Thought for the day:

"Give me grace to amend my life, and to have an eye to mine end, without grudge of death, which to them that die in thee,
good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life."
St. Thomas More


"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man; to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do."
St. Thomas Aquinas


All souls owe their eternity to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many have turned their back to him.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Aquinas, Thursday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

The preaching of the Samaritan woman'The woman therefore left her water-pot, and went her way
into the city'
.--John iv. 28.

This woman, once Christ had instructed her, became an apostle. There are three things which we can gather from what she said and what she did.

1. The entirety of her surrender to Our Lord. This is shown: (i) From the fact that she left lying there, almost as if forgotten, that for which she had come to the well, the water and the water-pot. So great was her absorption. Hence it is said, The woman left her water-pot and went away into the city, went away to announce the wonderful works of Christ. She cared no longer for the bodily comforts in view of the usefulness of better things, following in this the example of the Apostles of whom it is said that, Leaving their nets they followed the Lord (Mark 1. 18).

The water-pot stands for fashionable desire, by means of which men draw up pleasures from those depths of darkness signified by the well, that is, from practices which are of the earth earthy. Those who abandon such desires for the sake of God are like the woman who left her water-pot.

(ii) From the multitude of people to whom she tells the news, not to one nor to two or three but to a whole city. This is why she went away into the city.

2. A method of preaching. She saith to the men there: 'Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not He the Christ?'--John iv. 29.

(i) She invites them to look upon Christ: Come, and see a man--she did not straightway say that they should give themselves to Christ, for that might have been for them an occasion for blasphemy, but, to begin with, she told them things about Christ which were believable and open to observation. She told them He was a man. Nor did she say, Believe, but come and see, for she knew that if they, too, tasted of that well, looking that is upon Our Lord, they, too, would feel all she had felt. And she follows the example of a true preacher in that she attracts the men not to herself but to Christ.

(ii) She gives them a hint that Christ is God when she says, A man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done, that is to say, how many husbands she had had. She is not ashamed to bring up things that make for her own confusion, because the soul, once it is lighted up with the divine fire, in no way looks to earthly values and standards, cares neither for its own glory nor its shame, but only for that flame which holds and consumes it.

(iii) She suggests that this proves the majesty of Christ, saying, Is not he the Christ? She does not dare to assert that He is the Christ, lest she have the appearance of wishing to teach others, and the others, irritated thereat, refuse to go out to Him. Nor, on the other hand, does she leave the matter in silence, but she puts it before them questioningly, as though she left it to their own judgment. For this is the easiest of all ways of persuasion.

3. The Fruit of Preaching. 'They therefore went out of the city and came unto Christ.'--John iv. 30.

Hereby it is made clear to us that if we would come to Christ, we too must go out of the city, which is to say, we must lay aside all love of bodily delights.

'Let us go forth therefore to Him without the camp'
(Heb. xiii. 13).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eve of the Eve of the Annunciation

The following is from a Book from 1891, 'Half Hours with the Servants of God'.  On the eve of the eve of the Annunciation.


An angel presented himself to Mary, and she was troubled.  Scarcely had he begun to speak to her than fear seized her, so that she felt within her a host of perplexing thoughts:  "She was troubled at his saying, and thought within herself, shat manner of salutation this should be."

If Mary had been one of those worldly persons, who are only virgins in body, but not so in spirit, this visit she received would not have surprised her much, and the praises bestowed upon her, instead of astonishing her, would have agreeably flattered her.  But the profession she had made as a virgin was undertaken solely with the view of devoting herself entirely to God; the rules which had been prescribed had been strictly kept, which were to renounce the manners and customs of a profane age; her exact and severe regularity, her attention never to relax in the least duty, the preservation of an irreproachable conduct which was proof against the slightest censure, the modesty and bashfulness which were with her supernatural; the opinion she had formed that praises bestowed on her sex and favorably received, that praises even tolerated and quietly listened to, were to her a secret and contagious poison; ---all these caused her a trouble which she was not ashamed of showing; because being troubled in that was, she manifested the true character of a virgin faithful to God.

