Saint Joseph, Hero of Humility, Pray for Us
When we were planning our wedding Mass, we asked the priest friend who would be receiving our vows if we could do something a little different.
“Not that kind of different, Father, don’t worry,” we explained. We wanted to include a moment of devotion to St. Joseph in addition to the optional practice of presenting a bouquet to the Blessed Mother. So after exchanging our vows but before the Mass was ended, we stood at the first strains of the Ave Maria and made our way over to the alcoves on either side of the church, placing roses at the feet of Mary and then a small bouquet of lilies at the feet of Joseph.
Later - much later, perhaps years down the road - one of our wedding guests shared with us how powerfully that moment had struck him:
“Joseph will always have your back; he loves your family fiercely.”
We have felt that to an extraordinary degree in our near decade of marriage, finding in St. Joseph a sure and steady intercessor in everything from pregnancy to career issues to finances to, yes, real estate.
Over the past few years as we’ve learned more about the Church’s rich history in the area of deliverance and spiritual warfare, we’ve discovered a whole new appreciation for this quiet, humble man. One of the many titles of St. Joseph is one that might raise a few eyebrows. He is identified as “terror of demons,” and known for his powerful assistance in resisting the enemy and interceding for those oppressed or even possessed by demonic forces.
While we know relatively little about St. Joseph’s life on earth, we can look to the ministry accomplished by his family - the Holy Family - and begin to realize what kind of a spiritual giant must have been behind the scenes. One does not live with the Mother of God and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, without possessing extraordinary spiritual humility and supernatural graces. Imagine the conviction and courage it took for Joseph to accept the angelic command to take Mary into his home, to accept her explanation of her fiat, to parent the child Jesus, God incarnate. A lesser man would have crumbled beneath the pressure.
How did Joseph stand steadfast when the woman to whom he was legally wed but not yet intimate with came to him and confessed her divine pregnancy? Even before the consoling dream of the angel, Joseph’s reaction was not rage but sorrow and mercy, choosing to humiliate himself with involvement in a quiet divorce rather than the public spectacle to which he was entitled: Mary’s death. He loved her enough to desire mercy and not sacrifice.
How was Joseph able to pursue heroic chastity all his married life, embracing the challenges of celibacy as he lived in marital union with the ever virgin Mary, who was wedded in some mysterious way to God Himself, the Holy Spirit?
We see Joseph’s humility and utter submission to God’s will play out in the life of his foster Son, Jesus Christ. Was St. Joseph’s example a source of comfort and strength to Him when it came His turn for abasement and humiliation as He entered into His Passion?
Satan hates humility; it is the very thing he rejected when he uttered his non serviam, refusing to bow before a higher and greater calling.
The devil’s damnation is an eternal rejection of God’s will. Joseph’s glory is an eternal submission to God’s will. Joseph stepped aside in humility and agreement where Satan spat in defiance and pride. Joseph stayed; Satan fled.
No wonder, then, that demons flee in terror before the magnanimity and humility of Joseph. He stands for everything that they reject, and he stood with quiet courage in the very place they most feared.