St. Bernardine of Siena (d. 1444) said,
“He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of His greatest treasures, namely, His divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying, ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.'”
St. Teresa of Avila (d. 1582) wrote,
“I took St. Joseph as my advocate and protector, and recommended myself very earnestly to him. He came to my help in the most visible manner. This loving father of my soul, this beloved protector, hastened to pull me out of the state in which my body was languishing, just as he snatched me away from greater dangers of another nature which were jeopardizing my honor and my eternal salvation! For my happiness to be complete, he has always answered my prayers beyond what I had asked and hoped for. I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and in soul.”
Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Custos (1989) exhorted the faithful to look to St. Joseph in our troubled age:
“This patronage must be invoked, and it is always necessary for the Church, not only to defend it against dangers ceaselessly cropping up, but also and above all to support it in those fearful efforts at evangelizing the world, and spreading the new evangelization among nations where the Christian religion and life were formerly the most flourishing, but are now put to a difficult test…. May St. Joseph become for all a singular master in the service of the saving mission of Christ that is incumbent on each and every one of us in the Church: To spouses, to parents, to those who live by the work of their hands or by any other work, to persons called to the contemplative life as well as to those called to the apostolate.”
I love what Pope Benedict XVI said about St. Joseph:
“Dear brothers and sisters, our meditation on the human and spiritual journey of Saint Joseph invites us to ponder his vocation in all its richness, and to see him as a constant model for all those who have devoted their lives to Christ in the priesthood, in the consecrated life or in the different forms of lay engagement. Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a ‘just man’ (Mt 1:19) because his existence is ‘ad-justed’ to the word of God.”
At the heart of the New Evangelization Pope Benedict says is 1) Conversion, 2) The Kingdom of God, 3) Jesus Christ and 4) Eternal Life. St. Joseph is a model of faith that draws us to conversion though his faithful and focused response to God’s call in his life. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God through the authentic witness of his life. Jesus Christ, his adopted son and the one Joseph received supernatural adoption was the one Joseph knew was his Lord and Savior. After Mary, Joseph was the closest to Christ. Therefore, his union to Christ was, like Mary’s, incredibly rich and profound. Much can be pondered from the silence of St. Joseph, but one thing is sure – His holiness intensified and was illuminated through his life with Christ. Our lives likewise should be intensified and illuminated through our encounter with the living God – especially in the Eucharist. And finally, our ultimate goal is Eternal Life and St. Joseph knew this. His example and faithfulness show us that it is not in the big things, in recognition or wealth that one acquires the greatest of prizes. It is union with God and life everlasting with God that is our ultimate goal and to that which all our endeavors should be aimed.
Each of these 4 points from Pope Benedict point us to the heart of this New Evangelization. St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church lived a life of holiness and union with God worth modeling as we consider living and carrying out the New Evangelization. May St. Joseph inspire us and intercede for us in all our endeavors to bring about a New Evangelization that empowers and transforms, first, us and then the world we live in.