Him suggests the possibility that they were older than Jesus. In Jewish family life the older children had authority over the younger ones.

          • LizEst

            Sorry, ModestMouse, the interpretation you reference cannot be backed up by Scripture itself. In John 19:25 it says, “Standing by the foot of the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala.” And in Matthew 27:56 it states: “Among them [at the cross] were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” So, at least two of the men mentioned in Matthew 13 are not siblings of Jesus, though they’re called adelphoi, adelphos being the Greek word for brother. Therefore, they were, in fact, Jesus’ cousins–sons of their mother’s sister. Scripture doesn’t say anything about the precise relationship between Jesus and the other men (Jude and Simon) who are mentioned in Matthew 13. What this all means is that, in fact, the Greek word for brother sometimes means other things. And, given the context, more than likely, Simon and Jude were also cousins of the Lord, perhaps not even first cousins, but possibly second cousins or third cousins. And, it’s not just siblings that try to control other siblings in a family, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and in-laws do it, too!

            Church Tradition calls St. Joseph “Most Chaste” so I’m inclined to believe that Joseph was never married before, even though one can be chaste within marriage. That God chose a sinless virgin to be the Mother of His Son leads me to believe that He also chose a man as close as possible to that (less original sin) to be Jesus’ foster-father.

  • LizEst

    St. Jerome (c 347-420), Doctor of the Church, who translated the Bible into Latin, is one of those, among many, who assures us that St. Joseph was a virgin.

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