In the Teresian Year
As we celebrate this year the 400th anniversary of the canonization of our mother St. Teresa (Teresian Year in Avila), let us not forget the central role of St. Joseph in the life of the Holy Mother and let us take this opportunity to honor him in a special way. Teresa dedicated ten of the seventeen monasteries she founded to St. Joseph, which gives us an idea of how important the glorious saint was in the new lifestyle initiated by Teresa.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Mary was St Joseph’s bride (Lk 1:18); the “just one”, that is, the man who follows the law of the Lord, who does what God wants… Teresa gives him many titles: advocate, blessed saint, Father, lord, glorious patriarch, master of prayer. Moreover, she does not hesitate to entrust him with a mission much more important than that normally assigned to all the saints: “God gives other saints the power to help us in this or that need; but the glorious St. Joseph, I know by experience, extends his power to all. Our Lord wants us to understand by this that, just as he was submissive in this land of exile, recognizing in him the authority of a foster father and a governor, so he is still pleased to do his will in heaven by granting all his requests…”. (Life 6, 6)
To honor him
She wanted to celebrate his feast with great solemnity. In fact, she wanted everyone to know and honor him so that they could share in the graces he lavished on her: “I tried to celebrate his feast with all possible solemnity. I would like to persuade all souls that they should devote themselves to this glorious saint. A long experience, in fact, has shown me the graces that he obtains for us from God. I do not know of a single person who has a true devotion to him and honors him with a particular cult, whom I have not seen progress in virtue. He makes souls who recommend themselves to him progress in an admirable way. For several years now, it seems to me, I have been asking him for a grace on his feast day, and I always obtain it, and when my supplication is somewhat crooked, he straightens it out for the greater good of my soul…
If I had the authority to write, I would gladly recount in all their details the favors that this glorious saint has done for me and for others. I only ask, for the love of God, that anyone who does not believe me, to try it out; they will see, by experience, how advantageous it is to recommend oneself to this glorious Patriarch and to honor him with a particular cult.” (Read all of chapter 6 of the Book of Life)
Master of contemplation
“Those in contemplation, above all, should love him with filial tenderness, they should always be attached to him; for I do not know how one can think of the Queen of the Angels during the time she lived with the Child Jesus, without thanking St. Joseph for having so effectively helped them. Let those who would not find a master to teach them prayer take this glorious saint as their master, and they will not go wrong on the way… I have never seen anyone truly devoted to him and honoring him with a special cult without advancing in virtue, because he singularly favors the spiritual progress of the souls who recommend themselves to him.”
In 1538, Therese was very ill and underwent a heavy treatment. In the book of Life, she recounts her recovery: “I suffered great torture because the treatment was too harsh for my temperament. After two months, I was exhausted because I didn’t take any food, I was satisfied with a little liquid. I was disgusted with everything. Oh my God! I wanted health to serve you better and it is from it that all the damage caused to my soul came. Seeing myself so percluded at such a tender age [she was 23 years old] and considering the state in which the doctors of the earth had reduced me, I resolved to have recourse to those of heaven, to obtain my cure. If I still wished to return to health, I nevertheless bore my illness with great joy. I thought that if with health I had to damn myself, it was better to remain so. Nevertheless, I imagined that once I recovered, I would serve God in a much more faithful way. This is our illusion. We do not surrender ourselves completely to the will of God. Yet he knows better than we do what is right for us.
So, I began my devotions, which consisted of having masses said and prayers said in a very approved manner. I took as my advocate and patron the glorious St. Joseph and I recommended myself to him. I saw very clearly that it was he, my father and my protector, who cured me of this infirmity, as he also drew me out of very great dangers where my honor and the salvation of my soul were at stake… He has shown me what he is, since, thanks to him, I was finally able to stand up, walk and be delivered from my paralysis.”
Let us continue this prayer of praise and intercession to St. Joseph, “protector of our Order“, entrusting to him especially the care of families and peoples, the exodus of migrants fleeing violence and war, the synodal march of the Church and the life of our communities.