New Sherwood

Things you didn’t know about St. Joseph

The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker (1 May) is approaching, and we are praying another novena to this saint who has been such a loving and effective patron for my family. There are some interesting traditions about St. Joseph which I am just discovering. For example, in 1960 Pope John XXIII asserted that it may be piously believed that St. Joseph was bodily assumed into heaven at the time of Christ’s Ascension, thereby reuniting the Holy Family in totality. This belief was widely promulgated by St. Bernardine of Sienna and French theologian Jean Gerson in the 15th century, and I have to admit, there is a compelling logic to it.

While in Front Royal, Virginia, I picked up a newspaper published by the Pilgrims of St. Michael about Our Lady of America. In this publication was found the transcripts of the revelations given to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil in the 1950s. Leaving aside Our Lady of America for the moment, what I found most interesting were the revelations concerning St. Joseph, which asserted, among other things, that St. Joseph was cleansed from original sin immediately after his conception.  Here are the pertinent texts:

“In early October, 1956, St. Joseph told Sister Mildred that from the moment of his conception, his pure heart was inflamed with love of God and that he was freed from original sin immediately after his conception. He said:

‘It is true my daughter, that immediately after my conception, I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future Virgin-Father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men. My pure heart also was from the first moment of existence inflamed with love for God. Immediately, at the moment when my soul was cleansed from original sin, grace was infused in to it in such abundance that, excluding my holy spouse, I surpassed the holiness of the highest angel in the angelic choir.’

‘My heart suffered with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men. The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them. Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross. I became, in union with my holy spouse, Co-Redemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I co-operated, as no other, in the salvation of the world.'”

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April 28, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

9 Comments »

  1. Do you know anything about the authenticity of those revelations? If true, it’s a very interesting theology of St. Joseph, and one that I hadn’t heard.

    One quibble – being cleansed of sin immediately after conception would not be the same as being conceived without sin, as Mary was. I don’t know what you’d call it, but I see a hierarchy of goods at work here – Jesus, fully sinless and both human and divine, Mary, fully human but always sinless, and Joseph, fully human and cleansed of sin at the earliest possible moment. It fits their roles.

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    Comment by Steve | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. The idea that St. Joseph was bodily assumed into heaven at the time of Christ’s Ascension: is this meant to tie into St. Matthew’s Gospel, which states that many holy people came out of their tombs at the time of Christ’s Resurrection? Presumably all of these resurrected saints were assumed into heaven with Him.

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    Comment by J. | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  3. I believe ArchBishop Raymond Burke approved the apparitions of Our Lady of America as canonically approved. Don’t know too much more about it, except that the hermit in charge of pilgrimages to our Marian Shrine in SC (Our Lady of Joyful Hope) has promoted Our Lady of America apparitions in the past.

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    Comment by jim Curley | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  4. I hadn’t heard that St J was bodily assumed into heaven, but I was familiar with the tradition that he was one of those who came from the tombs at the time of the Resurrection.

    Interesting evidence: I am not aware of any church that even claims to have the bodily relics of St Joseph (ditto those of the Virgin Mary).

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    Comment by Chris | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. Here’s the letter of Archbishop Burke to the USCCB detailing the canonical history of the apparitions and giving his approval.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  6. I would be suspicious of claims that St. Joseph was cleansed of original sin immediately after conception. To believe these claims I would want more testimony from the tradition, especially some significant devotion supporting this from within the first millenium.

    We have the testimony of Jesus that it was John who was the greatest born of a woman and there is a solid tradition supporting his being cleansed from sin at the visitation. If St. Joseph had ben cleansed immediately after conception, would not he have been greater than John?

    On the other hand, I have no difficulty believing he was among those raised at the resurrection.

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    Comment by ben | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. Ben,

    After saying that St. John the Baptist was the greatest born of a woman, Our Lord said that the least in the Kingdom will be greater than St. John. Might St. Joseph count in the number of the least in the Kingdom? Also, if it were literally true that no one was greater than St. John, then Our Lord and Our Lady (both born of woman) would be less than him.

    I also humbly ask that the author of the blog post correct his statement. The apparition clearly did not say that St. Joseph was immaculately conceived. He was conceived in original sin like all of us and was then cleansed at the earliest possible moment thereafter. So he still was conceived with original sin and suffered the consequences of that, such as concupiscence, which Our Lady lacked.

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    Comment by Bonifacius | July 7, 2009 | Reply

  8. Someone wrote:

    “We have the testimony of Jesus that it was John who was the greatest born of a woman and there is a solid tradition supporting his being cleansed from sin at the visitation. If St. Joseph had ben cleansed immediately after conception, would not he have been greater than John?”

    No, they would have been equal at birth, since both would be free of original sin and nobody can commit actual sin prior to the age of reason.

    However, greatness, I think, also refers to how much good one does, not only how much evil one avoids. Parallel passages suggest that our Lord said that St. John was the greatest *PROPHET* born of women. Some of the parallels say ‘man’ but they have to be read together.

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    Comment by Peter Karl T. Perkins | August 20, 2009 | Reply

  9. Bonifacius wrote:

    “I also humbly ask that the author of the blog post correct his statement.”

    I agree, and have made the correction. Thank you.

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    Comment by Blogmaster | July 22, 2010 | Reply


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