having been associated, as Mother and Minister, with the King of martyrs in the ineffable work of human Redemption, she is always associated, with a practically measureless power, in the distribution of the graces that derive from the Redemption…. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion. (Pius XII, Radiomessage to Fatima, Bendito seia, May 13, 1946)
Slowly Understanding Joseph’s Fiat
Last May, I was at a Sunday morning Mass after I had written about Saint Joseph and his fiat a few weeks earlier. When I came back from communion, I had a direct line view of the statue of Saint Joseph. As I looked at him, I knelt down and closed my eyes to pray and saw a young man in his 30’s with his arms outstretched to the sky, surrounded by light. He was sobbing, crying, and giving his all to God. He was totally surrendering. Then Mary said to me in my heart, “that is Joseph.”
In December, while rocking my friend’s five-month-old baby, we prayed a Rosary after Mass. At a certain point during the Rosary, he tucked his head in between my cheek and my neck and dozed off to sleep, his fuzzy soft head nestled snugly. At the time, I was staring at another statue of Saint Joseph, holding the baby Jesus. When I closed my eyes, I could see Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms while standing on a dirt floor. His head was tucked on her neck the same way my friend’s baby was on mine. Since it was hot, she had sweat on her brow as she sang a lullaby to him. It was beautiful and overwhelming because I could palpably feel her intimate love for her baby.
Then at a retreat on the vigil of the Presentation, the Priest directed us to meditate on the word intimate because God wanted to be intimate with us. Before I closed my eyes I looked at a picture of Saint Joseph in front of me, asking the Lord in prayer about intimacy. Instead, it seemed that I was once again in the same home, with the same dirt floor. Mary was holding Jesus in her arms but Joseph was there this time. He kissed Mary on the forehead and held her and Jesus in his arms. He looked at them with intense love. God was showing me an intimate moment between Joseph and Mary. Now before anyone goes off the rails, I want to be clear; This was not sexual; Mary is Ever-Virgin.
Before I continue, I must say that I had just decided what happened at this silent retreat at the beautiful Bethany House was a private revelation, when God seemed to say, “Speak”. As you continue to read this article, keep in mind that if the Magisterium of the Church came out tomorrow stating what I have written is false, I would accept her discernment.
Joesph and Intimacy
Joseph was aware of his role as Guardian and Protector of Mary and Jesus. He kissed her with affection and total knowledge of her grace, which was extended to him by God when Joseph said yes to God’s plan and listened to the angel. From the moment the angel addressed Mary as Full of Grace, she became the Mediatrix of Grace. She prayed for Joseph during the time that he wanted to divorce her. Mary desired for his perfection. Joseph was already a righteous man, built from his habits and his love for God. After his dream, he totally consented to the plan of God and he was full of grace from that moment forward because he was restored to union with Jesus through Mary Mediatrix of all Grace.
We know from tradition that John the Baptist was cleansed from original sin when he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. It is why Scripture tells us, no one born of woman is greater than John. Her first acts as Mediatrix of all Grace were to extend grace to her earthly spouse and to a child in the womb. Her role, to bring all to union with her Son, starting with a child and a spouse. A spouse to whose authority she submitted. Joseph does not want her body, he knows the sanctity of her and it’s as if glancing at her with the child Jesus takes him into the whirlwind like Job. He cannot even speak of the immensity of it. So, in the quiet of his heart, he adores his foster Son. He loves his Mother, truly. It’s an intimacy most do not understand because most can’t get past the idea of intimate love as something which has to be physical.
Full of Grace?
I pressed God further about this, “Joseph became full of grace?” Jesus answered,
“Do you not think my home, where I would be raised, would not be surrounded in pure virtue? All good comes from God alone, all grace from God flows through my mother. The Almighty calls you to participate in your divinization. My mother is the greatest example of this.”
Joseph was young, not the old man often depicted. Joseph was young but once he had tasted the immensity of union with God, everything else pales in comparison. It’s like when Aquinas called his work “straw”, all else falls away in nothingness and is not needed. Men, in their limitations, constructed Joseph to be old, not because he was, but because they could not comprehend, nor did they know the magnanimity of God, of union with God. It is a mystery that can make an intellectual giant like Aquinas stop writing because of the nothingness of his writing in comparison. Once you’re infused with the gaze of love the desire becomes God alone and all pure virtue flows through you. Joseph attained this because of Mary’s openness and his habitual virtue.
The original Hebrew word for woman could be translated as “to be open”. In addition, the Hebrew word for womb came to be known as mercy. Mary was open, open to mercy Himself. Mary was open to receiving God, and as such is a Mediatrix of Grace and the conduit for her earthly spouse to attain that unity with God her son. Joseph adored at the tabernacle that held the King. They are the model of the Domestic Church and it is in the Domestic Church when it is properly ordered that true love resides, and faith hope and charity should be lived. The sacramental life starts in your homes.
I cried at how little I had understood spousal love, about how much I have tried to control my husband and how much of my femininity I had lost in trying to control things instead of letting God do what God does. In that time between the angel appearing to Mary and the angel appearing to Joseph, we do not see Mary yelling at Joseph trying to convince him of it. She wasn’t lamenting that she is super holy and he just isn’t as spiritually far along as she is. What we see is Mary accepting God’s plan, and trusting it. In doing this, Mary let God be God, and she became a conduit of Joseph’s sanctification.
God longs for us to have the same communion which Mary, Joseph and Jesus enjoyed. It extends to the communion of Saints. It looks like a Mystical Body that is glorious and healthy. I knew in an instant that my mission on this earth is to pour love into my spouse. And also to pray more ardently for our Priests, who bring us the Eucharist. This is the fruit of my prayer with Mary; to love others more, to pray for them more, so that her Son can bring more people to Salvation.