Thursday, September 18, 2014

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Confessor

While, in France, the rising spirit of Jansenism was driving God from the hearts of the people, a humble son of St. Francis, in Southern Italy, was showing how easily love may span the distance between earth and heaven. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself, said Our Lord; and time has proved it to be the most universal of his prophecies. On the feast of the holy Cross, we witnessed its truth, even in the domain of social and political claims. We shall experience it in our very bodies on the great day, when we shall be taken up in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air. But Joseph of Cupertino had experience of it without waiting for the resurrection: innumerable witnesses have borne testimony to his life of continual ecstasies, wherein he was frequently seen raised high in the air. And these facts took place in what men are pleased to call the noonday of history.

Let us read the account of him given by holy Church.

Josephus a Cupertino, oppido in Salentis diœcesis Neritnensis, anno reparatæ salutis millesimo sexcentesimo tertio, piis ibidem parentibus ortus, Deique amore præventus, pueritiam atque adolescentiam summa cum simplicitate morumque innocentia transegit. A diuturno molestoque morbo patientissime tolerato, Deiparæ Virginis ope liberatus, se totum pietatis operibus ac excolendis virtutibus dedit: utque Deo ad majora vocanti se intimius conjungeret, Ordini seraphico nomen dare constituit. Post varios eventus voti tandem compos factus, apud Minores Conventuales in cœnobio Cryptulæ, inter laicos primum ob litterarum imperitiam, deinde inter clericos divina dispositione connumeratus est. Sacerdotio post solemnia vota initiatus, perfectius sibi vitæ institutum proposuit. Quamobrem mundanis quibuscumque affectibus, terrenisque rebus pene ad vitam necessariis illico a se abdicatis, ciliciis, flagellis, catenis, omni demum asperitatum ac pœnarum genere corpus afflixit; spiritum vero sanctæ orationis altissimæque contemplationis assiduitate dulciter enutrivit. Hinc factum est, ut caritas Dei, quæ jam erat in ejus corde a prima ætate diffusa, miro planeque singulari modo in dies coruscaverit.

Joseph was born of pious parents at Cupertino, a town of the Salentines in the diocese of Nardo, in the year of salvation one thousand six hundred and three. Prevented with the love of God, he spent his boyhood and youth in the greatest simplicity and innocence. The Virgin Mother of God delivered him from a long and painful malady, which he had borne with the greatest patience; whereupon he devoted himself entirely to works of piety and the practice of virtue. But God called him to something higher; and in order to attain to closer union with him, Joseph determined to enter the Seraphic Order. After several trials he obtained his desire, and was admitted among the Minor Conventuals in the convent called Grotella, first as a lay-brother, on account of his lack of learning; but afterwards, God so disposing, he was raised to the rank of a cleric. After making his solemn Vows he was ordained Priest, and began a new life of greater perfection. Utterly renouncing all earthly affections and everything of this world almost to the very necessaries of life, he afflicted his body with hairshirts, chains, disciplines, and every kind of austerity and penance; while he assiduously nourished his spirit with the sweetness of holy prayer, and the highest contemplation. By this means, the love of God, which had been poured out in his heart from his childhood, daily increased in a most wonderful manner.

Eluxit præcipue ardentissima ejus caritas in extasibus ad Deum suavissimis, stupendisque raptibus, quibus frequenter afficiebatur. Mirum autem, quod alienato a sensibus animo statim ab extasi eum revocabat sola obedientia. Hanc quippe virtutem eximio studio prosequebatur, dicere solitus, se ab ea veluti cæcum circumduci, et mori potius velle, quam non obedire. Paupertatem vero seraphici patriarchæ ita æmulatus est, ut morti proximus prælato suo asserere vere potuerit, se nihil habere, quod more religiosorum resignaret. Itaque mundo sibique mortuus, vitam Jesu manifestabat in carne sua, quæ dum in aliquibus ex turpitudine obsœnum flagitium sentiebat, prodigiosum de se efflabat odorem, indicium nitidissime illius puritatis, quam, immundo spiritu vehementissimis tentationibus frustra obnubilare diu conante, servavit illæsam, tum arcta sensuum custodia, tum jugi corporis maceratione, tum denique speciali protectione purissimæ Virginis Mariæ, quam matrem suam appellare consuevit, ac veluti Matrem dulcissimam intimo cordis affectu venerabatur, eamque ab aliis venerari exoptabat, ut cum ejusdem patrocinio, sicut ipse aibat, omnia bona consequerentur.

