A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

St. Joseph Countdown: Joseph's Purity

I hope you've enjoyed reading the excerpts from Pere Binet's little book about St. Joseph! Special thanks to those who manage that beautiful online "shrine" to St. Joseph. This will be the last post that I will copy and paste and excerpt from the book, since you all can read the rest of it online here. However, I did want to post a particularly beautiful chapter on the "eminent graces of Joseph's soul." I especially love how Binet draws to our attention Joseph's virginity. Without mentioning any specifics, there have been dubious claims all over the media (St. Clare, Patroness of TV, pray for us!) stating that Our Lord had biological brothers and sisters. Thus, it's especially important to reiterate once again that Our Lady and also St. Joseph were perpetual virgins, as Binet points out in this reflection.

Binet also emphasizes the purity of Joseph's soul. Let us remember that we should always turn to St. Joseph when we are struggling against temptations that lead us towards bodily impurity....I'm sure things got quite frustrating for him at times, yet somehow God gave him the grace to remain pure in spirit, mind, and body throughout his entire life! To that end, here is a special prayer to say to St. Joseph when struggling against bodily temptations:

Saint Joseph, Guardian of virgins and father, to whose faithful care Christ Jesus, innocence itself, and Mary, Virgin of virgins, were entrusted, I ask and beg of thee, through these two dearest pledges, Jesus and Mary, preserve me from all defilement, and make it always possible for me unsullied in mind, pure in heart, and chaste in body to give to Jesus and Mary my holiest service. Amen.


ALL natural gifts are not to be compared in value to the value of one supernatural grace. What must then be the wealth of St. Joseph's soul! The graces without number which he received from Divine generosity are so stupendous that our feeble minds are unable to comprehend them, and it seems to me not to be one of the least glories of Our Lady to have had as spouse a man whom the hand of the Almighty had endowed with every virtue. For my part, I desire to lose myself in the incomprehensible grandeur of this great Saint, and after I have said all that can be said, to confess humbly that I have said nothing. For if it be true, as I have already established, that God apportions His gifts in proportion to the offices He imposes on man, so that he may support them with dignity, St. Joseph must have received such a prodigious abundance of Heavenly graces that we cannot contemplate them without holy fear. We shall now return to what we briefly alluded to in the first chapters, and shall derive there----from conclusions very glorious for our Saint.

I. St. Joseph, Virgin. In the first place, he was a virgin, so much that his virginal purity yielded in brilliancy and merit to that of the Queen of Virgins alone. What supreme graces he must have received to preserve this angelical virtue in an age which despised virginity, and to guard this delicate lily without the slightest taint or stain on its brilliant whiteness! According to the holy Fathers, he that preserves intact the treasure of virginity ranks higher than the Angels. To what a degree of holiness must not St. Joseph have attained, who was the first to preserve it in the state of marriage, and preserved it with such fidelity!

II. St. Joseph, guardian angel of Mary. Secondly, Joseph was chosen from all eternity to be the visible guardian angel of the virginity of Our Lady. Must not, then, his soul have been armed with every virtue, and fortified by every assistance necessary for such a noble and admirable office? Consider what manner of man Joseph is! The Angels and Saints are only the servants of the glorious Virgin, while he is her guardian angel and her spouse. This title, to which we now only allude in passing, is far beyond the comprehension of our feeble intelligence for, husband and wife being but one heart and one soul, what must be the sovereign dignity of a man who, so to speak, is one with the most holy Mother of the living God!

St. Bernardin of Siena has boldly grasped this thought. He says that as the virginal marriage of Mary and Joseph consisted in the union of their wills, the friendship of their hearts, and the love of their souls increased to such a degree that there never were two hearts more completely identified, two souls more dissolved into one, and he adds that the Holy Spirit would never have formed this union without rendering the husband perfectly similar to the wife. It was beseeming that the likeness of these two suns should be so striking, that it would be difficult to distinguish one from the other. On one hand, the holiness of Our Lady outshines the holiness of all creatures; on the other hand, the holiness of Joseph is entirely alike the holiness of Mary. Later on we shall treat this subject more at length.

III. St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus. Let us dwell a little on this title, "guardian of Jesus," so as to understand the eminence of St. Joseph's dignity. The learned and pious Rupert, of the Order of St. Benedict, says Jacob's ladder is a figure of the genealogy of Jesus Christ: the different steps being the patriarchs, the kings, the princes, his ancestors, and the upmost step being St. Joseph, who stands with open arms to receive and embrace the Infant Messias, the Divine pupil, to Whom he must serve as guardian and father. To understand the importance of this office we must remember the words of St. Paul: "As long as the heir is a child he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father." Meanwhile his possessions and his person are disposed of without consulting him, and when the time of his majority arrives the master ratifies all, as if it had been done by himself.

Oh, reader, can you imagine such pre-eminence as that of St. Joseph? Our Lord said: "Blessed is the faithful and wise servant, for the Lord will place him over all His goods." What power: to have everything in his hands; to be accountable to no one! I wish I were equal to the task of treating this sublime subject and showing the significance of these words: "He has placed him over all His goods?" He is general administrator of all the goods of the Incarnate Word, with full power to distribute them to whom and when he pleases. Nay, as governor of His person, he can give God Himself to whom he pleases! Is not this to be exalted above men and Angels, and even, to a certain extent, above God Himself?

Consider now what follows from this with regard to the sanctity of Joseph. Since it was in his power to distribute the goods of Jesus to whom he would, can you doubt that he took for himself an abundance of all that was most precious?

