Once again, we celebrate today the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May we all be inspired to have a special devotion to him as our powerful intercessor and protector before God. This post is an excerpt from the book Saint Joseph As Seen by Mystics and Historians.
"I have been informed concerning certain other privileges conferred upon Saint Joseph by the Most High on account of his great holiness, which are especially important to those who ask his intercession in a proper manner.
In virtue of these special privileges, the intercession of Saint Joseph is most powerful; first, for attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to most holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly, for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in families.
I beseech all the faithful children of the Church to be very devout to him, and they will experience these favors in reality, if they dispose themselves as they should, in order to receive and merit them."
- Venerable Maria de Agreda
"To gain a favorable hearing with our Lord, I took Saint Joseph as advocate and protector and prayed very specially to him. His help was most strikingly shown. As a tender spiritual father and a loving protector, he quickly cured me of my sickness (while still so young, she was seriously paralysed) just as he had saved me from greater dangers of other sorts which were menacing my honor and my eternal salvation.
In his eagerness to make me happy, he has always answered my prayers far beyond my expectations. To this very day, I do not remember ever having asked him anything that he did not give me. What a picture I would have before my eyes if I could recall all the signal graces which God gave me, and all the dangers, bodily and spiritual, from which he delivered me through the intercession of this good saint. To the other saints, God gives the grace to help us in certain particular needs, but to Saint Joseph, I know by experience, He gives power to help us in all our needs.
Our Lord wants us to understand that just as He was obedient in this land of exile, recognizing in Joseph the authority of a foster-father and a master, so now He is happy to do his will in Heaven by listening to all his demands. Other persons whom I advised to pray to this incomparable protector have agreed with me: the number of his clients is growing and every day the happy effects of his mediation confirm my words.
Knowing now, by long experience, Joseph's power with God, I would like to persuade everyone to pray to him. I have seen persons with a real solid devotion to him progress steadily in virtue, for he helps in a very striking manner those who pray for help along the path of perfection.
I dare the skeptics to try praying to Saint Joseph, and they will see by experience the advantage of praying to this great Patriarch and honoring him with a special devotion."
- St. Teresa of Avila
Once, on the Feast of the Annunciation, St. Gertrude had a vision during which the Heavenly Mother revealed to her the glory of Her spouse, St. Joseph, in order to awaken in the saint a greater love for him and to encourage her to have confidence in his intercession. Of this vision, St Gertrude wrote:
"I saw Heaven opened and Saint Joseph sitting upon a magnificent throne. I felt myself wonderfully affected when, each time his name was mentioned, all the saints made a profound inclination toward him, showing by the serenity and sweetness of their looks that they rejoiced with him on account of his exalted dignity."
St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, burned with love for the Blessed Sacrament and for Mary, the Mother of Jesus, but he also inculcated into the hearts of his listeners a great confidence in the patronage of St. Joseph. He taught that the whole world acknowledges St. Joseph as the advocate of the dying, and this for three reasons; first, because being loved by Jesus not only as a friend but as a father, he possesses in Heaven a power of intercession greater than that of other saints; second, because he has special power over the demons who attack us on our deathbed, this privilege having been given him in recompense for the fact that he preserved the life of Jesus from the impious designs of Herod; and third, because of the assistance rendered him by Jesus and Mary at the hour of his death. In consequence, St. Joseph has received the privilege of obtaining for his devout clients, the inestimable grace of a holy and peaceful death in the sight of the Lord.
The Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, that God has been pleased to give some saints a special power to protect under certain peculiar necessities, and others He has endowed with gifts of various kinds; but to Saint Joseph He has been more generous - He has made him, as it were, His plenipotentiary, His treasurer-general, that he may have it in his power to assist and relieve every description of person, whatever may be his necessity.
The other saints, it is true, have great power, but only to a certain extent. They intercede and supplicate as dependants, but they do not rule as masters; whereas, St. Joseph, to whom at Nazareth Jesus and Mary had lived submissive, as being the father of One and husband to the Other, now that he dwells in the House of God, where his titles, far from being obscured, shine out with incomparable brilliancy, may doubtless obtain all he desires from the King, his Son, and the Queen, his Spouse. His influence with Both is unbounded, and as Gerson says, "he rather commands than supplicates. Hence it may be seen, how powerful is the intercession of St. Joseph!"
St. Francis de Sales assures us, that St. Joseph's purity surpassed that of the angels of the first hierarchy; for, as he says, if the material sun can perfect the dazzling whiteness of the lily in a few days, who can conceive the admirable degree of perfection to which St. Joseph's purity was raised, when it was exposed, not for a few days only, but for the space of 30 years, to the rays of the Sun of Justice and of the Mystical Moon, which derived from that Sun all Her splendor?
As the sentence of death has been pronounced on all, without exception, it follows that all and each, without exception, should endeavor to secure the interest and friendship of him who is all-powerful in procuring every assistance for his clients at that awful and decisive hour, to enable them to die happily. If a person engages in a lawsuit, on the event of which depends an immense gain or utter ruin, does he not call in the aid of some eminent lawyer, of one whose zeal for his interest he may safely depend?
Now every Christian at the hour of death, is about to hear an irrevocable sentence pronounced upon him, upon which will depend his eternal life or death, the rage and temptations of the devil at that critical moment - the remembrance of past sins - the uncertainty as to the real state of one's soul at that awful moment - the terror of the future - all combine in disputing, as it were, his claim to the Kingdom of Heaven, and in torturing his spirit with the dread apprehension of being condemned to the eternal loss of that God, Who loved him even so well as to die for him, Who alone can make him happy - to that Hell of fire where the worm dieth not, and the fire is never extinguished!
Why not, at that critical moment, call on some saint to plead his cause, and to obtain a favorable sentence for him at that awful tribunal, whence there is no appeal, should he once have the misfortune to be condemned? Who is there better qualified to perform this charitable office than Saint Joseph? He is acknowledged by all Christendom to be the special advocate of dying Christians; whence it is that congregations have been everywhere established and altars raised in his name, and that the feast of his blessed death is celebrated in many places.
St. Joseph Speaks:
"I bring to souls, the purity of my life and the obedience that crowned it.
"All fatherhood is blest in me whom the Eternal Father chose as His representative on earth, the Virgin-Father of His Own Divine Son. Through me, the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues, and will continue, to do so till the end of time. My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God's children, and together with my Virgin Spouse, I watch over them with great love and solicitude.
"Fathers must come to me to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbor. Mine was perfect obedience to the divine will, as it was shown and made known to me by the Jewish law and religion. To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world.
"Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and the deep respect I held for my Immaculate Spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellowmen, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God's people. Fatherhood is from God, and it must take, once again, its rightful place among men.
"I desire souls to come to my heart that they may learn true union with the divine will.
"God wishes me to be honored in union with Jesus and Mary to obtain peace among men and nations.
"The privilege of being chosen by God to be the Virgin-Father of His Son was mine alone, and no honor, excluding that bestowed upon my Holy Spouse, was ever or will ever be as sublime or as high as this. I desire that a day be set aside to honor my fatherhood. The Holy Trinity desires thus to honor me, that in my unique fatherhood, all fatherhood might be blessed."
- Sr. Mildred Neuzil, Our Lady of America