St. Joseph is considered the Patron or Protector of the Universal Church. As such, his role is seemingly more important now than ever before—for the Church today faces unprecedented opposition from the devil and his agents. Individual Catholics who take their faith seriously are inevitably caught up in this intensifying spiritual battle, making it increasingly urgent that we learn from, and call upon, the great foster-father of Jesus.
Lessons from St. Joseph’s Life
The New Testament tells us very little about St. Joseph, but Heaven has provided us— by means of private revelation—much more information about him. In the mid-1700s a Benedictine abbess in Italy, Sister Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., was allegedly given many visions of the saint’s life. Space precludes a thorough description of these revelations, but several important lessons drawn from them can be presented here. (A summary of the book based on these revelations, The Life of St. Joseph, can be found in my own book With Mary to Jesus—Queenship Publishing, 2010).
First of all, Joseph was known for his great humility. Despite his own holiness, he never considered himself worthy of being the husband of Mary, the Mother of the Savior; after they were married, he in his meekness wanted to defer to her in all things—but she wisely insisted he exercise the authority proper to his role as husband. Joseph was also in awe of Jesus, and humbly considered himself His servant—though Our Lord, of course, always acknowledged His foster-father’s authority, and obeyed him and Mary in all things. All three members of the Holy Family were also perfectly humble in their interactions with the people of Nazareth; Joseph in particular remained conscious of his human limitations, and never compared himself favorably with others.
A second lesson from Joseph’s life involved his selflessness. The saint was always eager to be of service to others—especially Mary and Jesus, but also everyone else around him. He never charged for his carpentry work, but let his customers decide how much, if anything, to pay him; furthermore, he kept only the bare minimum of his earnings for his family, and—with Mary’s agreement—gave away the rest as alms. Joseph was also sought out for his excellent advice; being known for his wisdom and piety, many persons sought his guidance in their affairs, and he was forever willing to be of service in whatever way he could.
Another lesson involves the saint’s compassion. Joseph was always solicitous toward others in need, and he had a particular concern for the dying—so much so that he merited the immeasurable consolation of the presence and assistance of Jesus and Mary when his own time came to pass from this world. Our Lord may well have been thinking of Joseph when He told the parable of the Good Samaritan—for caring for someone in dire need was entirely characteristic of Jesus’ foster-father.
St. Joseph’s life also demonstrates a profound openness to divine guidance. Scripture tells us that on several occasions Joseph received heavenly-inspired dreams, and in each case, he obeyed these instructions without hesitation or doubt. The saint was deeply conscious of being a servant of the Most High, and desired nothing more than to know and do God’s Will.
A final lesson involves St. Joseph’s patience and resignation in suffering. As a young man, he always responded to unkindness or mistreatment with prayerful silence, and during times of spiritual dryness later in life, he continued to trust in God’s love, while freely accepting whatever crosses might come to him. During his final days, as his health rapidly declined, Joseph never complained—in part because he didn’t want to worry or inconvenience his wife and foster-Son. Jesus and Mary, however, were soon aware of his suffering, and their loving presence brought him great peace, allowing him to die a holy and happy death.
St. Joseph’s humility, selflessness, compassion, openness to God’s Will, and patience in suffering, are all wonderful examples for us today. These, of course, are not easy virtues to practice—but our prayers to this great saint, seeking his assistance and asking help in imitating his example, will surely not go unanswered.
Past Apparitions of St. Joseph
Near the town of Cotignac in France in 1660, a shepherd was suffering greatly from the summer heat when a tall man suddenly appeared next to him, pointed to a large rock, and said, “I am Joseph. Lift the rock and you will drink.” After some initial hesitation, the shepherd moved the rock, and a stream of clear, fresh water came forth. Within a few hours, water flowed in abundance, and as word of this event spread, pilgrims began coming to the spring, and a number of miraculous healings occurred at the site.
In the 16th century two Franciscan priests were shipwrecked off the coast of Flanders as a result of a terrible storm. For three days they clung to a plank from the sunken ship, praying to St. Joseph and begging his assistance. On the third day the saint himself appeared to them above the waves and, to their profound gratitude, miraculously led them to safety.
St. Joseph was part of the 1879 apparition at Knock, Ireland. On the evening of August 21, fifteen people beheld a silent vision of Our Lady (wearing a golden crown), St. John (wearing a bishop’s mitre and holding a large Bible), and St. Joseph (robed in white). Behind them was a simple altar with a cross standing upon it, and at the foot of the cross was a Lamb. Joseph seemed to be bowing in respect toward Our Lady, while at the same time adoring the Lamb—thereby silently suggesting the importance of worshipping Jesus and honoring His Mother.
