Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The World's Second Love

(With apologies to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)

In 1952 Archbishop Sheen wrote a book about Mary called The World's First Love. He talks about how God had in mind, from before time, the perfect mother for the Son of God. In it he also devoted a chapter to San Giuseppe. & how God ensured that he would be the perfect spouse for Mary. That is why I have entitled this The World's Second Love. If Mary was first than to say San Giuseppe is the second is only logical.
St Lawrence of Brindisi in his writings on what he called The Incarnational Circle mentions Mary as being planned as the virginal mother. That meant there was also the need for a virginal father. That father was San Giuseppe. While I haven't read the work in its entirety, what little I know, as well as what I have read by Archbishop Sheen, Gerson, Suarez & others have been the inspiration for this reflection.
Mary was planned from before time by God as the perfect or ideal mother for His Son. So, here having the perfect or ideal spouse for her & earthly father for Jesus was also a part of that plan.
Since Mary was to be the biological mother of Christ, than her being immaculately conceived was only logical. All the other gifts she was given to enable her to fulfill that role & the Church extols are only logical. Joseph, on the other hand, was not the biological father, but that is the only sense in which he was not the father of Jesus. So that means that he had to be equipped with all the gifts & attributes to ensure he would be the ideal father of Jesus as well as the ideal spouse of Mary.
Additionally, by the angel telling Joseph to name Jesus, we see God giving Joseph a unique gift, a portion of His Divine Fatherhood. Joseph was able to exercise all the rights over Jesus as a father that His Heavenly Father would. Jesus had to submit to Joseph's authority as that of His Heavenly Father.
I am not saying that Joseph was immaculately conceived. That has never been taught. But what has been widely suggested, & I agree with, is that, like St. John the Baptist, he was freed from original sin in the womb. Also, like the Baptist, he was graced to be able to avoid sinning throughout his life as well.
All this was done, like Mary's conception, because of what Jesus did on the cross, not through any merits of their own. Mary & Joseph both had free will, they were both tempted & both rejected sin. I won't go into more about Mary as there is plenty out there about why this is true.
In Joseph's case I will point out that Scripture itself strongly hints at this by his being called a righteous or just man. (Matthew 1:19) That term is almost never used to describe a human. Instead we here Scripture talk about how humans usually fail to be righteous before God.
What we can be sure of is that this means Joseph was a man of prayer as well as familiar with what we now call the writings of the Old Testament. It also meant that he lived out his faith in a way that was only equaled to by Mary.
Like Mary, he was totally submissive to the will of God. Like Mary, he was humble as well. Like Mary, he also took a vow of virginity. (more on this later) We see that in how he handled the news about Mary's pregnancy. Many people think that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary because he thought she had violated her vow of virginity. But what is more likely is that he was aware she had conceived by the Holy Spirit. In his humility he felt unworthy for the role he knew he would have to play, so he tried to quietly bow out. If he thought she had sinned, his righteousness would have required he publicly divorce her.
I want to make it clear, as have many other preeminant authors on Joseph, that the marriage between Joseph & Mary was a real marriage. They were truly one. They loved each other perfectly. & in a sense, Jesus was the fruit of that union.
Mary's virginity was made fruitful by her bearing Jesus. In Joseph's case his fruitful virginity was the result of his taking the role assigned to him by God, to be Jesus' father. By the angel telling him he was to name the child Jesus, Joseph was told that he was being appointed to truly be Jesus father as the earthly image of the Heavenly Father. This means that what we see in Joseph's actions toward Mary & Jesus are a reflection of the love & care the Heavenly Father has for each & every one of us.
Scripture make's it clear in many places that nothing he did gave those in Nazareth any reason to doubt that he was the father of Jesus. That was because he exercised his role as husband, as well as father, exactly as a righteous man would.
He cared for Mary, he protected her & provided for her. Like any father, he protected & provided for Jesus' needs. He also taught Jesus what it meant to be a real man as well as the skills needed to earn a living. Part of that teaching included Joseph's living out his faith in word & example.
