Saint Joseph - Master of the Interior Life

Source: District of Asia

Three particular characteristics present him to us as the supreme Master of the interior life: firstly, his admirable concealment and voluntary silence in the presence of Jesus and Mary; secondly, his intimacy with Jesus and Mary, or rather, his contemplative life with Jesus and Mary; finally, his total and lifelong dedication to the service of Jesus and Mary.

1. Admirable Silence of Saint Joseph

The silence that envelops Saint Joseph in the Holy Gospel is already proverbial. The Holy Spirit did not want any of his words or actions recorded, except those strictly necessary to recount the infancy of the Savior. Nevertheless, we can observe three things about this silence:

   a. First, the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks to us through silences. For example, the silence surrounding the life and ancestry of Melchizedek is seized upon by Saint Paul to see in him a figure of Our Lord Jesus Christ, an eternal priest without a father on earth and without a mother in heaven. Similarly, the silence surrounding Saint Joseph is meant to present him as an example to interior souls, entirely dead to the world and living only for God.

   b. Second, Saint Joseph's own silence was a virtue that he willingly embraced. We could say about Saint Joseph what Saint Louis Marie says about the Blessed Virgin in his Treatise on True Devotion:

      "Mary was very hidden in her life; thus, the Holy Spirit and the Church call her Alma Mater, hidden and concealed Mother. Her humility was so profound that she desired and sought to be hidden from every creature, and known only to God. God, in hearing her request to hide her, impoverish her, and humble her, was pleased to hide her in her conception, birth, life, mysteries, resurrection, and assumption, from almost all men. Even her own parents did not know her; and the angels often asked each other, 'Who is this?' because the Most High kept her hidden, or if he revealed anything about her, it was infinitely less than he concealed" (True Devotion, no. 2-3).

      Since Saint Joseph had to be the husband and inseparable companion of Mary during her earthly life, and so that both spouses would always have the same dispositions and feelings, grace imprinted in Saint Joseph the same attraction to concealment and humility. Saint Joseph prayed to God to hide him from every human creature, so that he could live only for Jesus and Mary.

   c. Third, this silence had providential reasons, especially to safeguard the mystery and person of the incarnate Word against all attacks and snares of the devil, until the time came for Christ to reveal himself to the world. Saint Joseph fully understood the meaning of this concealment and silence, and therefore, he dedicated himself to it with body and soul."

2. Intimacy of Saint Joseph with the Blessed Virgin and Jesus

The concealment in which Saint Joseph lived prepared him to devote his entire life to the most desirable activity a man can engage in during this life: the contemplation of Jesus and Mary. In this, we could say that Saint Joseph even surpassed the angels themselves.

We know that angels are purely spiritual beings without bodies; therefore, their entire activity consists of exercising their knowledge and love, applying it to the highest object that exists, which is God, and to all other things that proceed from God and are ordered back to Him. This is what makes them perfect contemplatives. Contemplation is precisely that: the loving gaze of the intellect upon God and supernatural mysteries, to praise and adore God, thank Him for the love He bestows on us, and love Him as our only good and eternal beatitude.

This is exactly what Saint Joseph did with an unimaginable perfection. God placed him in contact, or rather, in perfect family intimacy, with the two most beloved and precious beings: His incarnate Word and the Mother of the Word, who was his Wife. It is easy to understand how Saint Joseph grasped the greatness of his vocation and applied all his strength to develop this dual aspect of interior life:

1. On the one hand, Saint Joseph daily knew, in its smallest details, the soul of the Blessed Virgin, his immaculate Spouse. With what diligence he tried to always live in harmony with what he contemplated in his Wife! For the Blessed Virgin is like a fire that radiates virtue, purity, charity, holiness, to all who approach her, and Saint Joseph lived next to that fire for thirty consecutive years, in the most perfect union of soul with Mary. And through her, Joseph also penetrated into the heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who honored him with the name of Father and with whom he maintained an intimacy that far surpassed that which we can see in the apostles during the three years of the Savior's public life.

2. On the other hand, this knowledge in Saint Joseph was the source of an ardent love. No one has loved Mary, nor will anyone ever love her, as Saint Joseph loved her. And after Mary, no one has loved Jesus as this celestial Patriarch loved Him. With the Blessed Virgin, he had the love of a true and perfect Spouse; and with the Child Jesus, he had the love of a Father, projecting onto the incarnate Word the very love of the eternal Father and being able to say with Him, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Yes, these words perfectly summarize all of Saint Joseph's contemplation.

3. Dedication of Saint Joseph to the Service of Jesus and Mary

Of course, this life of intimacy did not remain in pure contemplation. In Saint Joseph, as in every soul that has reached perfection, charity becomes a vapor, an ardor, an energy that impels one to self-sacrifice for the loved one. Saint Joseph, guided by the knowledge and love he had for this double divine treasure, Jesus and Mary, spontaneously placed himself at their service, generously providing those services for which Providence counted on him.

Like all actions that arise from contemplation, Saint Joseph's activity was not feverish but perfectly regulated:

- Deliberate and measured action, free from first impressions and impulses of the natural self.

- Persevering action that never abandons its tasks once the goal is set.

- Loving action, in which charity, as queen, puts all other virtues into play, sometimes involving sacrifice (fleeing to Egypt), prudence (decision to withdraw to Nazareth), temperance (poor life in Nazareth), fulfilling duties of state (life as a craftsman), and complete surrender to the will of God (death of Saint Joseph).

- Disinterested action in which Saint Joseph never sought himself, nor sought any reward other than to love Mary and through her, love Jesus and collaborate in their glorification.

- Lastly, fruitful action, even if its results remained hidden from our eyes, much like the rest of the Patriarch's life. The primary fruit of this fertility is having preserved for us the Priest and Victim of the redeeming work, and the Collaborator of this same work. Yes, thanks to Saint Joseph, the work of redeeming souls was accomplished.


The Church aims to ensure this interior life, of which Saint Joseph is such a consummate Master, primarily for consecrated souls, especially those destined for the priesthood, so that they may then serve as examples for the rest of the faithful.

However, beyond consecrated souls, there is nothing preventing the memory and example of Saint Joseph from also becoming an enduring model for all Christian faithful. They, too, can humbly place themselves under the guidance of this wise and experienced Master, learning from him the secrets of true interior life to the extent that their own conditions allow.