JOSEPH: HUSBAND, FATHER, WORKER
Holiness is not only for Popes
With the canonization of the two great Popes, we might think, well, they were Popes anyway, so it is just right that they get to the altars.
But the Church teaches us that holiness is for everyone. Take Saint Joseph. He was no Pope. He was not a bishop. He was not even a priest. He was a plain husband and provider for his family. Church doctrine does not even tell us that he is like the Virgin Mary, conceived without original sin. He was one like us. And yet he is a saint. In fact, the Church considers him the second greatest saint that ever lived! How in the world did he do that?
His curriculum vitae does not say much. How many miracles did he perform in Nazareth? Zero. Did he do anything extraordinary? Nothing. So, what made him holy? What was his secret?
Pope Paul VI reveals the secret: “St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies; … he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things — it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic.'” (Discourse, March 19, 1969)
Pope Benedict, on March 19, 2006 explained, “It is necessary to live a spirituality that helps believers to sanctify themselves through their work, imitating St Joseph, who had to provide with his own hands for the daily needs of the Holy Family and whom, consequently, the Church holds up as Patron of workers.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “work can be a means of sanctification” (no. 2427). How can we become holy through work? There are three simple conditions. First, one has to be in God’s grace – he has to be reconciled to God first. Pope Francis once said, “How beautiful it is to be holy, how beautiful it is to be forgiven!” (Mass on March 27, 2013). Secondly, one has to do it not for selfish reasons, but for God and for others. As Saint Josemaría taught, “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary work, and you will have sanctified it.” (The Way, 359) This second requirement leads to a third: it has to be done as perfectly as possible, it has to be done with competence. The book of Leviticus repeats more than twenty times that any gift offered to God has to be unblemished, it has to be perfect. Shoddy work cannot be a worthy offering, it cannot be made holy.
Let us ask the Lord Jesus, “Lord give us your grace. Open the door to the workshop in Nazareth so that we may learn to contemplate you, together with your Holy Mother Mary and the holy Patriarch St. Joseph, whom I love and revere so dearly, the three of you dedicated to a life of work made holy. Then, Lord, our poor hearts will be enkindled; we shall seek you and find you in our daily work, which you want us to convert into a work of God, a labor of Love.” (St. Josemaría, Friends of God, 72)