On Mary's answer depended the accomplishment of this glorious mystery.  This consent was, in order of the eternal decrees of God, one of the conditions required for the Incarnation of the Word; and this is the essential obligation we are under to this Queen of virgins, since it is of faith that it is through her that Jesus Christ has been given to us, and it is to her we are indebted for this Divine Saviour.  For if the Son, even of God, descends from His glory in heaven, if He enters into the chaste tabernacle of Mary to be made flesh, it is at the moment she has said, and because she has said it, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Thy word."

It is not in consequence of this answer and consent of Mary that the Son of God came down from heaven and became Incarnate.  Mary conceived the Word first through the humility of her heart, and secondly through the purity of her body.

It is humility, says St. Augustine, which, on the part of man, should be the first and most necessary acquirement when conferring with God.  If then, God chose Mary to be His mother, it was that she alone appeared to Him to possess that perfect humility which He required.  In fact, as St. Bernard remarks, a God who was on the point of humiliating Himself, even to the excess of clothing Himself with our flesh, ought to have an infinite liking for humility.

But what is there so peculiar in Mary's humility?  Why, first of all, it was a humility joined to a fullness of grace; she was saluted as Gratia plena, full of grace; and she replies that she is the handmaid of the Lord.  Secondly, it was also a humility highly honorable; an angel comes to tell her that she will be Mother of God, and she gives herself the title only of handmaid of the Lord.

This is what delighted Heaven; this it is that determined the Word of God to leave the bosom of His Father, and enclose Himself in the womb of Mary.

Whilst she humiliates herself before God, the Son of God empties Himself in her.  "Emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant."

From all this let us learn to be humble.  A mother of God humble, a God emptied!  What a lesson for us!  Without humility there is no Christianity, no religion, since without humility, we should not have had the Incarnation or a God made man.

Secondly, Mary conceived the Word through the purity of her body and through her virginity.  The prophet had foretold that the Messiah should be born of a virgin; and it was, ways St. Bernard, essential that a God, by making Himself man, should have had a virgin for mother, since any other conception than that would not have suited the dignity of God, and would have dimmed the brightness and glory of His divinity.  Also, according to the beautiful idea of St. Bernard, the whole of this mystery passes between God, an angel, and Mary, which traces out for us three different characteristics of the most perfect purity.

From this, what conclusion can we come to?  Why, that God being of Himself the essence of purity, it was necessary that a union so wonderful should be in harmony, and this was accomplished when the Word was made flesh.  God, in this mystery, gives the preference to virginal purity by choosing a virgin-mother, and by deputing an angel to be His ambassador.

Do not be astonished, continues St. Bernard, since the purity of this Virgin was so meritorious that it raised her above the level of angels.  The angels are naturally pure, by a privilege of beatitude and glory, but Mary was so be election and virtue, so much so that she was troubled at the sight of an angel; this was the effect of her watchfulness to preserve the treasure of her purity.  She was also ready to renounce the dignity of divine maternity rather than cease to be a virgin, and thus it was that God felt induced to descend into her in order that Word should be made flesh:  Verbum caro factum est.

You see form this what care we should ever take to preserve our bodies from any stain of impurity.
re:  Le Pere Bourdaloue.

Imagine what it is to be a Son of God, and you can have some idea what it is to be His mother; the excellence of the one will make you understand the excellence of the other. 
re:  St. Gregory, on First Book of Kings.

And now from a more recent writing ('The Liturgical Year'  in 1923), a hymn:

Hail, star of the sea! Blessed Mother of God, yet ever a Virgin!  O happy gate of heaven!

Thou that didst receive the Ave from Gabriel's lips, confirm us in peace, and so let Eva be change into the Ave of blessing for us.

Loose the sinner's chains, bring light to the blind, drive from us our evils, and ask all good things for us.

Show thyself a Mother, and offer our prayers to Him, who would be born of thee, when born for us.

O incomparable Virgin, and meekest of the meek, obtain us the forgiveness of our sins, and make us meek and chaste.

Obtain us purity of life, and a safe pilgrimage; that we may be united with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.

Praise be to God the Father, and to the Lord Jesus, and to the Holy Ghost:  to the Three one self-same praise.  Amen.

Aquinas, Wednesday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

The Price of Our Redemption'You are bought with a great price.--I Cor. vi. 20


The indignities and sufferings anyone suffers are measured according to the dignity of the person concerned. If a king is struck in the face he suffers a greater indignity than does a private person. But the dignity of Christ is infinite, for He is a divine person. Therefore, any suffering undergone by Him, even the least conceivable suffering, is infinite. Any suffering at all, then, undergone by Him, without His death, would have sufficed to redeem the human race.

