Consecration to Joseph

(Image: Photo by Sergei Sushchik on Unsplash)

9 min • June 18, 2021

During this Year of St. Joseph, it’s fitting to consider consecrating ourselves to St. Joseph along with Mary.

History of devotion to St. Joseph

Devotion to St. Joseph is relatively new in the history of the Church, in much the same way that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary had not matured until a millennium had passed.

St. John Henry Newman, in an 1866 letter in response to his estranged Anglican friend Dr. E. Pusey, makes this point about the late-rising devotion to St. Joseph (page 33):

Those names, I say, which at first sight might have been expected to enter soon into the devotions of the faithful, with better reason might have been looked for at a later date, and actually were late in their coming. St, Joseph furnishes the most striking instance of this remark; here is the clearest of instances of the distinction between doctrine and devotion. Who, from his prerogatives and the testimony on which they come to us, had a greater claim to receive an early recognition among the faithful? A saint of Scripture, the foster-father of our Lord, he was an object of the universal and absolute faith of the Christian world from the first, yet the devotion to him is comparatively of late date. When once it began, men seemed surprised that it had not been thought of before; and now, they hold him next to the Blessed Virgin in their religious affection and veneration.

Most Chaste Spouse

In this age of rampant licentiousness, immorality, unchastity, impurity, and every kind of defilement of body and mind (2 Cor. 7:1), St. Joseph stands out as an example of chastity and purity, whom all men can aspire to imitate.

God counted St. Joseph to be the only man worthy to be the most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was to remain a virgin for her whole life. God trusted St. Joseph to honor her perpetual virginity for life.

Any other man might have beheld this most beautiful daughter of Adam, and might have requested the marital debt. But St. Joseph knew that he himself had a better than such fleeting pleasures, and an abiding one (Heb. 10:34).

Men advanced in years are not surprised to hear of a husband who does not feel the want or need of being maritally intimate. Nor are those men or priests who have consecrated themselves to God as perpetual virgins.

Heavenly Marriage

This is not to say St. Joseph was not intimate with Mary, but that their intimacy was a far more real, far deeper reaching, far more eternally existing intimacy than what is typically found at the height of the consummation of a marriage.

That’s not to say there’s anything sinful or wrong with the marital union. By it, husband and wife are drawn closer together in heart, are taught selflessness, are able to populate Heaven with more children.

But it was not possible for the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph and the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be any closer to each other than they were. It was not possible for them to become more selfless and self-giving. And to this day, they are continually populating Heaven, with us, their spiritual children.

Foster-Father of Jesus

St. Joseph was the reputed father of Jesus. Many saints and writers have made this the highest dignity and glory of St. Joseph, higher than the fact that he was counted worthy to become the most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Just imagine it! Nobody was surprised to hear that St. Joseph was the father of this Holy Child, who was God Himself. Nobody questioned this assertion for one second. All believed him truly to be the father of Jesus. This is how completely and totally holy Joseph was.

Many writers and Saints have asserted that Joseph never sinned, and was probably sanctified in the womb like St. John the Baptist, due to his special mission as guardian, protector, provider, and reputed father of Jesus.

A True Father

Besides this, Jesus did actually learn from St. Joseph those things which actual experience needs, which reading books alone can’t teach, such as how to hammer a nail in properly. Being “true man” requires life experience, and St. Joseph provided the childhood experience to the Boy Jesus.

As Jesus is the Son of God, he is also the son of Joseph. So it seems safe to conclude that Joseph must have been inspired to always act toward Jesus in the same way God the Father would have acted in his place.

It wouldn’t be fitting for Jesus to know exactly what God the Father would want him to do, and have St. Joseph ask him to do something else, thus having to disobey one or the other. The direction and guidance of St. Joseph must have been fully conformed to that of God the Father, so that if one has seen St. Joseph, he has seen God the Father (John 14:9).

All of this gives us a great confidence that St. Joseph was a good father, or rather, the best possible of all fathers that ever have been or ever will be. And that, even now in Heaven, St. Joseph retains those same utterly perfect fatherly qualities and abilities.

More Complete Consecration

Consecration to Mary is a wonderful thing, and can be life-changing depending on how seriously we take it. But a family is not complete with only a Mother and a child.

In the same way that Protestants who become Catholic often describe the experience as having a more complete family, consecration to both Mary and Joseph has the potential to make our consecration to Jesus more complete.

The point of consecration to Mary, as thoroughly described by St. Louis de Montfort, is to be more perfectly consecrated to Jesus, for this is the true purpose of any true devotion.

But Jesus was part of a family, and as the Holy Family were more citizens of Heaven than earth even while living on earth, they are still just as much a real family today in Heaven, with all the same affections, relations, and roles.

Children of the Holy Family

By baptism, we are made adopted children of God the Father, and hence adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus. We know that Jesus also gave us Mary as our spiritual Mother. So there’s already the beginning of a family: us, our Mother Mary, and our brother Jesus.

Now we just need our Father Joseph. It’s almost as if St. Joseph was out working in his carpentry shop all day, for all our life until now (or for the Church’s history until this past few centuries), and has suddenly come home from work to rest for the evening.

Especially during these years where the structure of the family—one man, one woman, one marriage, brothers and sisters of the same two parents—is under attack, we need a protector, an advocate, a guardian, an example, an intercessor who can help us in all of our various trials and tribulations.

We must become children

Jesus says that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of God.

If entrustment or consecration to Mother Mary is about becoming like a child to this most loving of mothers, and letting her form us, nourish us, and mould us into the living members of the Body of Christ, then consecration to Father Joseph will only complement and finish that process.

In much the same way as a mother and father have different strengths, different complementary ways of helping their children, God has given us both Mary and Joseph to help us in every type of need, difficulty, and trial.

So we must be as little children, walking down the narrow and rough path, holding the hands of Mother Mary on the right and Father Joseph on the left. Entrusting ourselves to their care, that they will help us over every stone, and protect us from every serpent.

If you’re looking to get to know St. Joseph better, check out some free books about him.

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