Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of St. Joseph, 24th Day, Year of Our Lord 2023
Holy Mother Church, full of wisdom, puts the month of St Joseph and the feast of St Joseph in the middle of Lent every year, because as far as I can reckon it, this month is the only one which is virtually guaranteed to be entirely contained by the season of Lent, particularly if you count Septuagesima as I do. I have been pondering this for many days during the novena which has ended a week ago, to be quickly followed by the novena of Mater Dolorossa, which by the calendar I use, doubles itself, although I am not sure how that happened.
I do not know that I have reached many conclusions in my ponderings. I will say that I find the active labor of the yard the surest support for strict penance, vigils, and fastings, much more during this season, whereas it was all intellectual labors during the holy season of Advent. I have written much less and stepped back from many obligations until Easter, but I have built garden beds and planned a house and hewed timbers and cleaned my shed, all in order to maintain these penances which, small and pathetic though they are when compared to the normal life of a man such as St. Joseph, before even factoring in his sanctity that surely increased his penance manifold, are still barely doable by a heart as corrupted as mine and a soul cleaving so continually to the dust. Working the dust, reflecting on its transient nature, how all this passes away in fire below the feet of the saints after the Final Judgment, is the tonic of my whining flesh.
Regardless, here is a very small thing I wrote, trying to imagine his interior life, and not getting very far. But Holy Mother Church provides these meditative topics with the idea that we will spend eternity plumbing them, and whatever small gleanings we gain here are nothing when compared to that, but they are vastly important for the merit and help which they lend to our salvation.
Laetare, St Joseph’s Day,
Joseph came to the end of his labor that day, his garment of one piece covered in sawdust and chips, his feet and hands sore and callused, cracked and bleeding, but he did not perceive it. For he came, too, near the end of a long and illumined imagination of the prophet Habacuc and his wife, within what their home might have been, though surely they were in different places. But a man that had given all his family to the purposes of God, and who had made the very names of his children for the words of the Lord, and these sorrowful ones, such a man was worth deep thought. Every time he had looked upon those faces, how he must have remembered the sorry fate of wanton Israel and longed for Heaven.
Joseph lamented his own imperfections which he saw always before him, and he implored God to correct him. He looked upon his delight, which was his Wife. What an immensity for God this was! To have chosen a man of his sort, base and unheeded, poor. But he had vowed chastity and so had She, and what an unexpected thing, these two who had no desire for marriage, and how God had glorified Himself.
Within that Womb, Whose exterior he did not allow himself to look upon for modesty, though of course Her modesty concealed it, was the very God Who had arranged it all. And what stupifying glory was that! And here was Joseph, a man, in simplicity and the greatest joy of every moment by this fact, determining still that daily life, and considering whether he should sit or deny himself. What a thought to waste time on in the presence of God Almighty Sabaoth!
He knelt and prayed.