In the 13th century, the great mystic St. Gertrude related, “I saw Heaven opened and St. Joseph sitting upon a magnificent throne. I felt myself wonderfully affected when, each time his name was mentioned, all the Saints made a profound inclination toward him, showing by the serenity and sweetness of their looks that they rejoiced with him on account of his exalted dignity.” Blessed Catherine of St. Augustin was granted a similar vision of the saint in the 17th century, saying, “The Eternal Father then not only set him over a great many people, but even said to him, ‘Faithful servant! Since you were the steward of My house on earth, I want you to command here and have all power.’ The Son Himself gave [Joseph] power over Him, all King of Glory that He was, and wanted him to have the honor of commanding Him.”
A similar vision was allegedly granted to Sister Mary Mildred Ephrem in 1958; as she wrote, “I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering over [St. Joseph’s] head.
Standing sideways, facing each other, were two angels, one on the right, the other on the left. Each carried what appeared to be a small pillow in a satin covering, the pillow on the right bearing a gold crown, the one on the left, a gold scepter. . . . Then I heard these words: ‘Thus should he be honored whom the King desires to honor.’”
Many Catholics are familiar with Our Lady’s famous apparitions at Fatima in 1917— but few remember that St. Joseph was also present at the final apparition on October 13. As Sister Lucia later recounted, “After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus [in his arms] and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.” As head of the Holy Family, Joseph was always intimately involved with Mary and Jesus during his earthly life—and as this apparition reminds us, this remains true now that he experiences heavenly glory. Thus, the Church recommends devotion to St. Joseph as a powerful source of spiritual assistance and protection—and one that is surely very pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady.
Messages from the Apparitions at Itapiranga
In a series of Church-approved apparitions at Itapiranga, Brazil, in the 1990s, a young man named Edson Glauber received numerous visions of Our Lady and of St. Joseph. The holy spouse of Mary told the visionary many things about his heavenly role in our times, including, “My beloved Son, God, Our Lord, wishes to give all humanity countless graces, through devotion to my Heart.” Furthermore, St. Joseph continued, “My Chaste Heart, by the impulse of love, searches all ways to save all men from sin. My Son Jesus, through my Heart, wishes to impart to all men His divine blessings.” Indeed, as the head of the Holy Family explained, “I am St. Joseph, and my name means ‘God will grow,’ because I grew every day in grace and divine virtues. Through devotion to my Chaste Heart many souls will be saved from the hands of the devil.”
Aid in Our War Against the Enemy
St. Joseph has much to tell us about Satan’s war against humanity in our own times. For instance, “The means that [the devil] most utilizes are the sins against holy purity, because purity is one of the virtues most beloved by God, and in this way Satan desires to destroy the image of God present in each creature through this virtue. And it is because of this, that God asks all humanity to have devotion to my Chaste Heart; He wants to give men the grace to overcome the temptations and attacks of the devil in their day-to-day lives.”
In this regard, St. Joseph assures us, “The invocation of my name is enough to make demons flee! I promise to all the faithful [who] honor my most Chaste Heart with faith and love, the grace to live with holy purity of soul and body and the strength to resist all attacks and temptations by the devil. I myself will protect you. This grace is not only destined for those who honor this Heart of mine, but also for all their family members who are in need of divine help.” Furthermore, just as Our Lady invites her children to come under her mantle of protection, so St. Joseph urges sinners to seek his assistance. As he stated to the visionary, “Now, I say to all sinners: do not be afraid of the devil and do not despair of your crimes, but come throw yourselves in my arms and take refuge in my Heart so that you may receive all graces for your eternal salvation.”
A Role Model in Our Own Struggles
In the messages given to Edson Glauber, St. Joseph spoke at length of his own struggles in life and of how they can inspire us today. For instance, “The Heavenly Father granted me the honor of representing Him, in this world, to take care of His Divine and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. My Heart was surprised by so much dignity; I felt incapable and undeserving of such a great favor and benefit, but I put all in the hands of the Lord and, as His servant, I was ready to do His Holy Will.”
Speaking of Herod’s desire to murder the infant Jesus, St. Joseph continued, “My Heart went through great tribulation and suffering because of the great danger my Son Jesus suffered, but our Heavenly Father did not abandon us in that moment; He sent His messenger angel to direct me and what attitude to take in those difficult moments of suffering. Because of this, my son, tell all sinners not to despair in the great dangers of life and in the dangers of losing one’s soul.”
