By Susanna Bolle
Though it is the month of May, a month dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, she is leading me to her spouse, Joseph. How appropriate, as May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, a feast established by Pope Pius XII. Joseph is our brother, who we can turn to for prayer not only in our work but also in our pursuit of greater trust, humility, and love.
Joseph is often overlooked because of his holy hiddenness. We see it immediately in Matthew 1:19, “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” However, the angel Gabriel approached him in the quiet stillness of a dream to tell him that this was not to be, and like Mary, Joseph gave the Lord his own fiat by doing “as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Matthew 1:24). This testament of radical trust in God reminds me of a quotation about St. Joseph by Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet:
“It is only an extreme simplicity that can render the heart obedient and accommodating … if his intentions had been less honorable, if he had belonged only partly to God, he would not have totally surrendered himself … but his heart, which sought God in total simplicity, knowing nothing else but complete unity with him, had absolutely no difficulty in recognizing that the incorruptible virtue of his holy Spouse deserved the testimony of Heaven.”
With great masculinity and self-control, Joseph respected Mary’s call to give herself entirely to God. His love and care for Mary were part of his vocation and therefore, his path to Heaven. The love between Joseph and Mary reflects the spiritual communion that Dietrich von Hildebrand speaks of in Man and Woman: Love and the Meaning of Intimacy.
“Jesus is the theme of this relationship that for each partner the others salvation is of primary concern, that they each participate in the love of Jesus for the other … this relationship then has a glow and an ardor.”
Although von Hildebrand said this in reference to the unmarried, the same idea rings true for those who are married. The communion of goods should always be focused on Jesus, just as Joseph and Mary’s marriage was focused. St. John Paul II said in Redemptoris Custos that “it is in the Holy Family, the original ‘Church in miniature (Ecclesia domestica),’ that every Christian family must be reflected.” Because their relationship was focused on Jesus and because of the strong and virtuous role that Mary and Joseph had in Jesus’ life, their witness is one we are called to exemplify, too. We can do this by asking for both St. Joseph’s and Our Blessed Mother’s intercession, as we strive to better love those in our lives—be they our spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, or co-workers. Joseph and Mary will surely help us in our effort to give our own fiat to the Lord.
About the Author:
Susanna Bolle is the administrative assistant in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program with the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. If she isn’t at home brewing coffee or tasting wine with friends, you can follow her travels at Fiat and a Lily.