Men described as the strong silent type have a role model in St. Joseph, sometimes referred to as “Joseph the Silent.”
“The Gospels tell us very little about St. Joseph and that little in very few words,” wrote French Dominican priest and Scripture scholar, Father Michel Gasnier, in his book titled “Joseph the Silent.”
“Suddenly he appears. Nothing has been said of his birth, his early life. His death is not mentioned,” Father Gasnier wrote. “No words of his are recorded.”
It would be a mistake, however, to measure the greatness of the role Jesus’ earthly father played in salvation history “by the few allusions made to him in the New Testament,” he clarified.
“All the evangelical perfections, admirably balanced” are found in St. Joseph.
Paul Winkler, husband, father of four and founder of Attollo, an apostolate that develops Catholic business leaders in the faith, sees the strong quiet leadership of St. Joseph in many of the principles he teaches.
Adjust to setbacks
St. Joseph readily accepted variables that threw off his original plan.
“Can you imagine the day before Mary got back?” Winkler said, reflecting on the Blessed Mother’s return from visiting her cousin Elizabeth. “He’s in love, he’s happily making a new home in anticipation of Mary coming back, he’s making furniture (and thinking) ‘This is the best thing ever.’”
Then when she arrives home, he realizes she’s pregnant.
“OK, now he needed to adjust the plan,” Winkler said, a concept he teaches Attollo participants.
As relayed in the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph adjusted by resolving to divorce Mary quietly. Then an angel appeared and told him, “do not fear to take Mary your wife.”
He asked no questions, it was enough that his help had been asked, Father Gasnier wrote.
“The angel opened up his mind in a dream that this was all part of the big plan, part of God’s plan,” Winkler said, “and he accepted it, he adjusted his plan (again).”
“What you see in St. Joseph is complete obedience,” he said, “and a love of God and a love for his spouse.”
Provide and protect
Joseph, as a new husband and adoptive father to Jesus, embraced his role as head of the household.
“St. Joseph was the leader of his family,” said Winkler, also an adoptive father. “He had to learn how to lead.”
When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt and “remain there till I tell you” to escape Herod, “he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt” (Mt 2: 13-15).
“(He must have been thinking) my mother-in law’s going to kill me. I’m taking Mary to Egypt, that at the time was a pretty nasty place, fraught with dangers along the way,” Winkler said. “But one, he listened to God, and two, he trusted in the Lord.”
He always listened, always obeyed, Father Gasnier wrote.
“He did not know where God would lead him; it was enough that God knew,” he shared. “He did not argue; he did not look back; he did not object; he did not ask for explanation.”
The Blessed Mother understood his role as well.
“She trusted in the Lord,” Winkler said, “and trusted in her husband to provide and protect her.”
Walk the walk
St. Joseph’s actions showed his character and strength as a humble leader.
In all the strange situations God placed him in, he remained calm and silent, according to Father Gasnier.
“He knew the Father had confided a secret in trust to him…,” he wrote. “He did not want anyone who saw him to think him other than a simple workman trying to earn his daily bread.”
That fidelity and humility is a model for Christian men.
“The universal vocation—to know, love and serve God—and the primary vocation of marriage, and even his secondary vocation from 9 to 5 as a carpenter, he did them all perfectly,” Winkler said.
“What a great man to emulate,” he added. “It’s a brave thing to want to be like St. Joseph.”
> St. Joseph
The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph | Solemnity: March 19
Patronage: universal Church, families, fathers, expectant women, workers, craftsmen, happy death, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers
> Novena to St. Joseph
March 11-March 19 | www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/novena/joseph.htm
“I do not remember ever having asked anything of St. Joseph that he did not grant me, nor can I think without wonder of the graces God has given me through his intercession, nor of the dangers of soul or body from which he has delivered me.” —St. Teresa of Avila
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