Part 1 and Part 2, of this three-part posting, focusses on the virtues and trials of the Blessed Virgin’s husband: the most chaste and pure Saint Joseph.
‘Part 3’ of this narrative 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:
How The Blessed Virgin Mary Helped Saint Joseph Out Of His Anxieties Concerning Her Pregnancy
The Princess of heaven, becoming aware of the resolve of Her spouse Saint Joseph to leave Her and absent himself, turned in great sorrow to Her holy angels and said to them:
‘Blessed spirits and ministers of the highest King, Who raised you to felicity which you enjoy, and by His kind Providence accompany me as His faithful servants and as my guardians, I beseech you, my friends, to present before God’s clemency the afflictions of my spouse Joseph. Beseech the Lord to look upon him and console him as a true Father. And you also, who so devotedly obey His words, hear likewise my prayers; in the name of Him who is infinite, and to whom I am to give human shape in my womb, I pray, beseech and supplicate you, that without delay you assist and relieve my most faithful spouse in the affliction of his heart and drive from his mind and heart his resolve of leaving me.’
The angels which the Queen selected for this purpose obeyed immediately and instilled into the heart of Saint Joseph many holy thoughts, persuading him anew that his Spouse Mary was holy and most perfect, and that he could not believe anything wrong of Her; that God was incomprehensible in His works, and most hidden in His judgments (Psalm 33 Verse 19: The Lord is nigh (near) unto them that are of a contrite heart: and He will save the humble of spirit – iuxta est Dominus contritis corde et confractos spiritu salvabit); that He was always most faithful to those who confide in Him, and that He would never despise or forsake them in tribulation.
By these and other holy inspirations the troubled spirit of Saint Joseph was somewhat quieted, although he did not know whence they came; but
as the cause of his sorrow was not removed, he soon relapsed, not finding anything to assure and soothe his soul, and he returned to his resolve of withdrawing and leaving his Spouse.
The heavenly Queen was aware of this and She concluded that it was necessary to avert this danger and to insist in earnest prayer on a remedy.
She addressed Herself entirely to Her most holy Son in Her womb, and with most ardent affection of Her soul She prayed:
‘Lord and God of my soul, with Thy permission, although I am but dust and ashes (Genesis Chapter 18, Verse 27: And Abraham answered, and said: Seeing I have once begun, I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes – respondens Abraham ait quia semel coepi loquar ad Dominum meum cum sim pulvis et cinis), I will speak in Thy kingly presence and manifest to Thee my sighs, that cannot be hidden from Thee (Psalm 37 Verse 10: Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hidden from thee – Domine in conspectu tuo omne desiderium meum et gemitus meus a te non est absconditus).
It is my duty not to be remiss in assisting the spouse whom I have received from Thy hand.
I see him overwhelmed by the tribulation, which Thou hast sent him, and it would not be kind in me to forsake him therein.
If I have found grace in Thy eyes, I beseech Thee, Lord and eternal God, by the love which obliged Thee to enter into the womb of Thy servant for the salvation of mankind, to be pleased to console Thy servant Joseph and dispose him to assist me in the fulfillment of Thy great works.
It would not be well that I, Thy servant, be left without a husband for a protection and guardian.
Do not permit, my Lord and God, that he execute his resolve and withdraw from me.’
The Most High answered Her:
‘My dearest Dove,
‘I shall presently visit My servant Joseph with consolation; and after I shall have manifested to him by My angel the sacrament, which is unknown to him, thou mayest speak openly about all that I have done with thee, without the necessity of keeping silent thenceforward in these matters.
‘I will fill him with My Spirit and make him apt to perform his share in these mysteries.
‘He will assist Thee in them and aid Thee in all that will happen.’
With this promise of the Lord, most holy Mary was comforted and consoled, and She gave most fervent thanks to the same Lord, Who disposes all things in admirable order, measure and weight.
For besides the consolation, which the relief from this anxiety afforded Her, She also knew well how proper it was that the spirit of Saint Joseph be tried and dilated by this tribulation before the great mysteries should be entrusted to his care.
Let us ponder the following phrase with great attention and deliberation:
“(The Virgin Mary)… knew well how proper it was that the spirit of Saint Joseph be tried and dilated by this tribulation before the great mysteries should be entrusted to his care.”
