This beautiful painting by Murillo is called "The Two Trinities," and you can see why Marcel is a fan. Right in the center is our very own little Jesus, linking together Heaven and earth, the Holy Trinity and the Holiest Family ever!
I want to join our little brother in wishing you a very merry and truly happy St. Joseph day! We've been thinking a lot about the silent partner in the Holy Family, and there is both so much to say and so little. Or rather, St. Joseph is so silent that it's hard to know quite what to say . . . Following his silence, the Church was for such a long time fairly silent about him, and Marcel was congratulating me just today on living so far "into the future" that we who live now get the privilege of TWO St. Joseph Days, a Solemnity (today) and a Feast (of St. Joseph the worker, Mary 1st), plus his name not only in the Canon ("first Eucharistic prayer") of the Mass, but in ALL the Eucharistic prayers of the Mass (thanks to Papa Ben whose initiative this was and Papa Francis who carried it out), and in short, we take it for granted that St. Joseph is one of the greatest Saints we have. Yes, absolutely!!
In my reading for today, here's what else I uncovered: despite so many paintings that make St. Joseph out to be an old man, that would actually have been as shocking in his day as in ours - an enormous inequality of age with Our Lady when they married. Nope, I have it on good authority (argued out carefully by my new Dominican friend in the book I mentioned yesterday, Joseph the Silent) that St. Joseph was a few years older than Mary, but not very much older. It was customary for Jewish men to marry around age 18 in those days. If you want an image of this younger, strong (thus capable of guarding and protecting God's most precious treasures) St. Joseph, I can do no better than refer you to the Joseph in Franco Z's Jesus of Nazareth movie. There you will find the image closest (as far as I've ever been able to find, anyhow) to the real St. Joseph . . .
Also I was heartened and joyful to read that, as would only be right and just, Mary had so much respect and love for St. Joseph! Of course! How could it be otherwise? They were the perfect married couple, the perfect parents, and she was the perfect wife. How could this have been so if she did not esteem her spouse, enjoy his company, and have full confidence in his goodness and prudence that she might trust him in the raising of Jesus? Also customary in their day and culture would have been for little Jesus to spend most of His time with His mother, Mary until He was a certain age and ready to then spend most of His time with His father, Joseph, from whom He learned both the Hebrew Scriptures and carpentry. I think that age when He began to spend most of His days with St. Joseph would have been about 6 or 7. What a good, gentle, wise, prudent, loving, and trustworthy father St. Joseph must have been for Our Heavenly Father to entrust the Word made flesh to him!
Finally, when we think of St. Joseph and his place in God's plan, it is wonderful to reflect on his humility and confidence in God. He knew he wasn't worthy to be Mary's virginal spouse, let alone Jesus' virginal father - and yet God had chosen him, and so he trusted our Heavenly Father completely to supply for all he lacked.
I must say on behalf of Marcel and myself that when thinking about St. Joseph this last 48 hours or so, I found a reflection of him in the life of Marcel. I think perhaps the reason St. Joseph remained silent in Marcel's Conversations was because Marcel already had a St. Joseph figure in his life at that time and indeed until he went to meet St. Joseph in Heaven -- namely, his bearded Jesus, Fr. Antonio Boucher! Gentle, kind, prudent, holy, and on the quieter side, just like good St. Joseph! When we think of how little known Marcel is in the big world-celebrity (even saint-celebrity) scheme of things, we must smile to see how much less, even, Fr. Boucher is known. Yes, he's in the background for now. He had a mission, like St. Joseph did, to raise a little Redeemer, and like St. Joseph, Fr. Boucher carried out God's vocation for him perfectly to the end. Then he had to leave the cause (in this case, the literal cause) in other hands. Bravo, Fr. Boucher! Bravo, St. Joseph! We sing both your praises today, and the praises too of all the quiet, heroic men, in history and in our lives, who fulfill God's plan for them as priestly fathers and married fathers.
Good and gentle St. Joseph, help all fathers. Help our priests to be great priests who take care of little Jesus with the same reverence and adoration with which you cared for Him, and may they help us, their spiritual children, as they bring us Jesus and His mercy in the Sacraments. Help our husbands and fathers of families to be filled with the prudence God poured into your receptive soul, and obtain for them the graces they need to be gentle and good, yet strong against the harshness of the world in order to protect those entrusted to their care. Finally, St. Joseph, as you protected Our Lady, protect all women - in whatever state of life we find ourselves. Find good spouses for those called to marriage, obtain from Our Lady the graces for wives and mothers to be wonderful like she was and is, and for those called to the religious life, guide them ever closer in intimacy with little Jesus, an intimacy like yours!
I hope your St. Joseph day is the best ever! May we rejoice in the glories of this magnificent guardian of the Church, taking him as a father for ourselves and learning from him how to live in constant proximity to our darling Jesus! I'm sure he will be happy to pray with us to the Blessed Trinity:
Draw me, we will run!!!
And don't forget to feast on this feast!! There's a reason St. Joseph's solemnity comes in Lent - he's slipping us a treat as he must have often done with little Jesus! Mary is smiling - she knows all about their antics and ours. And Marcel? He's over the moon with joy that his Fr. Boucher and St. Joseph are mentioned together. Yes, he says, at last! Thank you, Fr. Boucher, and thank you, Marcel! Kiss little Jesus for us, and Blessed Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph (our good father) too!
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