EXHORTATION TO EXCITE SOULS TO DEVOTION TOWARDS THE GREAT ST. JOSEPH
The example of Jesus Christ Who wished to honour St. Joseph so much, and to be subject to him on earth, ought to inflame all with a fervent devotion towards this great Saint. As soon as the Eternal Father gave on earth His own place to St. Joseph, Jesus always regarded him as a father, and always respected and obeyed him for the space of thirty years. And, says St. Luke, he was subject to them. (Luke ii. 51). These words of the Evangelist mean that during all this time the sole occupation of the Redeemer was to obey Mary and Joseph. To Joseph, as the head of that little Family, belonged the office of commanding, and to Jesus, as a subject, the duty of obedience. Jesus did not take a step, perform an action, take food or rest; but in obedience to the directions of Joseph. To St. Bridget God made the following revelation: “Thus My Son was so obedient, that when Joseph would say do this or do that, He instantly did it.” And John Gerson says: “He often prepares the meat and drink, washes the vessels, carries water from the fountain, and sweeps the house.” The humility of Jesus in obeying Joseph shows that he is superior in dignity to all the Saints except the Divine Mother. Hence, a learned author has justly said “Men should pay great honour to him whom the King of kings wished to raise to such a height.” Hence, Jesus Himself recommended St. Margaret of Cortona to cherish a particular devotion to St. Joseph, because he had taken care of the Saviour during His life.
I abstain from relating here the innumerable examples of persons devoted to St. Joseph for whom he obtained great graces. They who wish for information on this subject may read the work of Father Patrignani, entitled The Devout Servant of St. Joseph. It is enough to state what St. Teresa says in the sixth chapter of her Life: “I do not remember to have asked any favour from him he did not grant. The narration of the many graces God bestowed on me, and of the dangers, corporal as well as spiritual, from which He has delivered me, through this Saint, would excite wonder. The Lord appears to have given power to the other Saints to assist us in a single necessity; but experience shows that this Saint gives aid in all. The Lord gives us to understand that, as He wished to be subject to St. Joseph on earth, so in Heaven He does whatever the Saint asks. This, others also whom I advised to recommend themselves to him, have learned by experience. I should wish to persuade all to be devoted to this Saint, because I have long experience of the great favours which he obtains from God. I have not known any soul particularly devoted to this Saint that did not always advance in virtue. For many years I have on his Festival asked a particular favour, and I have always obtained it. I ask, for God’s sake, that they who do not believe me will at least make a trial of this devotion. I cannot imagine that favours are not granted to St. Joseph in return for the helps which he gave on earth to the Mother and the Son.”
In fine, St. Bernardine of Sienna says that we ought to be persuaded that our Lord, Who respected St. Joseph on earth as His father, will refuse him nothing in Heaven; but will, on the contrary, most abundantly grant his petitions.
As we all must die, all should be devout to St. Joseph in order to obtain the grace of a good death. All the world acknowledges him as the advocate of the dying and as the Patron of a good death; and for three reasons: first, because Jesus Christ has loved him not only as a friend, but as a father, and therefore his intercession is far more powerful than that of the other Saints. John Gerson says that, with Jesus Christ, the prayers of St. Joseph have in a certain manner the force of a command. Secondly, because St. Joseph has great power against the devils who will assail us at the end of our life. In return for having saved Him from the snares of Herod, Jesus Christ has given St. Joseph the particular privilege of protecting the dying against the snares of Lucifer. Thirdly, because St. Joseph, even on account of the assistance which he received at death from Jesus and Mary, has a privilege of obtaining for his servants a sweet and holy death. Hence, if they invoke him at death, he will come to strengthen them, and will bring with him the assistance of Jesus and Mary.
Of this there are many examples, but I shall relate only the following:
Boverius relates, that, in the year 1541, Brother Alexius Vigevano, a Capuchin lay-brother, at the hour of death entreated the brethren to light certain candles. They asked why he made such a request. Because, replied Alexius, Joseph and most holy Mary will soon come to visit me. Scarcely had he said this, when he exclaimed: “Behold St. Joseph and the Queen of Heaven! My Fathers, kneel down and welcome them!” After these words he placidly expired, on the 19th of March, the day consecrated to the honour of St. Joseph.
Patrignani relates, in the work mentioned above, that in honour of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a merchant in the city of Valencia was accustomed every year to invite to dinner on Christmas Day, an old man and a woman that gave suck to her infant. The merchant appeared after death to a person who was praying for him, and said that at the hour of his passage into eternity, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph visited him and said: “During life you received us into your house in the three poor persons whom you invited: we are now come to welcome you into our house.” They then conducted him to Heaven.
Besides, in the Franciscan Legends for the 14th of February, we read that the Venerable Sister Pudentiana Zagnoni, who was greatly devoted to St. Joseph, had at death the happiness of seeing the Saint approach her bed with Jesus in his arms. She began to converse with Jesus and Joseph, thanking them for so great a favour, and breathed forth her soul in this most sweet company.
We also find in the History of the Discalced Carmelites, that, when the Venerable Sister Anne of St. Augustine of the order of St. Teresa, was on the point of death, some of the Religious saw her assisted by St. Joseph and St. Teresa, and exulting with joy; and a Religious of another monastery saw her ascending to Heaven between St. Joseph and St. Teresa.
A Religious of the Order of St. Augustine, as Father John Allosa relates, appeared after death to a companion and told him that God preserved him from hell on account of the special devotion which he had for St. Joseph: he then said that the Saint, as the reputed father of Jesus Christ, had great power with Him.