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Brookline Carmel Bulletin †††††††††††††††††††††††

March 19, 1961


Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)


Saint Joseph


Whoever is dedicated to the interior life ought to have a great devotion to Saint Joseph (A Carmelite maxim).


It requires no great insight to discern in Saint Joseph the perfect model of all who lead an interior life.After all, we may very simply and very accurately describe that life as one of intimacy with God.It is not necessarily the same as the contemplative or the hidden life, though very frequently it is linked with one or both.We have to admit that he is an interior man who, in the midst of his daily occupations in the world, lives in the awareness of God and of His lovableness, of the manifold graces, proofs of His love, that He has bestowed, and who withdraws his mind and imagination from all that robs God of his undivided affection.


Next to the Blessed Virgin Mary, no mere human being led a more interior life than Saint Joseph.He was called to it; it was his special vocation.In Godís plan he was chosen to make Jesus and His mother the chief concern of his entire life (In this he is the model of Carmelites, too).His every thought, all his affections were centered upon Him.And not only the faculties of his soul, those of his body, also.The Divine Child was the object, either directly or indirectly, of everything he did.For Saint Joseph was no less than the Vicar on earth of Jesusí Heavenly Father.


No one, therefore, lived more perfectly in the awareness of the goodness and lovableness of God than Saint Joseph.He could behold the divine perfections incarnate in Jesus; he could also see them mirrored most beautifully in His Blessed Mother.Those two sacred charges were, besides, an overwhelming proof of Godís love for him; they are the greatest gifts He can bestow upon mortal man.Joseph was not merely acquainted with and friendly with Mary and Jesus; he was husband and father to them.His vocation was to love them more tenderly and more intimately than any other human being ever would.And (0 prodigy!), he received in turn their own most pure and ardent love.It doesnít seem possible, therefore, that any man could achieve a more exalted degree of personal fulfillment or a more profound sense thereof, than Saint Joseph.It is likewise impossible to conceive of anyone happier.Our own experience reveals that nothing makes us so happy as to live among and receive the affection of persons, who are really holy, i.e., whose moral attributes are those of God Himself, those who in every gesture, word and deed show forth the virtues of God.What must it have been, then, to live under the same roof and to experience the affectionate warmth of the two most saintly and lovable persons who ever walked this earth?After contemplating this fact, the Church is forced to cry out in her liturgy (Hymn at Vespers, Feast of St. Joseph): Post mortem reliquos sore pia consecrat/Palmamque emeritus Gloria suscripit/ Tu vivens Superis par frueris Deo/Mira sorte beatior:It is the lot of others who merit the palm to receive glory and blessedness after death.Your remarkable fortune makes you more blessed; as they in Heaven, you, while living, didst have sweet enjoyment of God (free translation).


The delirious joy that was Saint Josephís in being, after God, the person most dearly loved by Jesus and Mary did not spare him the necessity of living by Faith.From the very beginning his credulity was taxed.First of all, there was the fact of Maryís being with child.After, with the assurance received in a dream, he believed in the divine identity of her son, he had to practice greater faith in order to reconcile His infinite majesty with His humble birth, His omnipotence with His helplessness in the face of Herod, His sanctity with the breach of family discipline and apparent insubordination at His being found in the Temple, His all embracing knowledge with His having to be taught the trade of Joiner.In all his life, Joseph didnít witness a single miracle; he never saw the fulfillment in Jesus of the prophecies that had been handed down for centuries.


It sounds strange to say, but it is true, nevertheless, that the great happiness that was Josephís in being so close to Jesus and Mary was also the occasion of his great anguish of mind.There is nothing that causes a man to suffer more than to be unable to provide adequately for his loved ones.Joseph saw that Jesus and Mary deserved the best, and he was very anxious to give it to them.But because of his poverty, he managed to give them scarcely more than the essentials.He suffered greatly in seeing them forced to endure harsh circumstances in Bethlehem, on the journey to Egypt, and during the long exile there.How painful it was to him that they had to share his lowly station!What a great consolation to us who have such difficulty in convincing ourselves, when we are suffering, that God really loves us and that He is, after all, sending us what is most conducive to our eternal happiness.

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