5 Spousal and Fatherly Titles of St. Joseph
Written by The Station of the Cross on March 31, 2022
How well do you know St. Joseph, the earthly image of God’s Spousal and Fatherly Love? Get to know this pure and powerful saint even better by learning the 5 titles of St. Joseph and what they truly mean.
These are taken from the Litany of St. Joseph, a devotion prayed especially on his feast day.
1. Spouse of the Mother of God
Within the mysteries of Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ Incarnation, Joseph and Mary oriented their entire lives together as a married couple. The revelation that the holy couple lived simultaneously the charism of virginity and the gift of matrimony demonstrates just some of the profound graces bestowed upon Joseph.
The Church teaches that Christ dwells within, and with, the bride and groom in the sacrament of marriage. Graces spring from this supernatural, fruitful, and tender love of Christ that binds a husband and wife. The souls of the faithful couple join to achieve greater union than their bodies. Authentic married love is caught up in divine love.
Christ dwelt with, and within, Joseph and Mary in the most concrete and tangible way possible. It is in this sense, and through this bond, that Joseph was Mary’s true and sublime spouse. His love was definitive and so was his fidelity.
2. Chaste Guardian of the Virgin
Chastity is the human and divine virtue which enables man’s love to burn more brightly. It purifies the lover of anything other than to desire what God wants for his beloved. It is a hallmark of the presence of the Holy Spirit and a dominant characteristic of St. Joseph’s love for Our Lady. It enabled him to fulfill his responsibility of providing and protecting her in every circumstance in a manner above any suspicion or reproach.
His chaste love for Our Lady in a way becomes the prototype for all love since it would be the model for the self-surrendering, redeeming love with which Jesus will lay down his life for the Church. It was with holy purity that Joseph’s true marriage represented the fidelity of God to His covenant with mankind, and the fidelity of Christ to His Bride, the Church. Their virginity within marriage was the complete integration of their persons into their elevated, holy love.
3. Foster Father of the Son of God
Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit; He is the Son of God. However, Joseph was not merely a “foster father.” His true fatherhood is revealed in the Scriptures by Our Lady herself, in Luke 2:48 when she tells a young Jesus in the temple, “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
There was the primary fatherhood of God, and Jesus recognized this too by replying to His Mother, “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49) Yet, Christ, even as a child, respected and obeyed the authority of the father He had been given on earth with love, just as He did His Heavenly Father. He subjected himself to Joseph’s authority when they found Him there teaching the elders and answering their questions.
4. Diligent Protector of Christ
God chose Joseph to protect and save His Son, so that one day the Son could save him, and all of us. When the Angel appeared to him in a dream and told Joseph to take the child and His Mother to Egypt, because Herod sought to kill Jesus, he obeyed immediately. (Mt 2:13) Years later, after Herod’s death, the Angel of the Lord appeared to St. Joseph again in a dream, with another directive: “Get up. Take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel.” (Mt 2:19-20)
He again obeyed promptly, but having heard that Herod’s son was ruling Judea, he feared returning there and endangering the life of Jesus. The Lord did not allow him to remain fearful, and again he was warned in a dream to go to Galilee and make his home in Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled. (Mt 2:22-23)
He put his whole being into his vocation as husband and father, protector and provider. Like Mary, he knew and lived the Scriptural command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Dt. 6:5). St. Joseph’s zeal sprang from reverential love for God. Pope Francis writes in Patris Corde, “The Son of the Almighty came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph.”
5. Head of the Holy Family
The growth of Jesus “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,” (Lk 2:52) took place under the attentive eyes of Joseph as father and head of his family. He clothed, fed, supported, and cared for the daily needs of his son and his beloved wife. From Joseph, Jesus learned, at a human level, much of what a man needed in order to grow in human wisdom and stature.
The role of St. Joseph in salvation history is glorious, but he did not set out in search of anything more than to meet God’s will with his own as a husband and father. Though Our Lady possessed every virtue in a degree higher than any other human being, St. Joseph was nearer to that perfection than anyone else.
For the love of God, he became the protector of Our Lady and the defender of Christ; he was wholly devoted to them for all of his life. Joseph was a quiet saint whose pivotal role in our salvation hinged on his littleness, which became his greatness.
Visit The Station of the Cross for more authentically Catholic media content and listen to this episode of The Simple Truth where Fr. Donald Calloway describes his book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father.
St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pray for Us!