5 Greatest Titles of the Incredible St. Joseph
This past weekend on March 19 the Church celebrated the great feast of St. Joseph. There is so much to learn about this saint and from this saint in spite of what little actual "history" we have about him. Tradition has given rise to some beautiful titles for St. Joseph that can help us get to know this saint better and begin to model ourselves after his holiness.
1. Light of Patriarchs
This title may be a bit "controversial" in a world that often rejects and even despises the concept of "patriarchy." Of course, historically there has been much abuse and neglect in the form of "patriarchy" just as there is when any form of power that is misused. Calling St. Joseph a "Light of Patriarchs" indicates that those in the natural role of patriarchal authority (men who are husbands, fathers, priests, religious, etc.) can look to him as a guide for using that authority well. In Scripture St. Joseph is a figure of discernment, wisdom, obedience, protection, duty, and service. These qualities make him a Light of Patriarchs--a model for those in positions of authority.
2. Joseph Most Just
Scripture tells us that St. Joseph, although initially believing Mary to have been unfaithful, did not wish to expose her to cruel punishment. Instead, he decided to "divorce her quietly." St. Joseph's sense of justice and righteousness out-weighed his own ego, his own sense of personal pain, and his need for retribution. This is a challenge for all of us when we have been wronged (or think that we have been).
3. Joseph Most Chaste
There are some traditions that claim St. Joseph was an older man or even an older widower when he married Our Lady. Some traditions claim that he was a young man at the time of the marriage. We don't actually know, but this title generally makes me consider him as a young man newly married to a young woman of profound inner and outward beauty. We already know that St. Joseph's understanding of the marriage he was entering changed completely when the angel came to him in a dream and revealed God's plan for Mary and himself. St. Joseph's chastity flowed from an incredible dedication to his role in the life of Jesus and Mary. I don't think it could have been easy for him, which is what makes it so inspiring to us. Let us all reflect on how this virtue is modeled by St. Joseph for us and pray for guidance in practicing this virtue ourselves in our relationships--whether we are married or dating.
4. Mirror of Patience
St. Joseph's obedience is often something that comes up in conversations about him. As it should--Scripture tells us of how obediently St. Joseph responded to God's direction in caring for Mary and Jesus. However, a virtue that goes hand-in-hand with obedience is patience. St. Joseph did not demand to know the full plan laid out step-by-step before God's chosen time. We must imagine he was anxious when he could not find a fitting place for Mary to give birth in. We must imagine he was anxious to hear that his family was being hunted. But he patiently awaited the revelation of God's plan, submitting himself completely to God's providence.
5. Model of Artisans
This is a beautiful title that reminds us that St. Joseph was fully human--talented, hard-working, with an eye for beauty and quality. It also reminds us that we are called to put our talents and creativity to use. You might think that being the foster father of Our Lord and Savior and the spouse of Our Lady would be enough to ask, but God blessed St. Joseph with a trade and he practiced that trade with integrity and skill. We are sanctified in our daily lives by seemingly "little things" we do to glorify God.
These 5 and so many other beautiful titles of St. Joseph have been established by the Church for us to reflect on and pray over. St. Joseph is a model for all of us and his titles can help us focus on attributes that we especially hope to attain.