Saint Joseph. A man above men and a model of fatherhood and masculinity. He’s certainly a saint for all ages, and he is no less revered in our own age as that perfect model of manly sacrifice and submission to the total will of God. His intercession is powerful and his example as a father and man is unparalleled. I mean to take away nothing from our faithful devotion and imitation of Saint Joseph, so if you took offense at the title, please just read further.
Saint Joseph is worthy of imitation in all things. He’s faithful. He’s determined. He’s patient. He’s prayerful. He sacrifices. He works. He honors. He teaches. He submits. He protects. He provides. He loves. He listens. Yet, while we too can strive for all these things, there is still one substantial differing factor in his life compared to our own. If you’ve ever heard jokes that hinge upon the punch line of faulting Saint Joseph if anything went wrong or amiss in the Holy Family, then you might know where this is going!
Think now of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Essentially, the divinity of Jesus meant that Jesus was without sin. And the Church teaches that Mary was Immaculately Conceived, meaning that from the beginning, she was preserved from original sin. Therefore, it is very true that there was no sin in the Holy Family, aside from what Saint Joseph brought into the picture! Presuming that Saint Joseph made mistakes, the only “sorry” uttered in the Holy Household would have come from his mouth. No wonder his most prominent Saintly trait is Humility!
In the same breath, it is often said that you become like the people you surround yourself with most, and Saints are no exception. In fact, we often see Saints rise among other Saints (Ambrose – Augustine. Therese – John of the Cross. Ignatius – Xavier. We could go on and on). There is simply grace to be holy when others around you are holy. And there is temptation to sin when others around you sin. I guess the life lesson is to surround oneself with good and holy people.
In saint Joseph’s case, he was surrounded by the two most perfect people that had ever existed. Imagine being called by God to be the spiritual head of the Holy Family, while being the least qualified of the three (again, Humility)! In order to undertake his role, his response to Jesus and Mary’s perfection could simply not be imperfect, or even mediocre. It had to be as perfect as humanly possible. And the beauty of Saint Joseph is that he rose to the challenge to become that noble and worthy step-father of our Lord and the spouse of our Blessed Mother, and that’s why we revere him as a holy man and a Saint. BUT, if Saint Joseph had a word here, I think he’d humbly say that his holiness was not solely the result of his own efforts and his own strength, but a grace received through his constant dedication and love for Jesus and Mary, with whom he shared his household.
Let’s bring this back to our experience within our own families. Unless you have a wife who is immaculately conceived or children that are fully divine, our family lives are in one dimension very different than what Saint Joseph experienced. In fact, if I examine the ways I sin and the people I mostly sin against, guess what, it’s against my wife and children. There are a million apologies everyday in our household, yet I am still entrusted by God to lead another Holy Family. I am still challenged to imitate Saint Joseph in all his virtue, even though I and the people around me (wife and children) are less than perfect, to put it nicely. Does Saint Joseph even know what it’s like to be a concupiscent man with a concupiscent wife with concupiscent children?
Well, maybe not exactly. So here is the paradox: While Saint Joseph can’t be underrated as a model of Catholic Masculinity, we could say that he is overrated because, by living with a perfect spouse and child, he was drawn into Sainthood like no other saint ever. But he can’t be overrated, because in being overrated, he shows us exactly what we must do! And it’s very simple. He follows God’s will to invite Jesus and Mary into his own life. Thus, he devotes himself to Mary and he submits himself to Jesus. Imitating his Humility, we must do the same if we are to be holy men!
So, for all of us men, perhaps turning to Jesus and Mary is the grace that our world and our families need. By all means, we must closely observe Saint Joseph’s holy example, especially his Humility. Relying on his humble intercession, his own expertise in honoring Jesus and Mary naturally increases our devotion to them, and by turning to the Holy Family, we can start the chain of holiness within our families so that holiness leads to holiness leads to holiness leads to holiness!
Becoming like Saint Joseph QuickTips:
- Like Saint Joseph, daily invite Mary and Jesus into your life.
- If you’re not already the hub of holiness in your family, then be it, because maybe it’ll rub off on others.
- Let your spouse’s holiness rub off on you. (Or, if the opposite is true, then respond in love, and avoid lashing back in resentment or anger)
- In your household, say “sorry” when you need to, especially for the little things. Be humble.
- Imagine your wife and children were Mary and Jesus. How would you interact with them differently?
~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide