Theology of St. Joseph

Source: District of Asia

Very pertinently the questions might be asked “what is the purpose of a study of the theology of St. Joseph?  Should we not be content to accept him merely as the protector of Mary and Jesus, calling him by his time tested name of foster father?

“Oh why seek more data, delving into Holy Scripture and Church history, since, as every thinking person can discover for himself, there is so little we know about the Saint?  Why risk infringing on the rights of the Eternal Father, perhaps detracting as well from the exclusive rank of the Blessed Virgin?”


The chief answer to these queries rests on the principle that knowledge is the basis for action.  All the things being equal, we can love and imitate St. Joseph so much the more as we know more about him.  Conversely, the greater our love, the greater will be our interest in learning all possible details of his dignity and of his holiness.

Fr. Rondet S.J., gives rather a brief synthesis on St. Joseph’s connection with the mystery of our salvation-and it is why the doctrine about St. Joseph is ‘theology’. “The Catholic faith puts Our Lady above the Apostles, above the doctors of the Church, above all the saints. The same line of argument that is applied to her leads to an understanding of St. Joseph’s greatness. He is the husband of Mary, and she is the Mother of Jesus; he is, in a sense we shall have to explain, authentically father of the Son of God; he is guardian and protector of the Holy Family, which is an image and epitome of the world-wide Church.  These are the truths that have got to be investigated in depth if Joseph is to be given proper place in the economy of salvation.”

It is clear that the theology of St. Joseph is a sub-division of the theology of Our Lady and Mariology in its turn a part of the treatise on Christ incarnate. As Fr. Rondet notes that these three facts are then the foci of the whole theology of St. Joseph. That theology has to penetrate further the meaning and implications of a marriage which was both virginal and fruitful.  It has to seek to understand a fatherhood which, in the absence of its physical and biological presuppositions, was none the less a true one, showing itself in Joseph’s role in the education of the divine Child, in an intimacy of life and affection with Him equalled or surpassed by none except His Mother.  It should endeavour to express all that ‘Jesus owed to St. Joseph’.  It must evaluate what sanctify (greater no doubt than that of any other Saint) lay hidden under his deliberate self effacement, what a singular gift of virginity he was given for his role with Mary, the virgin Mother of God-a gift which pious legend has tended to rest when presenting him as an old man, ‘guardian of the Virgin’ rather than her ‘lawful husband’ (S. Thomas). As the providential guardian of the Holy Family, he is at once the protector of the church, the world-wide extension of that family, yet his role is different from that of the apostles, Prophets and doctors. This patronage over the universal church should also provoke a topical interest today as the church is badly in need of his aid.

Fr. Therasian Babu