Because of his own experiences, St. Joseph is able to understand our sufferings and struggles. As he told Edson Glauber, “My son, look at how much I suffered beside my Son Jesus and my Spouse the Blessed Virgin Mary! Like I have told you, I received from God the mission to be the guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. My Heart was anguished because we did not live in the best of conditions in life, though I searched for a way to give a dignified life to the Son of the Most High. The only means I had to bring home our daily bread was through my work as a carpenter. Work did not always have its adequate profit. Life had its problems, but I always trusted in Divine Providence. . . . My Heart would become distressed because I felt I was not giving my Son Jesus a dignified life. God permitted me to go through this so that I would grow to trust in His Divine Providence. The virtue of humility would adorn my soul and I would be an example to all men and workers, so that they would also fulfill their duties and work with patience and love.”
St. Joseph Promises His Assistance
The messages from the Itapiranga apparitions include many powerful promises of St. Joseph’s assistance to those who call upon him. Speaking of today’s troubled world, the saint told the visionary, “In these last times, humanity follows increasingly obstinate in their crimes, because what matters most for [men] are the pleasures of worldly things, rather than the love of God and His Commandments. But God’s Justice is close at hand in a way never seen before, and will come about suddenly upon the whole world.”
Therefore, the saint continued, “Tell all those that honor this Chaste Heart of mine they will receive the grace of my protection from all evils and dangers. For those who surrender to me will not be slaughtered by misfortunes, by wars, hunger, by diseases and other calamities; they will have my Heart as a refuge for their protection. Here, in my Heart, all will be protected against the Divine Justice in the days that will come. All who consecrate themselves to my Heart, honoring it, will be looked upon by my Son Jesus with eyes of mercy. Jesus will pour out His love and will take to the glory of His Kingdom all those I put in my Heart.”
The great saint further promised, “To all who honor this Heart of mine and trust in me and in my intercession, I promise they will not be abandoned in their difficulties and in the trials of life. I will ask Our Lord to help them with His Divine Providence in their material and spiritual problems.” Moreover, the saint said, “I will give them the graces to be able to resolve the most difficult problems and urgent necessities, that to the eyes of man may seem impossible, but that, through my intercession to God, will be possible. I grant the graces of my Heart to all sinners so they may convert.”
St. Joseph’s loving concern for sinners is also evident in these reassuring words: “I promise all who will trust in my most pure, Chaste Heart, devoutly honoring it, the grace to be consoled by me in their greatest afflictions of the soul and in the danger of judgment, when by misfortune [they] lose Divine Grace because of their grave sins. To these sinners, who have recourse to me, I promise the graces of my Heart for the purpose of amendment, of repentance and of sincere contrition for their sins.”
Lastly, St. Joseph offers us his assistance in obtaining a happy death: “I promise to all [who] honor this Most Chaste Heart of mine and who do here on earth good deeds in favor of the most needy, especially of the sick and dying for whom I am a consoler and protector, to receive in the last moment of their lives the grace of a good death. I myself will be to these souls their petitioner to my Son Jesus, and, together with my Spouse, Most Holy Mary, we will console them in their last hours here on earth with our holy presence, and they will rest in the peace of our Hearts.”
Mary and Joseph Together Intercede for Us
As the Queen of Heaven, Our Lady freely chooses to involve her holy spouse in her mission of assisting and interceding for her children on earth. Speaking to Edson Glauber, the Virgin Mary said, “I will be at the side of each son and daughter of mine, helping and comforting them with a Mother’s Heart, just as I helped and comforted my Most Chaste Spouse Joseph in this world. To those who ask of his Heart with trust, I promise to intercede before the Eternal Father, my Divine Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I will obtain for them, from God, the grace to reach perfect sanctity in the virtues of St. Joseph, this way reaching the perfect love in which he lived. Men will learn to love my Son Jesus and myself with the same love as my Most Chaste Spouse Joseph, receiving the most pure love from our Hearts.”
That he might obtain for us an increase of virtue, St. Joseph requests that we practice the “First Wednesday” devotion. As he explained to the visionary, “On every first Wednesday of the month, my Chase Heart pours numerous graces on all who rely on my intercession. On these Wednesdays, men will not receive a shower of simple graces, but very strong torrents of extraordinary graces! I will share them with those who honor me and rely on me, all the blessings, all the virtues, and all the love I received from my Divine Son Jesus and my Spouse the Blessed Virgin Mary while still living in this world, and all the graces that I continue to receive in the glory of paradise.”
St. Joseph: Model for Families
The Book Heaven’s Messages for the Family consists of many teachings from St. Joseph and the archangels Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, allegedly given to Janie Garza, a devout Catholic wife and mother from Texas.
