The Church always honors St. Joseph with Mary and Jesus, especially during the Christmas solemnities. This day’s Gospel is indeed that of December 24th. A Coptic calendar tells us that St. Joseph was liturgically honored in a special way on July 20th, from the eight century. At the end of the fifteenth century his feast was kept on March 19th and in 1621 Gregory XV extended it to the whole Church. In 1870 Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph protector of the universal Church.
This Saint “of the royal race of David” was a just man (Gospel). As by his marriage with the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph has certain rights over the blessed fruit of the virginal womb of his spouse a moral affinity exists between him and Jesus. He exercised over the Child-God a certain paternal authority, which the Preface of St. joseph delicately alludes to as that of a foster-father. Without having begotten Jesus, St. Joseph by the bonds which unite him to Mary, is legally and morally the Father of the Son of the Blessed Virgin.
It follows that we must honor by a special homage this dignity of supernatural excellence of St. Joseph. “In the family of Nazareth”, says Cornelius à Lapide, “were the three greatest and most excellent persons in the world. Wherefore to Christ is due the divine worship, to the Virgin a higher worship than to Saint’s and to St Joseph the full worship due to Saints” God revealed to him the mystery of the Incarnation (ibid) and “chose him among all (Epistle) to commit to his care the Incarnate Word and the Virginity of Mary.”
The hymn of Lauds says that: “Christ and the Virgin were with him at his last hour and watched by him their faces gleaming with sweet serenity.” St. Joseph went to heaven for ever to enjoy the beatific vision of the Word whose humanity he had so long and so closely contemplated on earth. This Saint is therefore justly considered the patron and model of interior and contemplative souls. And in the heavenly home St. Joseph has a powerful influence over the heart of the Son of his most blessed Spouse (Collect).
Let us imitate at this holy season the purity, humility, the spirit of prayer and meditation of Joseph at Nazareth.
At present there are two major feasts in his honor. On March 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption, while on May 1 we honor him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order.
From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger
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