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Sufferings of 
Saint Joseph
His Seven Sorrows

by St. Peter Julian Eymard

 

Because Saint Joseph was associated with Mary in Her glorious privileges, he also had to suffer like Her and his heart too was pierced by seven swords.

These seven great afflictions were like the stations of the Sorrowful Way that he had to tread in company with Jesus. He suffered continually in his heart; but at certain times his agony became doubly acute, taking on a new intensity, turning the knife in its own wounds.

1. His first great trial was the torturing doubt he felt at Mary’s pregnancy. About to abandon Her without saying a word, he wondered “What will become of this young girl, little more than a child? Who will take care of Her? Still the law enforces separation, and respect for it obliges me to leave Her.” What terrible anguish for so loving and devoted a heart as Joseph’s, a heart that loved Mary more than we can understand.

2. He was deeply hurt when Bethlehem rejected him and forced him to seek refuge in a stable. He grieved not for himself, but for that young mother, Queen of Angels, and for the Infant, his God, who was coming into the world. What smote him hardest was the injury done Them and the privations his loved ones would endure in the stable. He did not know how many days and nights they would have to stay there. God was leading him like a blind man, keeping him always dependent, and this uncertainty redoubled his distress.

3. The Circumcision of Jesus. What a shock to Joseph to think that he himself would make the Infant-God suffer and would shed the first drops of His blood. How his heart ached at the sight of that wound, the blood that flowed from it, and the tears of the divine Mother.

4. The prophecy of the aged Simeon. When Joseph learned that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul, he fathomed the full meaning of Isaias’ prophecy concerning the sufferings and humiliations of the Messias. From that moment on he bore the sorrow of both Mary and Jesus. The thought of Their sufferings never left him, but became a daily torture which he shared with Them.

5. The hurried flight into Egypt. Who can imagine the fears, the terrors of that journey? God filled Joseph with dread so that he might abandon himself to Providence. In that strange land, on those deserted roads, Joseph endured constant anxiety, apprehending every misfortune. He had the heart of a father, the tenderest of hearts. There he was, a poor old man, charged with protecting alone the Treasure of God the Father against the enemies that might at any instant attack It.

6. On his return from Egypt another misfortune was awaiting him. For fear of Archelaus, Joseph was obliged to conceal the Child Jesus again. There was no rest for Joseph, no peace; he escaped one danger only to encounter another.

7. The loss of Jesus in the Temple. So great was Joseph’s anguish, so bitter were his tears that the Holy Spirit has willed to immortalize them in Mary’s words: “My Son, why hast Thou treated us so? Think, what anguish of mind Thy father and I have endured, searching for Thee.” (Luke 2:48) He was all the more racked with worry as, in his humility, he accused himself of negligence in caring for the Father’s sacred trust.

These were the seven great sorrows of Saint Joseph. He endured them in silence, humility, and love, neither having nor desiring any human consolation. He suffered, not for himself, but for Jesus, for Mary, for the world, for us. Blessed suffering that united him to the redemptive work of the Savior.

Saint Joseph, Perfect Model of Purity

Saint Joseph’s most prized possessions were his chastity and his virginity. All the gold in the world could not buy them, for they are the symbol of royalty in the realm of God’s love.

We read that “He who loves purity will have the king for a friend.” So it was that Saint Joseph, supported by divine grace — for he had been sanctified from the womb of his mother — consecrated himself to God by the vow of virginity. Although such a state was held in disdain among the Jews, Joseph was not afraid to take the step. He consented to marriage with the Blessed Virgin only on the condition that both should preserve their virginity for God. Virginity was the necessary requisite for Joseph to become the servant of Jesus and of Mary, the Queen of Virgins. He prized this virtue as much as a servant glories in the neatness of his livery when serving his master. And so, in the convent of Nazareth there were three virgins: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. From this fact we can see how much God loves this virtue of virginity.

Such must be the purity of the eucharistic soul, above all of one who has bound itself to God’s service by the vow of virginity. God confides to it the love, grace, and glory of His divine Son, as He confided it to Saint Joseph. Jesus is that soul’s treasure, its King and God. Only by purity will it serve Him worthily.

First, purity of mind: by acting always from a pure intention and for the sole purpose of serving Jesus better.

Secondly, purity of heart: by loving Jesus above all and all else in Him.

Thirdly, purity of will: by desiring only what God wills and only for His greater glory.

Lastly, purity of body: by mortification after the example of Christ.

Saint Joseph, who because of thy purity merited to be chosen as husband of the purest of virgins and to be called the foster-father of Jesus, obtain for us a purity like thine own so that we may serve Jesus worthily on His throne of love together with Mary, the angels, and thee.

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