Because our society often downgrades the role of husbands and fathers, the holy spouse of Our Lady places a particular emphasis on this calling, stating that a husband must be chaste (giving his love physically only to his wife). Also, he must pray for purity, for humility, and for perseverance in fulfilling his duties. According to St. Joseph, “A husband must look towards God to send him His Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. He must pray for wisdom and discernment, in order that he may stay on God’s level path that leads towards Heaven.” A husband plays a vitally important role in the life of his family, for “God looks to him to take care of his family, to love his wife with gentleness and tenderness and to be a model for his children, especially his sons. The role of the husband is to love his wife and his family like Christ loves the Church.”
Our Lord’s foster father will certainly help Catholic families in today’s world—if they allow it. As he says, “I, St. Joseph, want to be invited into every home in the world. I want to help all families, but I cannot if they don’t have devotion to me. . . . I, St. Joseph, especially invite all husbands to allow me to help them with their role as head of their family. I, St. Joseph, want to help husbands in the world who are so distant from God. I want to help the husbands discover how important their role is, and how many blessings God wants to give them. I, St. Joseph, want to help the husbands to manage their lives with God’s love. I want to help them find jobs, to help them in their finances and to help them in everything.”
In addition to an emphasis on the role of husbands, St. Joseph’s messages to Janie Garza also touch upon other important issues affecting families today. For instance, the saint notes that “Forgiveness and love are lacking in many families throughout the world. If the family would put more effort into loving and forgiving one another, then God could help them, but families do not pray and ask God’s help. They allow their quarrels to carry them farther and farther from God.”
As an antidote to this unholy and unhealthy situation, St. Joseph teaches, “The family must live by the Commandments of God. They must pray together daily and support one another. Spouses must pray and work together to have a strong family foundation. Every day, spouses, along with their children, must begin their day in prayer before they leave their homes. Spouses must ask God’s blessing and safety upon their children, and children must pray for their parents as well.”
In particular, St. Joseph recommends a devotion to his beloved Spouse: “All her children must allow Most Holy Mary to lead them as their gentle Mother without being troubled or worried. Now is the time for her children to become more and more accustomed to trusting in her Most Immaculate Heart and to remain in constant prayer with their heavenly Mother. Those who truly embrace her Immaculate Heart will be able to live without fear.”
St. Joseph: Model for the Church
Our Lady personally spoke to an alleged visionary personally known to me—whom I shall call Elaine—of the need for the Church to rely on the intercession and protection of St. Joseph.
The Blessed Virgin said, “When God created St. Joseph, He set into his bosom a heart for the Church. It is with this love that he helped to raise the Child Jesus. Now, from Heaven, it is with this same love that he assists the Church and protects her. Dear Church: fear not! Fall into the arms of St. Joseph in your need. He will be quick to aid you.” After noting that our culture discourages a spirit of quiet reflection, Mary continued, “St. Joseph is quiet, dutiful, and full of love. Spend time getting to know him, dear Church. Become acquainted with silence, my dear children. Spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. Ask Jesus and St. Joseph to help you learn to ‘be’ with people. This will be a good lesson for the ‘me generation’ to learn.”
According to Our Lady, St. Joseph took his duties as a husband and father very seriously—and now, “from Heaven, he is dutiful towards you, O Church! Yet, very few are the number of my children, who turn to him in their needs.” This is especially sad, and potentially even tragic, because the family is under relentless satanic attack.
After seeing a vision during Mass of the Hearts of the Holy Family—specifically, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph—Elaine was told by the Blessed Mother, “God would like devotion to the Holy Family to be reestablished in His Church. He may use this devotion to heal the wounds in the human family on earth today.”
St. Joseph: A Help for Our Times
Part of the genius of Catholicism is the vast number and types of spiritual assistance the Church provides for its members: Scripture, Tradition, the Sacraments, the Magisterium (teaching authority), the wisdom and example of the saints, apparitions and private revelations, and a wide variety of prayers and devotions. Some of these are “hidden treasures,” deserving of a more widespread knowledge and use—including a devotion to one of history’s greatest saints, the foster father of Jesus.
Men in particular have much to gain from honoring and imitating St. Joseph, but all members of the Church can receive great spiritual benefits and assistance by a devotion to the holy spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his quiet, humble way, St. Joseph continues to defend the Church from the attacks of the Evil One—and he is quite willing to help us as individual Catholics, if only we ask.
During his earthly life, Joseph was “a faithful and prudent steward, whom the Lord set over His household” (cf. Lk. 12:42). This great saint is always ready to play a similar role on behalf of our families and homes today. In all our spiritual and temporal needs, the Church advises us, “Go to Joseph” (cf. Gen. 41:55)—for God has chosen to work through him in a special way during these troubled and uncertain times.