St. Bernard says that the least drop of the Blood of Christ would have sufficed for the redemption of us all. And Christ could have shed that one drop without dying. Therefore, even without dying He could, by some kind of suffering, have redeemed, that is, bought back, all mankind.

Now in buying two things are required, an amount equal to the price demanded and the assigning of that amount to the purpose of buying. For if a man gives a price that is not equal in value to the thing to be bought, we do not say that he has bought it, but only that he has partly bought it, and partly been given it. For example, if a man buys for ten shillings a book that is worth twenty shillings, he has partly bought the book and it has, partly, been given to him. Or again, if he puts together a greater price but does not assign it to the buying, he is not said to buy the book. If therefore when we speak of the redemption and buying back of the human race we have in view the amount of the price, we must say that any suffering undergone by Christ, even without His death, would have sufficed, because of the infinite worth of His person. If, however, we speak of the redemption with reference to the setting of the price to the purpose in hand, we have then to say that no other suffering of Christ less than His death, was set by God and by Christ as the price to be paid for the redemption of man kind. And this was so for three reasons:

1. That the price of our redemption should not only be infinite in value, but be of the same kind as what it bought, i.e., that it should be with a death that He bought us back from death.

2. That the death of Christ would be not only the price of our redemption but also an example of courage, so that men would not be afraid to die for the truth. St. Paul makes mention of this and the preceding cause when he says, That, through death, He might destroy him who had the empire of death (this is the first cause), and might deliver them, who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude (this for the second cause) (Heb. ii. 14, 15)

3. That the death of Christ might be a sacrament to work our salvation; we, that is, dying to sin, to bodily desires and to our own will through the power of the death of Christ. These reasons are given by St. Peter when he says, "Christ, who died once for our sins, the just for the unjust; that He might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit"(1 Pet. iii. 18).

And so it is that mankind has not been redeemed by any other suffering of Christ without His death.

But, as a matter of fact, Christ would have paid sufficiently for the redemption of mankind not only by giving His own life but by suffering any suffering no matter how slight, if this slight suffering had been the thing divinely appointed, and Christ would thereby have paid sufficiently because of the infinite worth of His person.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

St. Benedict

Father of Western Monasticism
Saint Benedict, blessed by grace as his prophetic name seemed to foretell, was born of a noble Italian family in Umbria, in the year 480. As a boy he showed great inclination for virtue, and maturity in his actions. He was sent to Rome at the age of seven, to be placed in the public schools. At the age of fourteen, alarmed by the licentiousness of the Roman youth, he fled to the desert mountains of Subiaco, forty miles from Rome, and was directed by the Holy Spirit into a deep, craggy, and almost inaccessible cave, since known as the Holy Grotto. He lived there for three years, unknown to anyone save a holy monk named Romanus, who clothed him with the monastic habit and brought him food.

He was eventually discovered, when, one Easter day, God advised a priest who lived about four miles from there, to take food to His servant, who was starving. The priest searched in the hills and finally found the solitary, and they took their meal together. Some shepherds also knew of his retreat, and soon the fame of this hermit's sanctity began to spread. The demon persecuted him, but to no avail; when a temptation of the flesh assailed him, he rolled in a clump of thorns and nettles, and came out of it covered with blood but sound in spirit.

Disciples came to him, and under his direction, numerous monasteries were founded. The rigor of the rule he drew up, however, brought upon him the hatred of some of the monks, and one of them mixed poison with the Abbot's drink. When the Saint made the sign of the cross on the poisoned bowl, it broke and fell in pieces to the ground.

Saint Benedict resurrected a boy whose father pleaded for that miracle, saying "Give me back my son!" He replied, "Such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed apostles! Why will you lay upon me a burden which my weakness cannot bear?" But finally, moved by compassion, he prostrated himself upon the body of the child, and prayed: "Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the Faith of this man, and restore the soul which Thou hast taken away!" And the child rose up, and walked to the waiting arms of his father. When a monk lost the iron head of his axe in a river, the Abbot told him to throw the handle in after it, and it rose from the river bed to resume its former place.

