Wednesday, March 19, 2008

St. Joseph, Our Model in Time of Trial

[The great solemnity of St. Joseph would normally be kept on this day, but since it's Holy Week, it is not observed, but I thought it would still be proper to remember this most august saint on this day. The following is taken from "The Glories of St. Joseph," compiled by the Monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Flavigny, France.]

The Flight Into Egypty, by Giotto di Bondone

"Although the just are all just, nevertheless there is a great disparity between the particular deeds of their justice [Editors' note: The words "just" and "justice" are often taken in Holy Scripture for "saint" and "saintliness."]."

"Some saints excelled in one virtue, some in another. They are all saved, but in different ways, there being as many different sainthoods as there are saints."

"O, what a great saint is the glorious St. Joseph! He is not only a patriarch, but the prince of all Patriarchs; he is not simply a Confessor, but still more, for his life contained the generosity of the martyrs and of all the other saints."

"Among the virtues which were found to an eminent degree in St. Joseph are courage, perseverance, constancy, and strength. Now there is a great difference between constancy and perseverance, between strength and courage."

"We call constant or steadfast the man who holds firm during the fight, ready to suffer the enemy's attacks without dismay or loss of heart; perseverance is mainly concerned with a kind of inner weariness which comes when our troubles are long-drown-out and which is one of the most dangerous enemies we meet. Thus, perseverance allows a man to scorn that enemy in such a way that he triumphs by his unbroken conformity and submission to God's will."

"Strength enables a man effectively to resist his enemy's attacks; courage is the virtue which not only keeps him ready for battle or resistance in due time, but also encourages him to attack first, when the enemy is off guard."

"Thus our glorious St. Joseph was blessed with all these virtues and he practiced them wondrously well. As regards his constancy, how greatly it shone forth, did it not, when he saw Our Lady with child without understanding how such a thing could happen? My God, what distress, what trouble and what grief he endured! Nevertheless, he did not complain once; he was not harsh nor unkind toward his wife; he did not mistreat her for it, remaining just as gentle and respectful as before. But to what courage and strength does not the victory bear witness which he won over the two greatest enemies of man, the devil and the world, by that perfect humility which, as we have seen, he practices throughout his life. As for perseverance, the contrary of lassitude, that inner enemy which invades us in the long succession of miseries, humiliations, hardships, and misfortunes, or simply the various happenings of our lives, how greatly was this saint tested by God and by men, too!

-St. Francis de Sales


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