St. Joseph’s heavenly virtues and sacrificial headship as the earthly father of God and the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated with the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Piety so he can always honor and seek to imitate St. Joseph and by growing in the Virtue of Duty so he can be the sacrificial head of his family.
After the Infancy Narratives in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1-2:40), the Blessed Virgin Mary recalls the harrowing experience of losing the 12-year old Jesus and finding Him three days later in the Temple. Responding to His parent’s anguish, Jesus confirms His love for the Father and that He, “must be in My Father’s house.” Despite knowing the identity of His true Father, Jesus lovingly submits to St. Joseph’s headship and remains obedient him for another 18 years.
God creates, prepares, and grants Joseph authority over both Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and God Himself, Jesus; both Mary and Jesus perfectly submit to Joseph’s just authority. As head of the family, Joseph was bound by Jewish law to: provide for the Most Blessed Virgin and Jesus; name and circumcise Jesus; redeem his first-born son at the Temple; lead the Holy Family in Sabbath prayer and to annual feasts in Jerusalem; teach the Torah to Jesus; teachJesus how to defend the family and swim; teach Jesus, beginning at the age of 5, a vocation (carpenter). Jesus is perfectly obedient to Joseph until the age of 30 years old, when Joseph is blessed with a most-happy death in the arms of Mary and Jesus; tradition holds, shortly thereafter, Jesus begins His public ministry.
Just as Jesus and Mary highly revered Joseph, the Church, particularly in the East, early on, venerated and cultivated a fervent devotion to Joseph. St. Joseph’s feast day was formally celebrated over a 1000 years ago. Numerous saints had special devotion to St. Joseph (St. Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avila) and St. Joseph was declared the Patron (from Latin, patris, meaning father, protector) of the Church in 1847; he is also the patron of fathers, families and the unborn. In contrast to other Saints, and like Jesus and Mary, no relics of St. Joseph exist, leading some to conclude that St. Joseph was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
While the Incarnation (to be made flesh) of the Son of God is an event which exceeds the ability of men to fully comprehend, marvel that the Son of God is also the Son of Joseph, the man created, inspired and given the highest levels of Divine Grace to become the earthly father of God.
Honor and seek to imitate St. Joseph
Realize: Of all men ever born, God the Father created and called one man, St. Joseph, to protect, form, and shepherd the Son of God into the perfection of manhood (Lk 2:52).
Believe: Reflect upon the Holy Feast Day of St. Joseph (CCC 2177) and reflect upon St. Joseph’s Patronage of the Church, fathers and families.
Pray: St. Joseph, pray for me that I grow in the Virtue of Piety so I honor you, I draw close to you, and seek to more consistently imitate you as I strive to be a better Catholic man, husband and father.
Be a sacrificial leader of your family
Realize: God the Father confirms His model for families is patriarchy (rule by fathers/men) by giving St. Joseph headship over the Immaculate Conception and His own Son (CCC 532).
Believe: Reflect upon the Headship of Husbands/Fathers (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:24, Col 3:18, 1 Pet 3:1, 1 Tim 2:11, Titus 2:4-5).
Pray: St. Joseph, pray for me that I grow in the Virtue of Duty (a part of Justice) so I accept my sacred duty to be the head of my family and I strive to imitate you as a sacrificial leader of my family.