Six days before his death, Saint Benedict ordered his grave to be prepared, then fell ill of a fever. On the sixth day he asked to be carried to the chapel, and, having received the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, with hands uplifted and leaning on one of his disciples, he calmly expired in prayer, on the 21st of March, 543.

Reflection. The Saints never feared to undertake any work for God, however arduous, because distrusting self they relied for assistance and support wholly upon prayer.

St. Benedict who was born in the 5th century, but also to the more recent past, to the Christendom of France, in the year 1850, during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX. Living in a time of restoration in the aftermath of revolution which reduced the great European abbeys to rubble, Fr. Jean-Baptiste Muard, a diocesan missionary, was inspired by a signal grace of Providence to restore the monastic apostolate of the Church to its purest and original form, as lived by the disciples of the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Desert Fathers in particular. Being led by the hand of God, he walked as a pilgrim from France to Italy, eventually arriving at the hallowed shrine of St. Benedict in Subiaco, east of Rome. He would later meet with the Holy Father still in exile at Gaëta, whounder the duress of revolution still raging and tearing apart Italy in the name of unity, had made himself abbot of St. Benedict’s original monastery. This heroic intervention of Pope Pius IX to save the Benedictine Order from extinction in his overall struggle to restore the Church in the time of unprecedented crisis would become the foundational principle of our present monastery.

From Rome, Fr. Muard would bring the Rule of St. Benedict back to France at the same time as other great works of restoration were already underway. The Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance was thus born and under the continued guidance of Pius IX foundations were established throughout Europe, rising from the ashes of once glorious Christendom.
The restoration of the Church, in the mind of Pio Nono, would come through the Queen of Heaven, who herself would confirm his teaching through the miraculous apparitions at Lourdes, and also in the restoration of the contemplative monastic Orders. The faithful echo of this determined action would be heard again in our own day in the words of Archbishop Lefebvre, Without Monasteries, without religious consecrated to prayer, the Church will never be revived from the present crisis.

The conflict of civil revolution, the destruction wrought by World Wars, and the universal disorder of Modernism have become as the great fire that germinates the seed of the giant solitary Redwoods, and today in the critical context of restoration,the contemplative Orders are yet once again being re-founded. The sons and daughters of the saintly Fr. Muard have preserved his fervent desire for a return to the purity of the Rule of St. Benedict with its emphasis on the contemplative monastic life. In this work is found the integrity of a life, the sana doctrina, (Titus II, 1) the sane doctrine of the Church as found in the lives of her greatest saints. This newest branch of the great Benedictine tree is once again flourishing and the cause for the beatification of Fr. Muard is in Rome.

The Church has been blessed through Benedictine devotion to the liturgy, not only in its actual celebration with rich and proper ceremony in the great abbeys, but also through the scholarly studies of many of its members. Liturgy is sometimes confused with guitars or choirs, Latin or Bach. We should be grateful to those who both preserve and adapt the genuine tradition of worship in the Church.


“Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of man is manifested by signs perceptible to the senses...; in the liturgy full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members."

“From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body the Church, is a sacred action, surpassing all others”
(Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7). They at Vat. II actually had a 'blind squirrel' moment, meaning they found a nugget of Truth, at least in this instance.

St. Benedict, please pray for our Holy Father, and for our priests, that they may return to the life expected of them.

Aquinas, Tuesday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

Christ is truly our Redeemer"You were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled."--I Pet. 1. 19.

By the sin of our first parents, the whole human race was alienated from God, as is taught in the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians. It was not from God's power that we were thereby cut off, but from that sight of God's face to which His children and His servants are admitted.

Then again we descended beneath the usurped power of the devil. Man had consented to the devil's will and, thereby, had made himself subject to the devil; subject, that is to say, as far as lay in man's power, for since he was not his own property, but the property of another, he could not really give himself away to the devil.

By His Passion, then, Christ did two things. He freed us from the power of the enemy, conquering him by virtues which were the very contraries to the vices by which he had conquered man--by humility, namely, by obedience and by an austerity of suffering that was in direct opposition to the enjoyment of forbidden food.

Furthermore, by making satisfaction for the sin committed, Christ joined man with God and made him the child and servant of God.