I honestly believe that wherever the Holy Family was, there was a small sampling of Heaven here on Earth. I say this for several reasons. The most obvious is that wherever God is, there is Heaven. Jesus is God. So He brought a bit of Heaven with him. Additionally, what we say in Nazareth was a glimpse of what we will see in eternity.
Mary, as the Queen of Heaven (seen in the Queen mother of Ancient Israel), is there at the side of Jesus. Where Mary is, then her spouse, Joseph, is bound to be. Many saints & mystics have held to this. While the Church has never ruled this to be a doctrine of faith, it has constantly allowed it to be acceptable.
The following is just my opinion. I have not seen this elsewhere, though someone else may well have said so before. When the mother of James & John asked that one be seated at His right, the other at His left, in the kingdom, Jesus said they were reserved from before time for those chosen by the Father. We can be fairly certain that one of them was for Mary as Queen. As I said, logically Joseph would be nearby. So might the other seat (throne) have been reserved for Joseph as the other part of the Incarnational Circle?
Also, since Jesus gave Mary to be our Mother, by His giving Joseph that share in His Fatherhood, Joseph is our Father as well. Think about it. Jesus is our brother. We are adopted sons of the Father. A portion of that Fatherhood eternally resides in Joseph.
That means that we can ask for his intercession, knowing that Jesus cannot say no to the requests of Joseph without being disobedient. We can also be sure that since both Mary & Joseph seek only the will of God & that their will is God's will, then we can be assured that Joseph will know what is God's will for us in all situations & make intercession for that will to be done. & we can be sure that request will be granted.
Another idea that I claim as only my own is that Joseph had to die before Jesus' public ministry. At that time Joseph's role as protector had to end. If he remained on Earth then he would have had to protect Jesus from even being crucified. Since he couldn't, he gladly accepted death at what was about 50 to 55 years of age so that our salvation would be assured.
But now that he is in Heaven, that role as protector has been extended far beyond the Holy Family to the entire Catholic Church. That is a truth we cannot deny as the Church has declared him to be the universal patron of the Church.
Some mystics have said that Joseph conversed with angels for his entire life, fromrly childhood on. That makes perfect sense when we look at the 1st time we hear of an angel appearing to Joseph. What was his reaction? He simply did as the ngel told him. It could only be so if he was familiar with his guardian angel, or angels as some mystics have said he had 2. As a man of faith he would have grown to know & recognize when God spoke to him through them. That is why we see his immediate obedience every time.
Mary too, accepted what Joseph said without question. She is a perfect example of Biblical submission to the husband by the wife. She knew Joseph wouldn't abuse his place as head of the household. So, if he woke Mary up & said that an angel said this, she would trust him to be telling the truth & abey him just the same as if the angel had appeared to her.
Finally, I would like to make a comment on the subject of Joseph's assumption. Again, the Church has never ruled one way or the other, but it does seem logical that given his unique role, he would have been taken body & soul into Heaven. I have no proof, but I suspect one of those saints mentioned as coming back to life at the time of Jesus' resurrection was Joseph. He was allowed a visit to Mary to encourage her. Then he was lead into Heaven by Jesus at the head of all those who had been waiting in the Bosom of Abraham for Jesus to open the Gates of Heaven.
As Papa Francesco said earlier today, Joseph is our perfect example of how to live as a follower of Jesus.
I pray that these poor efforts of mine may be of some use in helping you to better see why San Giuseppe is the perfect model. Also, that they may help increase your devotion to him. According to many mystics, this is the desire of Mary. & if it is what Mary wants, since her will is to do the Will of God, then you can be sure it is God's Will.
May San Giuseppe richly bless you this day with all the graces of Heaven so that you may grow in faith, die more to self & one day join him in Heaven around the Throne, eternally praising & worshiping God.


Note: I wish to make several things clear. 1st of all, nothing I said is to be construed as making Mary & Joseph equal to God. Everything the do is through the Holy Spirit & finds its ultimate source in God.
Next, I wish to remind everyone that the revelations to mystics are private revelations. So, even if they have been approved by bthe Church we are not required to believe them.
Finally, my opinions are just that, opinions. I submit them to the discernment of the Catholic Church. & if at some time the Church should decide something contrary to what I wrote, then I gladly submit to the Church's discernment & authority as the final say.



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