The old adage states that “behind every strong man is a strong woman.” Secular culture has typically subscribed to the notion of the man being the one who takes action, gets things done, and reaches heights of success because a woman is behind the scenes ensuring his success. I’m not quite sure that’s how Saint Joseph rolled. If anything, he preferred to give the spotlight to Mary, and because of who she is, she didn’t crave the spotlight either. Through Saint Joseph’s fiat and Our Blessed Mother’s fiat, they offered their individual spotlights to raising Jesus and glorifying God.
Perhaps a more fitting adage for Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother would be that behind every strong couple is a woman and man who belong to each other freely and completely, giving their lives to Jesus Christ. That is what they do for us when we ask them to intercede for us.
A United Fiat
In their marriage, Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother reflected their fiats to one another. There was no hesitation to continue the work of caring for Jesus and meeting His human needs. Their “yes” didn’t come with limitations. They reciprocated the other’s “yes” unconditionally and faithfully. We know that when we ask for their intercession for us to be obedient to God’s will in our lives, we are asking two people who lived it out.
Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother faced circumstances that most of us will not ever face, but their response was to do as the Lord commanded. That is why we read in books and in prayers, “ite ad Joseph” (go to Joseph) or why people say, “Run to Mary.”
If you think about that in terms of when you were a child, you would go to your father and ask him for something you wanted or needed help with. When you got hurt or needed comfort you would run to your mother and she would receive you in her embrace.
Mary belonged to Joseph, and Joseph to Mary, so much so that their marriage was very real, since they gave themselves to each other. But how could they do this? Behold the triumph of purity. They reciprocally gave their virginity, and over this virginity they gave each other a mutual right. What right? To safeguard the other’s virtue. // Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Shield Us
In their marital union, Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph actively sought to protect one another. Saint Joseph protected Our Blessed Mother and did not cause a scene when he said he would quietly divorce Mary (see Matthew 1:19). Our Blessed Mother similarly protected Saint Joseph in his mission to be holy.
Whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary are the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth. // Pope St. John Paul II
Both of them knew they were called to holiness and protected that holiness in one another and in their marriage. This protection is given to us when we ask Our Blessed Mother to keep us under the mantle of her protection or likewise when we ask Saint Joseph to keep us under the protection of his cloak.
A mother instinctively knows how to protect and nurture at the same time. Likewise, we ask Saint Joseph to keep us under the protection of his cloak. A father knows he has to stay attentive to his environment in order to protect his family. A father safeguards his children and is the first line of defense. Both Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph know how to protect us. Who would know how to protect us better than they who had to go another way because Herod was after the baby Jesus (see Matthew 2:12)?
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In the Litany of Loreto, we invoke several titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mother most chaste, Mother inviolate, and Mother undefiled. These three specific titles are reflected in the Litany of Saint Joseph as well. “Joseph most Chaste,” “Joseph Guardian of Virgins,” and “Guardian of the Virgin.” Pick any of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary and you can find it mirrored in the Litany of Saint Joseph. Perhaps not in the exact same words, but if you look closely you will see that each title of the Blessed Virgin Mary has a corresponding response in the Litany of Saint Joseph.
Since Mary is what might be called a ‘virginizer’ of young men as well as women, and the greatest inspiration of Christian purity, should she not logically have begun by inspiring and virginizing the first youth whom she had probably ever met – Joseph, the Just? It was not by diminishing his power to love but by elevating it that she would have her first conquest, and in her own spouse, the man who was a man, and not a senile watchman! // Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Saint Joseph reinforced the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, thus receiving the titles he has in his own Litany. When we ask Our Blessed Mother to intercede for us under any of her titles—or St. Joseph for that matter—we can be confident that they both have the same inextinguishable desire to draw us near their Son.
The Extraordinary Hidden Life
Saint Joseph could have been prideful about being the father of the Son of Man, yet he doesn’t make a fuss about it. His carpentry work was probably exceptional because of the kind of heart he had and yet he remained humble. We are told Mary kept all of these things in her heart (see Luke 2:19). She did not run to nearby villages trying to gain status because an angel of the Lord appeared to her or use the fact that she was pregnant with the Christ Child as a means to gain notoriety. She refrained from using this calling from God to gain earthly esteem for herself.
Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother did not want anything for themselves like the kings and queens who had come before them. They did not desire to usurp the throne from Jesus or scheme against God’s plan in order to bring glory and honor to themselves. Everything pointed back to Jesus.
It makes perfect sense that St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother would be our first advocates, next to Jesus Himself, in helping us draw close to Our Father. Our own lives can often feel so hidden from the world that we convince ourselves that if we aren’t producing, then we aren’t allowed to ask Jesus in prayer for the things that are dear to our hearts. That is clearly not true as we see in the hidden life of Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother. They know what it is like to live a hidden life and they were raising the Son of Man.
This hidden life is what we are called to in our everyday lives to allow Jesus to dwell in us as he dwelt in the hearts of Ssint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother.
Saint Joseph and Mother Mary, pray for us!