Venerable Sister Mary of Jesus (also known as ‘Mother Mary of Agreda,’ was Superioress of the convent of The Immaculate Conception in the town of Agreda, Spain) was chosen by God to record the Divine History And Life Of The Virgin Mother Of God for the new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church and the encouragement of men.
The Divine Manifestations that were revealed to Venerable Mary of Agreda were published in a work called: The Mystical City of God¹.
In Part 1 of this three-part posting we introduced the virtues and trials of the Blessed Virgin’s husband: the chaste and pure Saint Joseph.
Let us ponder further Saint Joseph’s internal disquiet and his great anguish in discovering the pregnancy of the Virgin Mary:
The heart of Saint Joseph, filled with these painful considerations, found itself as it were exposed to the thrusts of many sharp-edged swords,
without any other refuge than the full confidence which he had in his Spouse.
But as all outward signs confirmed the correctness of his observations, there was no escape from these tormenting thoughts, and
as he did not dare to communicate about his grievous affliction with anybody, he found himself
surrounded by the sorrows of death (Psalm 17 verse 5: The sorrows of death surrounded me: and the torrents of iniquity troubled me [circumdederunt me funes mortis et torrentes diabuli terruerunt me]), and
he experienced in himself the saying of the Scriptures, that: ‘Jealousy is hard as hell’ [Canticle 8 verse 6: dura sicut inferus aemulatio].
When he attempted to follow out these thoughts in solitude, grief suspended his faculties.
If his thoughts touched upon the wrong, which his senses led him to suspect, they…
melted away as the ice before the sun, or vanished like the dust before the wind, as soon as he remembered the well-tried holiness of his modest and circumspect Spouse.
If he tried to suspend the workings of his chaste love, he could not;
for She continued to present Herself to his thoughts as the most worthy object of his love, and the hidden truth of her fidelity had more power of attracting his love than the deceitful appearances of infidelity to destroy it.
The strong and sure bond which truth, reason and justice had woven about her fidelity could not be broken.
He found no suitable occasion of opening his mind to his heavenly Spouse, nor did her serene and heavenly equanimity seem to invite him to such an explanation.
Oh Saint Joseph, most faithful helper in the great plan of Redemption, pray for us and for all those who agonize over the course of action they should take in order to please God, and to conform their will with God’s, especially when their bodily senses point to one path while their ‘eyes of Faith and reason’ point to another.
Oh Saint Joseph, most worthy spouse of the Virgin Mother, pray for us.
Although he could not but admit the change in her shape, yet he could not conceive how her purity and holiness could be compatible with any failing such as this change might indicate.
For it seemed impossible to him to connect such a sin with One who manifested such chastity, tranquility and holy discretion, and such united harmony of all graces and virtues in her daily life.
Hail Joseph, guardian of holy virgins, pray for us.
Hail Joseph, example of meekness and patience.
Hail Joseph, mirror of humility and obedience.
Blessed art thou among all men.
And blessed are thine eyes, which have seen what thou hast seen.
And blessed are thine ears, which have heard what thou hast heard.
And blessed is thy heart, kindled with most ardent love.
And blessed be the Eternal Father, Who chose thee.
And blessed be the Son, Who loved thee.
And blessed be the Holy Spirit, Who sanctified thee.
And blessed be Mary, thy Spouse, who loved thee as a spouse and a brother.
And blessed be the Angel who guarded thee.
And blessed forever be all who bless thee and who love thee.
In the midst of these tormenting anxieties the holy Spouse Joseph appealed to the tribunal of the Lord in prayer and placing himself in His presence, he said:
‘Most high Lord and God,
my desires and sighs are not unknown to Thee.
I find myself cast about by the violent waves of sorrow which through my senses have come to afflict my heart.
I have given myself over with entire confidence to the Spouse whom thou hast given me.
I have confided entirely in Her holiness; and the signs of this unexpected change in Her are giving rise to tormenting and fearful doubts lest my confidence be misplaced.
Nothing have I until now seen in Her which could give occasion for any doubt in Her modesty and Her extraordinary virtue; yet at the same time I cannot deny that She is pregnant.
To think that She has been unfaithful to me, and has offended Thee, would be temerity in view of such rare purity and holiness:
to deny what my own eyes perceive is impossible.
But it is not impossible that I die of grief, unless there is some mystery hidden beneath it which I cannot yet fathom.
Reason proclaims Her as blameless, while the senses accuse Her.
She conceals from me the cause of Her pregnancy, while I have it before my eyes.
What shall I do?
We both have come to an agreement concerning our vows of chastity, and we have both promised to keep them for Thy glory;
if it could be possible that She has violated her fidelity toward Thee and toward me, I would defend Thy honor and would forget mine for love of Thee.
Yet how could She preserve such purity and holiness in all other things if She had committed so grave a crime in this?
And on the other hand, why does She, who is so holy and prudent, conceal this matter from me?
I withhold and defer my judgment.
Not being able to penetrate to the cause of what I see, I pour out in Thy presence my afflicted soul, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Receive my tears as an acceptable sacrifice; and
if my sins merit Thy indignation let Thy own clemency and kindness move Thee not to despise my excruciating sorrow.
I do not believe that Mary has offended Thee; yet much less can I presume that there is a mystery of which I, as her Spouse, am not to be informed.
Govern Thou my mind and heart by Thy divine light, in order that I may know and fulfill that which is most pleasing to Thee.’
Saint Joseph persevered in this kind of prayer, adding many more affectionate petitions; for even though he conjectured that there must be some mystery in the pregnancy of the most holy Mary hidden from him, he could not find assurance therein.
This thought had no greater force to exculpate most holy Mary than the other reasons found upon Her holiness; and therefore the idea that the most holy Queen might be the Mother of the Messias did not come to his mind.
If at times he drove away his conjectures, they would return in greater number and with more urgent force of evidence.
Thus he was cast about on the turbulent waves of doubt.
From sheer exhaustion he would at times fall into a condition of mind wherein he could find neither an anchor or certainty for his doubts, nor tranquility for his heart, nor any standard by which he could direct his course.
his forbearance under this torment was so great that it is an evident proof of his great discretion and holiness, and that it made him worthy of the singular blessing which awaited him.
¹Imprimatur: † Edwin V. Byrne, D.D., Archbishop of Santa Fe, 9 February 1949 A.D.
Dear St. Joseph, pray for us and teach us how to pray like you did (while you lived on this earth) and if we are poor and slow and unteachable students kindly take our prayers and present them yourself to our Lord in a manner that you know is pleasing to Him. Amen.