Meanwhile, Saint Joseph was still dealing with great mental anguish:
In the meanwhile Saint Joseph was anxiously debating within himself concerning the proper course of action, for he had borne his tribulation already for two months; and now, overcome by the greatness of it, he argued with himself:
‘I do not find a better way out of these difficulties than to absent myself.
‘I confess that my Spouse is most perfect and exhibits nothing but what shows Her a Saint; but
‘after all She is pregnant and of it I cannot fathom the mystery.
‘I do not wish to injure Her reputation of holiness by involving Her in the punishment of the law; yet at the same time
‘I cannot stand by and witness the consequences of Her pregnancy.
‘I will leave Her now, and commit myself to the providence of the Lord, Who governs me.’
He then resolved to depart during the night, and in order to prepare for his journey he packed some clothes and other trifles into a small bundle.
Having also claimed some wages due him for his work, he retired to rest with the intention of leaving at midnight.
But, on account of the strangeness of his undertaking, and because he was in the habit of commending his intentions to God in prayer, after he had come to this resolve he spoke to the Lord:
‘Highest and eternal God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
‘Thou true and only refuge of the poor and afflicted, the grief and tribulation of my heart are well known to Thy clemency.
‘Thou knowest also, O Lord (although I am unworthy), that I am innocent of that which causes my sorrow, and Thou likewise art aware of the infamy and danger consequent upon the condition of my Spouse.
‘I do not believe Her an adulteress, because I see in Her great virtue and perfection;
‘yet I certainly see Her pregnant.
‘I do not know by whom or how it was caused; and therefore I find no way to restore my peace.
In order to choose the least evil I will withdraw from Her and seek a place where no one knows me and, resigning myself to Thy Providence, I will pass my life in a desert.
‘Do not forsake me, my Lord and eternal God, since I desire solely Thy honor and service.’
‘Do not forsake me, my Lord and eternal God, since I desire solely Thy honor and service.’
Dear Saint Joseph, pray for us and teach us how to pray to our Lord as you prayed during your holy pilgrimage on this earth. Amen.
Saint Joseph prostrated himself on the ground and made a vow to go to the temple of Jerusalem and offer up a part of the small sum of money which he had provided for his journey, in order that…
God might help and protect Mary his Spouse from the calamities of men and free Her from all misfortune;
for great was the uprightness of that man of God, and the esteem in which he held the heavenly Lady.
After this prayer he composed himself for a short sleep with the intention of departing in secret and at midnight from his Spouse.
During this sleep, however… the great Princess of Heaven, (assured by the Divine promise), observed from her retirement all that Saint Joseph was preparing to do; for the Almighty showed it to Her.
And, hearing the vow which he made for Her welfare, and seeing the small bundle and the poor provision he prepared for his journey, She was filled with tender compassion and prayed anew for him, giving praise and thanks to the Lord for His Providence in guiding the actions of men beyond all human power of comprehension.
His Majesty so ordained events, that both most holy Mary and Saint Joseph should be brought to the utmost reach of interior sorrow.
For besides the merits of this prolonged martyrdom they would gain the admirable and precious blessing of the Divine Consolation deserved thereby.
Although the great Lady persevered in the belief and hope of a seasonable intervention of the Lord, and therefore remained silent in order not to reveal the sacrament, concerning the disclosure of which the King had given Her no command; yet
She was much afflicted by the resolve of Saint Joseph to leave Her; because She reflected upon the great inconvenience of being alone, without a companion and a protector, on whom She could rely for consolation and support in the natural order;
for She well knew that She could not expect all to proceed according to the supernatural and miraculous. Yet all Her sighs could not prevent Her from exercising the most exalted virtues with a magnanimous spirit, such as:
patience in bearing Her afflictions and the suspicions of Saint Joseph and its results;
prudence, in withholding the disclosure of the mystery on account of its greatness;
silence, in signalizing Herself as a woman who knew how to refrain from speaking about that which so many human reasons urged Her to make known;
forbearance and humility, in silently submitting to the suspicions of Saint Joseph.
Many other virtues did She exercise in this trouble in a wonderful manner; by which She taught us to hope in the Almighty for our deliverance in the greatest tribulations.
Imprimatur: † Edwin V. Byrne, D.D., Archbishop of Santa Fe, 9 February 1949 A.D.