This emancipation had about it two things that make it a kind of buying. Christ is said to have bought us back or to have redeemed us inasmuch as He snatched us from the power of the devil, as a king is said, by hard-fought battles, to redeem his kingdom that the enemy has occupied. Christ is again said to have redeemed us inasmuch as He placated God for us, paying as it were the price of His satisfaction on our behalf, that we might be freed both from the penalty and from the sin.

This price, His precious blood, He paid that He might make satisfaction for us not to the devil but to God. Again, by the victory that His Passion was, He took us away from the devil.

The devil had indeed had dominion over us, but unjustly, since what power he had was usurped. Nevertheless, it was but just that we should fall under his yoke, seeing that it was by him we were overcome. This is why it was necessary that the devil should be overcome by the very forces by which he had himself overcome. For he had not overcome by violence, but by a lying persuasion to sin.

Monday, March 20, 2017


The Glorious St. Joseph
St. Joseph, Protector of the ChurchToday is the feast day of the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph. He almost seems to disappear out of our thoughts as if he isn't really important. How shameful of us. He is the official guardian of the Church, of families, of the sick and the dying, of fathers, etc. He is ranked above even the angels who guard us each, because he guarded the Son of God Himself. This is much more important, at least to me. It is of the opinion of all the saints and theologians that he was preserved from sin in his mother's womb, though not at conception as Our Blessed Mother was, but more like Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist. But, probably his inner womb cleansing was even better than theirs. It only makes sense if you stop and think about it. He is the one who gave the holy Name of Jesus at His presentation in the temple. I'm willing to bet that Jesus even looked like St. Joseph, too.

He is regarded as being of the 'old rite', but he helped bring in the new. He, and him alone, protected God Himself, Jesus, when he protected his wife, Mary, the human ark of the New Covenant. He never got to see the Church with the Apostles get going, but never the less knew of it happening. It is said that Jesus came to St. Joseph, probably when he was ill, and foretold what was to happen in the near future. He was given insight into the 'promise'. He was, after Jesus died and Ascended, the first to enter heaven after Our Lord, and has a very prominent place there, for sure.

Two years ago, I resolved to read the entire set of 'The City of God' by Mary of Agreda. In the 3rd volume, 16th chapter, St. Joseph has died, and Our Blessed Mother made the following statements regarding St. Joseph. She said that because of the privileges bestowed upon St. Joseph, his intercession is most powerful, especially for these causes:

1. For attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh;
2. For procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God;
3. For increasing the love and devotion to the Most Holy Mary;
4. For securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour;
5. For inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients;
6. For gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties;
7. For securing issue of children in families.

St. Theresa of Avila stated: "I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked at any time for anything, which he has not granted", and..."To other Saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor us in some of our necessities, but of this glorious Saint my experience is that he succors us in them all."

St. Thomas Aquinas, who was an early devotee of the glorious St. Joseph, taught the same. He wrote: "Some Saints are privileged to extend to us their patronage with particular efficacy in certain needs, but not in others; but our holy patron St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking."

Decree Proclaiming St. Joseph
Patron of the Catholic Church

To the City and World:--Just as God had made Joseph, born of the Patriarch Jacob, governor over the whole land of Egypt that he might save the grain for the people, so also, when the fullness of time being near, he was to send His only begotten Son to this earth that he might be the Saviour of the world, he chose another Joseph, of whom the former was only a figure, and made him the master and ruler of His house and His possessions, and appointed him the keeper of His most precious treasury. For his Spouse was the Immaculate Virgin Mary, from whom by the Holy Ghost is born Jesus Christ our Lord, who deigned to be held by men, as the son of Joseph, to whom also He was subject. Whom kings and prophets desired to see, Joseph did not only see but conversed with Him and with fatherly affection embraced and kissed Him; with skillful care he nourished Him whom the faithful people, in order to obtain life everlasting, were to eat as their Bread came down from heaven. On account of the sublime dignity, which God has bestowed on his most faithful servant, the Church has always after his spouse, the Virgin Mother of God, offered special honor and praise to Blessed Joseph and implored his intercession in all her anxieties. In the present very sad times, the Church, persecuted on all sides by her enemies, is oppressed by terrible calamities that godless men try to believe the gates of hell will at last prevail against her.

