One of the most important people in the New Testament never says a single word in all of Scripture: St. Joseph! Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, is recognized by the Catholic Church on his feast day of March 19.
Though he is silent throughout Scripture, St. Joseph led the Holy Family with immense faith, chastity, and trust in God. His relationship with Mary is also a source of great inspiration and a model for us even in the present day. St. Joseph is one of the most powerful intercessors in the Christian faith.
And this year is one of the best years to make it a priority to get to know St. Joseph even better. Pope Francis declared this year as the Year of St. Joseph. In doing so, Pope Francis pointed out that St. Joseph is like so many people who live out of the limelight, but carry on with hope, patience, and virtue living ordinary daily lives.
Though he is quiet and seemingly in the background throughout Scripture, there is still so much we can learn from this holy saint.
Why is St. Joseph important?
In the Catholic Church, we recognize Joseph as the head of the Holy Family. He is also known as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church. Quite simply, he is the earthly father of the second person of the Trinity.
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St. Joseph is important not only for his important role in Jesus and Mary’s life, but we also know from Scripture he was a man of great virtue and faith. It is hard to expect anything less of the earthly father of the Messiah and the husband of Mary, who was immaculately conceived. He is important because just as Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus, Joseph played a special role in the life of Christ as well.
The many names that Joseph is known by show how he is seen by the Church. Among other names, Joseph is known as the Terror of Demons, Joseph Most Chaste, Most Valiant Protector of the Church, Patron of the Dying and Solace of the Afflicted, Joseph Most Obedient, and Joseph Most Faithful.
What we can learn from St. Joseph
The names of St. Joseph also give us a hint as to the many things we can learn from him. Not much is said about him in Scripture, but let’s look at a few of the lessons this great saint teaches us by his life and role in the life of Jesus.
We can learn humility from Joseph. He lived a simple life in Nazareth as a carpenter. He didn’t pursue worldly fame or achievement, but sought to provide for his family and care for them. He lived his vocation faithfully and sought the will of God. This is what God asks us to do, too.
Worldly achievements aren’t bad, but our priority should be to seek the will of God and live the vocation to which we have been called. St. Joseph, as Pope Francis said, lived out of the limelight but his holiness was no less profound and his role no less important because of this.
We can also learn obedience to God from Joseph. In the Gospels, we read that God spoke to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod. Joseph, without a second thought, took his family and went without asking God or doubting His plan and wisdom. St. Joseph was faithful in the large and small things.
We too can learn from him to listen to God when He’s asking us to do something, even if it seems scary or confusing at the time.
In concert with obedience, we can also learn how to trust God. Similar to the flight to Egypt, God reassured Joseph when he discovered Mary was pregnant with Jesus. God told Joseph to take Mary as his wife and to be not afraid.
While this may be difficult, we too can listen to God’s call to be not afraid in whatever He is asking us to do in our lives.
In the Catholic Church, we believe that Mary was ever-virgin. Thus, Mary and Joseph’s marriage was a chaste and particularly holy one. Many traditional art pieces of St. Joseph depict him as much older or even elderly to account for this - and while I don't know for sure - Fulton Sheen argued that St. Joseph was a young man, which gives even more weight to his chaste virtue.
Take a listen to my interview on the Catholic Brides Podcast here!
St. Joseph, Saint and Intercessor
St. Joseph is clearly a saint for all of us - there is so much we can learn from his life and apply to our own. More specifically, we can ask for his intercession on a few specific prayer intentions.
He is the patron saint of the Universal Church, unborn children, families, fathers, travelers, immigrants, and a happy death. Many people also ask him for help in finding a job or selling or buying a home.
Consider learning more about St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph. There are a number of prayers and devotions you can do throughout the year to obtain a plenary indulgence for the Year of St. Joseph. Learn more about those opportunities here.
Whatever your prayers are, St. Joseph is a great saint to turn to for help and inspiration!
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