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Joseph’s Supernatural Wisdom

4 min • Digitized on July 22, 2021

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, in file "The Life and Glories of St. Joseph", page 381
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

The supernatural light which Joseph received along with this eminent faith endowed his soul with the most singular prudence and wisdom, gifts which in the natural order he had already possessed in a remarkable degree; for this exalted prudence and wisdom was, indeed, requisite in one to whom was intrusted a higher office than was ever confided to the very angels themselves.

Sufficient proof is afforded to us of the eminent supernatural wisdom possessed by Joseph, in our Lady’s behaviour when he communicated to her the orders he had received from Heaven to flee into Egypt. Did not Mary know that this journey must be full of hardships and perils, and was not the safety and preservation of her Divine Son the dearest object of her heart? Was she ignorant of the additional danger involved in this sudden departure in the darkness and cold of a winter’s night, unprepared and unprovided as they were?

Yet she asked not a question to assure herself of the certainty of Joseph’s vision in slumber. She, so enlightened in heavenly mysteries, must have known how difficult and delicate a thing it is to pronounce upon the truth of a revelation, since bad angels as well as good not only can manifest themselves to our exterior senses, but may have access to our imaginations. Nay, even in the case of purely intellectual visions, of which God alone can be the author, since He alone can penetrate into the spirit of man, it is very difficult and needs a high gift of discernment to distinguish them with certainty from those which are formed by the ideas residing in the imagination.

All this, as being deeply conversant with the secrets of the inner and mystical life, Mary well knew. Was it not natural, then,–would it not seem to have been her duty,–under the supposition of any, the slightest, doubt, to ask her spouse to explain the circumstances of this vision in sleep, in order to be sure that it was a supernatural operation, not an illusion?

St. Epiphanius asks where is the caution and the prudence which Mary had evinced when heretofore she addressed that question to the angel: “How shall this be done?” And yet it seemed as incredible that a God should be forced to take refuge amongst idolaters to save His life, as that a maiden should become a mother without losing her virginity. No one could have blamed Mary if she had asked for some explanation, nor would our saint, we may rest assured, have made the least difficulty in satisfying her anxiety, had she expressed any on the subject.

But the Holy Virgin, without replying a word or spending a moment on examining the revelation with which he acquainted her, arose without delay; in which she not only gave a proof of perfect submission, but observed the rules of a prudence altogether divine; for she was so entirely convinced of the wisdom of Joseph and of his supernatural penetration, enabling him to comprehend the most exalted mysteries, that she venerated his words as oracles, knowing that one to whom God had accorded so much light could never hold what was false to be true.

This testimony which the Blessed Virgin gave on this occasion to the wisdom of Joseph is the highest conceivable, when we consider the surpassing light which illuminated her own spirit. Her unquestioning obedience to his directions in a matter of such inappreciable importance, and the estimation in which she clearly held his guidance, are more glorious to him than if all living creatures, the angels included, had united in praising him.

God had, in fact, bestowed on Joseph so excellent a gift of wisdom that it enabled him at once to distinguish mysterious from natural slumbers, the voice of angels from that of bad spirits in their disguise, and the revelations of God from the workings of the imagination. And Mary knew it.

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