His burning charity shone forth most remarkably in the sweet ecstasies which raised his soul to God, and the wonderful raptures he frequently experienced. Yet, marvelous to tell, however rapt he was in God, obedience would immediately recall him to the use of his senses. He was exceedingly zealous in the practice of obedience; and used to say that he was led by it like a blind man, and that he would rather die than disobey. He emulated the poverty of the seraphic patriarch to such a degree, that on his deathbed he could truthfully tell his superior he had nothing which, according to custom, he could relinquish. Thus dead to the world and to himself Joseph showed forth in his flesh the life of Jesus. While in others he perceived the vice of impurity by an evil odor, his own body exhaled a most sweet fragrance, a sign of the spotless purity which he preserved unsullied in spite of long and violent temptations from the devil. This victory he gained by strict custody of his senses, by continual mortification of the body, and especially by the protection of the most pure Virgin Mary, whom he called his Mother, and whom he venerated with tenderest affection as the sweetest of mothers, desiring to see her venerated by others, that they might, said he, together with her patronage, gain all good things.

Hæc beati Josephi sollicitudo a sua erga proximos caritate prodibat: tanto enim animarum zelo exardebat, ut omnium salutem modis omnibus instantissime procuraret. Extendens pariter caritatem suam in proximum sive pauperem, sive infirmum, sive quacumque alia tribulatione vexatum, quantum in ipso erat, illum recreabat. Nec alieni erant ab ejus caritate, qui objurgationibus, probris, omnisque generis injuriis ipsum appeterent; nam eadem patientia, mansuetudine, vultusque hilaritate talia excipiebat, qua tot inter ac tantas vicissitudines resplenduit, dum vel moderatorum Ordinis, vel sacræ Inquisitionis jussu hac illac errare versarique coactus est. Quamquam vero populi non solum, sed viri principes eximiam ejus sanctitatem et superna charismata admirarentur, ea nihilominus erat humilitate, ut magnum se peccatorem reputans Deum enixe deprecaretur, ut sua ab eo illustria dona removeret, homines vero exoraret, ut in eum locum mortuum ejus corpus injicerent, ubi memoria suiesset prorsus oblitterata. At Deus, qui ponit humiles in sublime, quique servum suum, dum viveret, cœlesti sapientia, prophetia, cordium perscrutatione, curationum gratia, ceterisque donis cumulatissime exornaverat, ejus quoque morten iis, quibus ipse antea prædixerat, loco ac tempore, anno ætatis suæ sexagesimo primo, Auximi in Piceno pretiosam reddidit, sepulchrumque gloriosum. Illum denique etiam post obitum miraculis coruscantem Benedictus Quartusdecimus Beatorum, Clemens Tertiusdecimus Sanctorum fastis adscripsit. Ejus autem Officium et Missam Clemens Quartusdecimus ejusdem Ordinis ad universam Ecclesiam extendit.

Blessed Joseph’s solicitude in this respect sprang from his love for his neighbor, for he was consumed with zeal for souls, urging him to seek the salvation of all. His love embraced the poor, the sick, and all in affliction, whom he comforted as far as lay in his power, not excluding those who pursued him with reproaches and insults, and every kind of injury. He bore all this with the same patience, sweetness, and cheerfulness of countenance as were remarked in him when he was obliged frequently to change his residence, by the command of the Superiors of his Order, or of the holy Inquisition. People and princes admired his wonderful holiness and heavenly gifts; yet, such was his humility, that, thinking himself a great sinner, he earnestly besought God to remove from him his admirable gifts; while he begged men to cast his body after death in a place where his memory might utterly perish. But God, who exalts the humble, and who had richly adorned his servant during life with heavenly wisdom, prophecy, the reading of hearts, the grace of healing, and other gifts, also rendered his death precious and his sepulcher glorious. Joseph died at the place and time he had foretold, namely, at Osimo in Picenum, in the sixty-first year of his age. He was famous for miracles after his death; and was enrolled among the Blessed by Benedict XIV, and among the Saints by Clement XIII. Clement XIV, who was of the same Order, extended his Office and Mass to the univeral Church.

While praising God for the marvelous gifts he bestowed on thee, we acknowledge that thy virtues were yet more wonderful. Otherwise thy ecstasies would be regarded with suspicion by the Church, who usually withholds her judgment until long after the world has begun to admire and applaud. Obedience, patience, and charity, increasing under trial, were incontestable guarantees for the divine authorship of these marvels, which the enemy is sometimes permitted to mimic to a certain extent. Satan may raise a Simon Magus into the air: he cannot make a humble man. O worthy son of the seraph of Assisi, may we, after thy example, be raised up, not into the air, but into those regions of true light, where far above the earth and its passions, our life, like thine, may be hidden with Christ in God!

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