The Feast of St. Joseph

As noted before, I’ve developed a great affection for St. Joseph, whose feast day is today.

It is also, of course, Joseph Ratzinger’s name day (or onomastico, in Italian), and Benedict XVI, as we now call him, took note of that in his homly at mass today in Cameroon:

“Jesus Christ brings us together on this day when the Church, here in Cameroon and throughout the world, celebrates the Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of the Virgin Mary. I begin by wishing a very happy feast day to all those who, like myself, have received the grace of bearing this beautiful name, and I ask Saint Joseph to grant them his special protection in guiding them towards the Lord Jesus Christ all the days of their life.”


So little is known of the details of Joseph’s life (the Catholic Encyclopedia entry is here), and unlike many other saints, the Catholic imagination has somehow neglected to fill in the blanks. One of my favorite novels, and certainly the favorite of recent years, is Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” which, from one angle I think, can be read as the story of Joseph and the Holy Family. (Then again I may be putting too much onto Robinson’s Calvinist sensibility.)

For thos with only a few minutes to spare, check out the reflections of our trusty guide to all things saintly, Father Jim Martin, SJ, in a video on St. Joseph from Loyola Productions.

Happy Feast day to all Josephs!

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Charles Cosimano

posted March 19, 2009 at 11:13 am

Let me see. If I remember, St. Joseph, being a carpenter, meant that his feast day was another reason to go out and get hammered.

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posted March 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

The passage you cited is at the end of an address that includes gems like this:
Saint Joseph was the spouse of Mary. In the same way, each father sees himself entrusted with the mystery of womanhood through his own wife. Dear fathers, like Saint Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God where they must be (cf. Lk 2:49).
How can anybody reading passages such as this even contemplate the idea that the Church hates women, hates sex and sexuality, and is out of touch with the real world?

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph. I love reading your posts.
In answer to your question, it isn’t that the Church is out of touch with the real world. It is blessedly out of step with the ‘real world’. In the ‘real world’ there is no moral source to curb one’s sexual appetites. There is a loathing of pregnancy, because a baby demands continence and responsibility of its parents, which does not square with the prevailing narcissistic self-indulgence. So, either we feed the narcissistic beast or we kill it. We’ve chosen to feed over 50 million babies to the insatiable maw of the narcissistic beast. How many babies escape abortion into single-parent homes?
Benedict’s homily strikes at the very heart of the current state of Western Civilization’s decline.
God Bless!

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Mere Catholic

posted March 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm

David, thank you for a great post on one of my favorite saints!
I’d once read a story about Blessed Pope John XXIII having commissioned a painting of Christ surrounded by the communion of Saints. When he noted that the artist had neglected to put St. Joseph in his rightful place as head of the Holy Family next to Mary and Jesus, he asked for a new painting. Not sure about the veracity of the story, but I like that the Pope had a soft-spot for the often-neglected St. Joseph, a true model for men, fathers, and all Christians.

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posted March 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Since this is the patron Saint of Italy, it is a good day and full of good memories, like the fritelle my Nonna Marina made for us, simple pancakes with eggs, flour, milk and rice. My cousin says you can use apples too. Delicious! St. Joseph was a step-parent, not an easy role and single parents can be excellent parents too. Here’s to responsible fatherhood, motherhood and parenthood!!

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Guy Selvester

posted March 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Actually, St. Joseph is NOT the patron saint of Italy. He is the patron saint of the Universal Church. The co-patron saints of Italy are St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena.

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David Gibson

posted March 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Dear Mere, I love that John XXIII story–so charcteristic, and God know if it’s true!
But as we say in the tabloids, too good to check out.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 19, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Guy Selvester,
Only say that from the safety of an underground bunker :o) Good St Joseph’s Feast Day to you.

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posted March 19, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph. I love reading your posts.
Thanks Gerard Nadal! Happy Feast Day to you, too!! :)
(Beliefnet, I’m available for blogging duties. I promise not to post spurious claims about Catholics who are really Catholic, but I can’t promise fairness and impartiality about Catholics who are really not.)

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Alex De Vivo

posted March 20, 2009 at 1:37 am

Actually, in Italy, March 19th is celebrated as Father’s Day—very appropiate.

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