Hence the venerable bishops of this whole Catholic World have presented to the Supreme Pontiff their own petitions and those of the faithful entrusted to their charge praying that he would appoint St. Joseph the Patron of the Catholic Church. Later, when at the holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican the same petitions and requests were urged with new vigor, our holy Father and Pope Pius IX, moved by the recent mournful state of affairs, agreed to comply with the wishes of the Bishops, and to place himself and the faithful under the most powerful patronage of the holy Patriarch Joseph, therefore, solemnly proclaimed him Patron of the Catholic Church, and ordained that his feast, on Mar. 19th, should be celebrated in future with the rank of a double of the first class, though without octave on account of Lent. He also commanded that this proclamation should be made public by this present decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites on the day dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and Spouse of the chaste Joseph. Everything to the contrary notwithstanding. On the 8th Dec., 1870.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Church

Let's not forget about St. Joseph. Let us ask for his help in our daily needs. He's there waiting to bring us home, just as he did with Mary and Jesus from Egypt.

Read on. Some thoughts on this glorious saint by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Fr. Hardon on St. Joseph

St. Joseph - Foster Father of Jesus

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
It is remarkable, how little the Holy Spirit says about famous people in the Bible. The classic example of this is Saint Joseph. He is the most prominent saint in the Catholic liturgy after the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet there is not a single word in the Scriptures quoting Saint Joseph.

Our plan here is to identify just five qualities of Saint Joseph. Each quality will be briefly described and then applied to ourselves. Of the twenty five invocations in the Litany of Saint Joseph, the ones on which we shall concentrate really cover all we know about the spouse of the Mother of God. Each invocation deserves a volume of commentary.

The Humility of Saint Joseph:
Humility, as we know, is the truth. It is the virtue that enables us to recognize and act on the recognition of our true relationship to God first, and to other persons.

By this standard, Saint Joseph was a very humble man.

He recognized his place with respect to Mary and Jesus. He knew that he was inferior to both of them in the order of grace. Yet he accepted his role as spouse of Mary and guardian of the Son of God.

The lesson for us is that genuine humility prevents us from claiming to be better or more than we really are. At the same time, we are not to underestimate ourselves either. A humble person does not consider himself more than he is but also not less than he is.

If we are truly humble, we do not pretend to be more than we really are, which is pride. But we also do not deny what we are, or claim to be less, which is false humility.

Humility is the moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one’s total dependence on God. Moral humility recognizes one’s creaturely equality with other human beings. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride. It is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God’s gifts and use them according to the will of God.

The Chastity of Saint Joseph:
The Church’s constant tradition holds that Saint Joseph lived a life of consecrated chastity. Some of the apocryphal gospels picture him as an old man, even a widower. This is not the Church’s teaching.

We are rather to believe that he was a virgin, who entered into a virginal marriage with Mary. This was to protect Mary’s reputation and safeguard the dignity of her Son.

What is the lesson for us? That chastity has an apostolic purpose. It is meant to help us win souls. It also shows how highly God regards the virtue of chastity, seeing that He providentially arranged a series of miracles of chastity:

The virginal conception of the Savior.

The virginal birth of the Son of God.

The marriage of Mary and Joseph.

The life of Jesus Christ.

Chastity is the virtue that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of faith. For married people, chastity moderates the desire in conformity with their life. For the unmarried people who wish to marry, the desire is moderated by abstention until (or unless) they get married. For those who resolve not to marry, the desire is totally sacrificed.

Chastity and purity, modesty and decency are comparable in that they have the basic meaning of freedom from whatever is lewd or salacious.

Yet they also differ. Chastity implies an opposition to the immoral in the sense of lustful or licentious. It implies refraining from all acts or thoughts that are not in accordance with the Church’s teaching about the use of one’s reproductive powers. It particularly emphasizes an avoidance of anything that might defile or make the soul unclean because the body has not been controlled in the exercise of its most imperious passion.

The Obedience of Saint Joseph:
Joseph’s obedience covers every aspect of his life.

He was obedient in entering into a marriage with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He was obedient in his willingness to put her away when, though he knew she was innocent, he found her with child.

He was obedient when he went to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, and accepted the humiliation of having Jesus born in a stable cave.

He was obedient in taking the Child and His Mother by night and fleeing to Egypt.

