St. Joseph’s holy and blessed death

July 26, 2021 • 7 min

From St. Joseph’s Life, Virtues, Privileges, Power, page 155
By Very Rev. Archdeacon Kinane, P.P.

At death we covet the prayers of holy souls to help us on the passage to eternity; happy the death of St. Joseph, who was helped and comforted by the hands and prayers of the Blessed Virgin herself.

At death, we covet the presence of God’s minister, that the departing soul may get the last blessing, the last absolution; happy the death of St. Joseph, whose departing soul was absolved and blessed by Jesus Christ Himself.

The presence and the attentions of a dear and holy friend sweeten the pains of death; sweet, peaceful, and happy, the death of St. Joseph, who died in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

In the hour of trial the faithful friend proves his gratitude and love; so at the death of St. Joseph, his holy spouse, the Blessed Virgin, endeavoured to reward him, for his loving and reverential attentions and kindness to her, during the long period of thirty years.

If Jesus rewards, as He does, a cup of cold water given in His name; what choicest heavenly graces and blessings, did He not shower upon His dying reputed father St. Joseph, who assisted Him before He was born; who first after Mary, adored Him in the manger at Bethlehem; who saved His life from the cruelty of Herod; who carried Him in his arms through the wild desert, and over the burning sands of Egypt; who, by the labour of his hands, supplied the wants and comforts of Jesus; in one word, who lived for Jesus, who is now dying of love for Jesus—how Jesus rewarded our dying Saint, the mind cannot conceive, nor the tongue express.

The pious reader will excuse us for inserting a few passages, out of the many we have before us, from the devout Clients of St. Joseph.

Father Binet writes, “St. Joseph died in the arms of Jesus and Mary; a happiness which excites feelings of the deepest devotion. His passage to the other world was more a triumph than a death. He finally breathed his last sigh which Jesus and Mary received. On that occasion all the court of heaven descended to venerate that body, in which had dwelt so great and holy a soul, adorned with those riches of virtue which the Gospel sums up in the one word, ‘just’”.

“Oh! how at that moment, the last of his life, must not Jesus have rewarded, with a torrent of confidence, him, who, as a father, had borne a father’s fears and toils. ‘Go,’ must the Angels have said; ‘go, O new Precursor, and bear to the holy Patriarchs the tidings of their coming liberation, which now appears as the dawn of the Sun of Justice above the horizon, foretokening happiness; meanwhile we weave thee this crown of roses, and lilies, and this starry robe which thy purity deserves and thy dignity of father of Jesus, a title never bestowed on Angels. Already is thy throne prepared at the right hand of that which awaits thy spouse. Thou shalt be the great counsellor in the court of heaven, the treasurer of the riches and graces, which the Almighty Father dispenses; thou shalt be the Protector of the future Church, and the advocate of its children in all necessities and cares.’ The Mother of God, speaking with the sweet eloquence of her eyes, more than with the tender harmony of her voice, thanked him for his care in ministering to her with such signs of gratitude as kindled new flames of divine love in the noble heart of St. Joseph. In these colloquies that splendid light gave its last gleams, like the sun when near its setting.”

Pious souls can write with touching sweetness on St. Joseph, but the Saints alone can conceive, and express thoughts worthy of so noble a theme. “Let us consider this blessed Patriarch,” writes St. Leonard of Port Maurice, “in the arms of Jesus and Mary, at the moment of giving up his soul to his Creator. See him stretched on his poor bed, Jesus on one side, and Mary on the other, surrounded by a multitude of Angels, Archangels, and Seraphim, who, with a respectful attention, are waiting to receive this holy soul. O God, who shall tell us with what feelings, at this supreme moment, Joseph took a last leave of Jesus and Mary.” What acts of thankfulness, of supplication, of humility, on the part of this holy old man! His eyes and his heart speak, alone his tongue is silent. But how much there is in his silence! He looks at Mary, and Mary at him; and with what love and veneration! Then he turns his dying eyes on Jesus, and Jesus returns the look, but with what tenderness! He takes the hand of Jesus, and presses it to his heart: and covers it with kisses, and bedews it with his tears, and says to Him, from time to time, less with his lips than in his heart. ‘My Son, my much loved Son, I recommend my soul to Thee!’ And then, placing that hand on his heart, he falls into a swoon of love. Ah! Joseph! if you could but keep fast hold of that hand, which is Life, you would not die! Oh, how sweet it would be to die, holding the hand of Jesus!

“The soul is on the point of leaving the body; it has already half taken flight, but at the sight of Jesus and Mary it pauses: it cannot break its chain. I repeat, Joseph, if you do not cease to look upon Him who is your life, you cannot die. Tender and Divine Redeemer, Jesus, holy Mary, Joseph cannot quit this land of exile, if you will not give him leave! Jesus lifts His hand. He blesses and embraces His much-loved father, and Joseph expires in the arms of Jesus.”

The honeyed pen of St. Francis of Sales writes: “A Saint, who had so loved in life, could only die of love; for his soul could not love Jesus enough amidst the distractions of this life; and having fulfilled the duty required of him in tending the childhood of his Lord, what remained but that he should say to the Eternal Father, ‘I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do’ (St. John, xvii. 4): and to the Son: ‘My Child, as your heavenly Father intrusted your body into my hands on the day that you came into the world, so on this day of my departure from this world, I remit my spirit into yours.’ Such, I imagine, was the death of this great Patriarch, the most noble death of all, due to the most noble life which any creature had ever led—a death which Angels themselves would covet if they were capable of dying.”

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