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In Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part posting we focussed on the virtues and trials of the Blessed Virgin’s husband: the chaste and pure Saint Joseph.

Due to the length of this last narrative ‘Part 3’ appears in four (4) separate posts labeled 3a, 3b, 3c and 3d.

Let us delve more deeply into Saint Joseph’s internal agitations and his great emotional pain upon discovering, and being reminded daily of, the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy:

The Anxieties of Saint Joseph Increase

In his tormenting doubts, the most upright heart of Saint Joseph sometimes prudently tried to find relief and ease for his sorrow by reasoning for himself and persuading himself that the pregnancy of his Spouse was as yet doubtful.

But, this self-deception vanished more and more every day on account of the increasing evidence of that state in the most holy Virgin.

As this vain and fleeting consolation failed him more and more, and finally changed into complete conviction as her pregnancy advanced, the glorious Saint found no haven of refuge in his anxieties.

In the meanwhile, the heavenly Princess grew in loveliness and in perfect freedom from all bodily failings. Her charming beauty, healthfulness and gracefulness visibly increased before his eyes.

All this only nourished the anxieties and the torments of his most chaste love, so that his interior was involved by the turbulent waves of his loving sorrow in unutterable confusion and he as finally stranded on the shores of a sea of grief by the overpowering evidence of his senses in regard to the pregnancy of Mary.

Although his spirit was always conformed to the will of God, yet his flesh in his weakness felt the excess of his interior trouble, which at last reached such a point that he knew not any more which way to turn.

The strength of his body was broken and vanished away, not by a definite disease, but in weakness and emaciation.

These effects of his profound sorrow and melancholy became openly visible in his countenance. Moreover, as he suffered all this alone without seeking relief or lessening his sorrow by communication with others, as is customary with the afflicted, his suffering grew to be so much the more serious and incurable.

In the meanwhile, the sorrow which filled the heart of the most holy Mary was equally great.

Yet, although her sorrow exceeded all bounds, the capacity of her generous and magnanimous soul was much greater and therefore She could conceal her grief more completely, and occupy her faculties in the loving care of Saint Joseph, her spouse.

Her sorrow therefore only incited Her to attend so much the more devotedly to his health and comfort. Nevertheless, as the inviolable rule of the actions of the most prudent Queen was to perform all in the fullness of wisdom and perfection, She continued to conceal the mystery about the disclosure of which She had received no command.

Though She alone could relieve her spouse by an explanation, She withheld it in reverence and faithfulness due to the sacrament of the heavenly King (The Book of Tobit Chapter 12 Verse 7: ‘For it is good to hide the secret of a king: to reveal and confess the works of God – etenim sacramentum regis abscondere bonum est opera autem Dei revelare et confiteri honorificum est.’)

As far as She herself was concerned, She exerted her utmost powers; She spoke to him about his health, She asked what She could do to serve him and afford him help in the weakness which so mastered him.

She urged him to take some rest and recreation, since it was a duty to yield to necessity and repair the weakened strength, in order to be able to work for the Lord afterward.

Saint Joseph observed all the actions of his heavenly Spouse, and, pondering over such virtue and discretion and feeling the effects of her intercourse and presence, he said:

‘Is it possible that a Women of such habits, and in whom such graces of the Lord are manifest, can bring over me such affliction?

How can this prudence and holiness agree with these open signs of her infidelity to God and to me, who love Her so much?

If I conclude to send Her away, or to leave Her, I lose her most loving company, all my comfort, my home and my tranquility. What blessing equal to Her can I find if I withdraw from Her?

What consolation, if this one fails?

But all this weighs less than the infamy connected with this sad misfortune, and that I should come to be looked upon as her accomplice in crime.

That this event remain concealed is not possible; since time will reveal all, even if I strive now to hide it.

To pass as the author of this pregnancy will be a vile deceit and a blotch on my good name and conscience.

I cannot recognize it as caused by me, nor can I ascribe it to any other source known to me. Hence, what am I to do in this dire stress?

The least evil will be to absent myself and leave my house before her delivery comes upon Her;

for then I would be still more confused and afflicted. I would then be obliged to live in my own house with a child not my own, without being able to find any outlet or expedient.’

Imprimatur: † Edwin V. Byrne, D.D., Archbishop of Santa Fe, 9 February 1949 A.D.

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