He was obedient in taking the Christ Child to Jerusalem, as prescribed by the Law, and accepted God’s mysterious will when the Child was lost, and God’s even more mysterious will when Jesus told Mary that he must be about His Father’s affairs—even to grievously paining Joseph, His foster father, in order to do the will of His Father.

What are the lessons for us? Obedience is the test of our love of God. His laws are God’s way of enabling us to prove our love for Him; there is no obedience where there is no love, there is much obedience where there is much love.

Joseph was head of the Holy Family. He did not have identifiable superiors whom he should obey. Joseph’s obedience consequently was mainly interior.

This is illustrated by the fact that each time Joseph was to obey, he was divinely inspired. Thus it was by a special communication from God that Joseph was told to marry the Blessed Virgin. Thus it was also by interior communication that he was told to marry the Blessed Virgin after he found that she was pregnant. It was also by divine communication that Joseph was told to flee with Mary to Egypt. It was also by divine communication that he was told to return from Egypt to Palestine. It was finally by divine communication that Joseph was instructed to live with Jesus and Mary in Palestine. We may also say that Joseph was divinely instructed to remain in Palestine after the Holy Family returned to Nazareth.

There is not a single recorded word of Saint Joseph which he spoke during his years of caring for Jesus and Mary.

We may say that Joseph’s obedience was profoundly interior. He obeyed God’s will by supernatural instinct. Needless to say, he did not have to be ordered by God to exercise authority over Jesus and Mary. We may say that Joseph obeyed not because he was told to but because his mind was always conformed to the mind of God. We may further say that Joseph’s faith always saw in Jesus the living God who instructed His foster father constantly in everything that the Lord wanted him to do.

The Prudence of Saint Joseph: The prudence of Saint Joseph is part of our Catholic faith. It is especially shown in his remarkable practice of silence. Of course, Joseph talked. Yet the Gospels do not record a single word he spoke, no doubt to teach us that if we wish to practice the virtue of prudence, we must look to our practice of silence.

We are to be silent when others want us to speak, and we practice charity by our self-control.

We are to be silent when it is clearly necessary to do something and not talk about it. For some people talk and more talk is an excuse for doing God’s will, but speech is no substitute for actions.

No one has practiced prudence better than Jesus and Mary. But Saint Joseph teaches us that prudence is correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that should be avoided.

Prudence is the intellectual virtue by which a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil. In this sense, prudence is a moral virtue that enables a person to devise, choose, and prepare suitable means for the avoidance of any evil. Prudence resides in the practical intellect and is both acquired by one’s own acts and infused along with sanctifying grace. Prudence may be said to be natural as developed by our own efforts, and supernatural because it is conferred by God.

As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental cooperation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct the rest of one’s activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made.

The Love that Joseph Had for Jesus and Mary: Saint Joseph deserves our admiration for his other virtues, but he is to be especially imitated in his love for Jesus and Mary.

He was placed into their lives by an all-wise Providence and lived up to God’s expectations by giving them his deepest attention and care.

What most bears emphasis is not so much that Jesus and Mary were physically so close to Saint Joseph. He was in their company day after day for many years.

It was rather that Joseph put his love into practice.

Joseph put his love to work. He did not merely tell Jesus and Mary that he loved them. He acted out his love. He lived it.

That is the secret of true love. We are as truly devoted to Christ and His Mother as we do what we know they want us to do. And what is that? It is to see God’s providence in everything that enters our lives:

the disappointments and failures

the unexpected turn of events

the frustrating delays

the unwanted demands on our time

the strange behavior of some people

the mysterious silence of God who often hides the purpose He has and yet tells us, through people—that is the key, through people—what He wants us to do.

Saint Joseph is surely worth studying and invoking to help us love Jesus and Mary as he loved them. So we should pray:

Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus and protector of the Virgin Mary, teach us the hardest lesson we have to learn in life; to love as you loved, by putting our affections to use, and by acting on the sentiments we so often express in our prayers. Teach us to understand what Mary meant when she said, "Be it done to me according to your will." And what Jesus meant when He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."

Father Hardon (deceased), was the Executive Editor of The Catholic Faith magazine.

Thank you reading these thoughts on this wonderful Saint, Joseph. Maybe the fathers among us can try to immolate him in becoming what is expected of us in raising our children. Myself included.