In the 1600’s, an old French Jesuit priest was asked how to continue advancing towards spiritual perfection. His advice was to take as their model of humility Jesus Christ, as their model of purity the Blessed Virgin, and as their model of the interior life St. Joseph. When they asked him to expand on St. Joseph, here is the advice he gave.
Every day, in honour of St. Joseph, observe these 4 short exercises, from which he drew wonderful profit. The first two exercises were in the morning, and the other two for after dinner.
1.) Raise yourself in spirit to the heart of St. Joseph
Consider how faithful St. Joseph was to the inspirations of grace. (Read Matthew 1:18-25). Then turn your eyes inward on your own heart, to discover your own want of fidelity, make a plan to actively respond to all graces given that day, and excite yourself to perseverance.
2.) Interior life with external occupations
Reflect on how perfectly St. Joseph reconciled the interior life with his external occupations. Then, turn to observe yourself and your own occupations. When do you lose your patience or what activities lead you to lose your peace? How long do you go throughout the day without thinking of your Creator? By means of this exercise the priest made such progess, that towards the close of his life he remained in an uninterrupted state of interior recollection; and the attention which he paid to external things, instead of weakening his union with God, served rather to strengthen it.
3.) The spirit of St. Joseph as a spouse
The third was, to accompany in spirit St. Joseph, as the spouse of the Blessed Virgin, and to meditate on the wonderful knowledge which he had enjoyed of her virginity and maternity, in consequence of the humble submission with which he received the announcement of the angel respecting the mystery of the Incarnation. By this exercise, the priest excited himself to love St. Joseph for his love of his most holy spouse. Ponder the opportunities missed to show love towards your spouse or future spouse (if you are not married, you should be praying for the discernment of your vocation and praying/fasting for your future spouse.)
4.) Participation in the love of the Divine Child
The fourth was, to figure to himself the adoration and homage of love and gratitude which St. Joseph paid to the Holy Child Jesus, and to beg to participate therein, that he might adore and love the Divine Child with all the sentiments of the deepest reverence and the tenderest love of which he was capable.
St. Joseph is the model for men in many virtues:
- Charity: Denying himself and his reputation for the love of his wife and child.
- Humility: what a unique circumstance his wife got pregnant (understatement!).
- Obedience: God told him in the middle of the night to travel a long distance with his wife who was in her third trimester.
- Focus and detailed oriented: the work of his hands points straight back to the craftsmanship of his creator (metaphor alert!).
The Jesuit priest wished to carry with him to the grave some tokens of his devotion to this great saint and requested that an image of his beloved patron might be put with him in his coffin.
Saint Joseph – Pray for us!