How did St. Joseph become the worthy spouse of Mary, the good and just man par excellence? It was not by accident, rather he schooled in the wisdom of the Old Testament.
A worker, brought up among rough men, dealing with low prices, low wages and economically difficulties, he perfected his craft without wavering from the paths of God’s law. In a world without police, he had to know how to survive among the powerful and unscrupulous, to discern intentions, avoid fights but defend the innocent and the widow while never departing from justice.
Indeed, the books of Wisdom tell us the story of Joseph’s young manhood by painting in great detail the spiritual ideals every young man was to make his own and follow.
By actual grace and the sublimity of his vocation, we know that St. Joseph followed these ideals unto the very worthiness of the greatest Saint in heaven. To get at the marrow of his training we must hold to the following. The pathway to wisdom must be through instruction, trials, self-discipline, and afflictions of all kinds within the parameters of obeying God’s law with a real desire for Justice. (Ecclesiasticus or Sirach 1:4,30, 4:14, 6:18,24) Let us then, apply these steps of St. Joseph’s spiritual training to ourselves.
Instruction is the catechism and the dogmatic teaching of the Church but must also include the lives of the Saints. Whoever neglects this latter, will inevitably become a victim of bad example or of his own laziness. But St. Joseph teaches that it should be all done by and for Mary, for She is the Seat of Wisdom who carried Christ to the world and Who will bring us to Him, teaching us the virtues of Her son.
Trials are essentially the temptations of our life. Every time we are tempted, asked a tough question, or put in difficult circumstances, our virtue and spiritual arsenal are put to the test, strained to their limits and fully exercised. We fail or we triumph. In failure, do we rise again to the battle? In victory do we fall again by pride, or stock up resources for future trials? By persevering in rising from falls and by remaining profoundly rooted in humility, we will gradually become worthy of Wisdom.
Self-discipline for St. Joseph was sticking to the purity that he proposed to keep and never to allow his soul to be soiled by any fault. His self-discipline consisted in careful attention to his duty and in studious avoidance of all occasions of sin. He was rewarded by companion ship with Mary.
Afflictions of all kinds are the lot of any just man who proposes to fight unto death for justice. This is firstly in one’s own soul by obeying God’s law and preferring death to sin. It is secondly in striving to make God’s honor and religious service respected in the world by all men.
This did not fall to St. Joseph to perform because his task was to safe-guard Jesus and Mary in the hidden life. But this task of putting God’s justice in the world is ours. Let us but make real public efforts for God’s law and afflictions will be our reward.
The gist of this is to distance ourselves from world and put on the new man formed in Joseph-like discipline. For the love of Mary and in imitation of St. Joseph, let us put aside the media and make God’s justice, first personal then social, the main conversation of our lives.