When the Savior traversed the towns and villages of Judea, it sufficed to touch the hem of His garment in order to receive signal graces. My God, my Creator, with what innumerable graces must not Joseph have been enriched from the heart of the Divine Child, Whom he carried so often in his arms, lavishing on Him his kisses and caresses! When Jesus slept on the breast of the holy Patriarch, can you doubt that He communicated to him the sweetest and most ineffable graces? Perhaps He went to sleep in his arms, with the intention, while reposing on his breast, to communicate to him His favors, and to crown him with His mercies. If it be Paradise to contemplate the Eternal and Uncreated Word in the bosom of His father, is it not likewise Paradise to see the Word made flesh, now on the virginal bosom of Mary His mother, and now in the arms of His foster-father Joseph?

IV. Joseph living in the company of Jesus and Mary. Lastly, I say, that St. Joseph, true mirror of virginal purity, guardian angel of Our Lady, and protector of Jesus Christ, had the incomparable happiness of living, according to the general belief, twenty-five years in their sweet and holy company, and of having constantly before his eyes these models of perfection.

From all parts of the Christian world the pious faithful travel to St. Mary Major in Rome, to Loretto, to Montserrat, and other places of pilgrimage, where it pleases God to manifest the goodness and the power of His most holy Mother. These pious pilgrims feel the greatest confidence. They do not doubt that, praying humbly before the picture of Mary, painted by St. Luke, or before other images of Our Lady, honored in these sanctuaries, they will obtain all they ask for. But the chapel of Loretto was the house and ordinary habitation of Joseph, who needed not to make pilgrimages, or to seek for pictures and copies, having the original continually before his eyes. There he conversed sweetly with Mary, and recommended himself to her holy prayers. There she, who never rejects the least of her servants, certainly denied nothing to him. Think of what blessings the presence of such a spouse must have imparted to the heart of Joseph: while she looked at him, inflaming him with the kindling rays of her burning charity; while her blessed lips addressed him with words that might have entranced the hearts of men and of Angels, nay, of God Himself. As the devout pilgrim never fails to find Jesus in the sanctuaries of Mary; so, in the house of Nazareth, Joseph had Jesus always present with Mary, and saw, with his eyes, the Divine Child grow in age, in wisdom, and in grace, before God and men.

Who can describe what superabundance of divine blessings inundated the soul of this incomparable Saint! He, too, every day, and every moment, grew in grace and in virtue, enjoying without interruption what we may call the beatific vision, never ceasing to see God, and to be seen by Him. To see God, and to be regarded by Him cannot fail to produce a blessing, can never be without fruit. The burning rays of the sun gild all that is exposed to them; Jesus Christ, the sun of Paradise, Our Lady, the star of the Church, were as the planets which favored Joseph with their beneficent aspect, the sacred channels through which God the Father exerted His influence; how, then, could the soul of the great Patriarch fail to be illuminated with the splendors of the Saints, to overflow with the treasures of Divinity?

In ancient times, had one asked why a mine of, gold or silver was to be found in one place, pearls and diamonds in others; here, flowers of exquisite beauty, and there, fragrant balm; the answer would have been given, without more research, that a secret influence from heaven smiled upon that favored land Now, the eyes of the Eternal Father were ever resting on St. Joseph; the Holy Spirit was continually abiding in his soul; Jesus Christ regarded him with the love of a son; Our Lady's affection for him was unbounded; the Angels were devoted to him. How is it possible to imagine or describe the graces of this heart, the Heavenly blessings in the most pure soul of this peerless man?

Our Lord has said that if anyone love Him, he will be loved by the Father, and that both will come and make their abode in the breast of that man. Never was this promise verified more completely than in the innocent heart of Joseph, who, besides the general love common to all the servants of Jesus Christ, enjoyed the special love due to a guardian, a governor, a master, and a father.

Great were also the graces which Joseph derived from his constant communion with his most holy spouse. His eyes were always directed towards her and Jesus, studying their conduct, imitating, so to speak, their every action. He treasured up in his heart all the eminent perfections which he observed in theirs. Open the heart of Joseph, and you will find therein the faithful copies, the perfect imitations of the sublime virtues of his adopted son Jesus, and of his blessed spouse Mary. The hands of those who always work with balm become as odoriferous as if they themselves were made of balm.

I wish I could give as a fact what I have read in certain ancient authors, that nature has formed diamonds which, when exposed to the sun, emit rays so piercing, that they have the virtue of changing a piece of crystal into a diamond nearly as precious as themselves. Yet that which, in the order of nature, is but fiction, is found to be true in the order of grace. Joseph, pure as crystal, and constantly exposed to the rays emanating from Jesus and Mary, was as if transformed into a most excellent copy of the celestial beauties of both. O ineffable transformation! O new trinity of persons, and unity of hearts! Pardon me, great and amiable Saint, if I dare to speak of what is inexpressible; if I attempt to develop a part of your greatness. Enlighten my mind, fortify my heart, that I may proceed with a firm and unerring step on the path of thy praises.


Blogger Patrick said...

Salvation is always the ending of the minds fascinated identification with the dead and unchanging image of what it was. It is the complete reversal of the
"natural" order of things a METANOIA - the Greek word for repentance, meaning precisely a turning around of the mind, so that it no longer faces into the past, the land of the shadow of death, but into the Eternal Present.
So long as the mind is captivated by memory, and really feels itself to be that past image which is "I" it can do nothing to save itself; it's sacrifices are of no avail, and it's Law gives no life.
After years of therapy, I had a metamorphosis - I asked Jesus to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. He delivered me from my inequities. Praise the Lord!!

Peace Be With You

3:16 PM  

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