Men need St. Joseph. Women also need St. Joseph, but we live in a time when men are under constant attack. Masculinity is repeatedly labeled as toxic, misogynistic, and aggressive. Men are told they must either become more like women or sit down and be quiet. They are mocked and berated. For decades, we have seen men portrayed by Hollywood as children in need of mothering from domineering women who “know” better.
We ourselves within the Church have absorbed and even accepted many of the lies our culture tells us about men. Within our parishes, men and women are pitted against one another in power struggles or offered sentimental versions of the Faith, which has led many men to disengage. Women complain that they don’t have enough of a role in the Church, and yet, it is women who dominate most parish staffs and ministries. Men have taken a backseat within our ranks lest we seem to be sexist. At times, the priesthood gives into societal pressure since they don’t want to be seen as a part of the corrupt patriarchy our culture is constantly telling us exists, especially within the Catholic Church.
After decades of attacks on men and masculinity, the Church has declared a Year of St. Joseph. A year to celebrate a man, the holiest of men, who was the earthly father of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the husband of the most perfect woman to ever life, Our Blessed Mother. The Holy Spirit is guiding the Church through the stormy seas of our present age, and Our Lord has asked us to turn to his foster-father as a guide. This is especially true of men. Now is the time to reclaim authentic masculinity.
We need men to rise up and embrace their God-given masculinity. To lead with a manly heart burning with the zeal and love of God that will help transform our families, our parishes, the Church, and the world. This is not an easy task in a time when so many men come from broken homes and who have been taught their entire lives that their masculinity is a threat, as opposed to a tremendous gift from God given for humanity’s sake.
St. Joseph is the saint to lead men on the path to holiness and into an authentic masculinity that enters into the depths of the Most Sacred Heart. Men devoted to prayer, hard work, sacrifice, spiritual warfare, truth, love, and the deep desire to lead souls to Christ. St. Joseph is not only the intercessor men need within family life, he is the masculine saint our priests need to lead as spiritual fathers called to lay down their lives for the Church.
How do men come to a deeper understanding and filial love for a man who said absolutely nothing in Sacred Scripture? As Fr. Calloway tapped into in his book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, men can come to know St. Joseph through his titles, as well as in how he acted in Sacred Scripture. In looking at the titles the Church has given to St. Joseph, men can meditate on the virtues and masculinity St. Joseph lived as the head of the Holy Family.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Noble Offspring of David, pray for us.
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-Father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Zealous Defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
This first section listing St. Joseph’s titles in the Litany of St. Joseph, tells us something crucial about St. Joseph. His entire identity was rooted in Christ, salvation history, and Our Blessed Mother. He was first and foremost a man of God. Authentic masculinity—as well as authentic femininity—can only be lived in relation to God. It is through our profound union with God that He can transform men into the holy men we need.
A man who does not have God at the dead center of his life will not be able to live his vocation fully. Our culture is divorced from a properly ordered understanding of masculinity because it has abandoned God. Once we are cut off from God, the understanding of man and woman becomes disconnected as well. Catholic men must be men of prayer, penance, and a desire to follow God’s will at all costs.
We can also see that St. Joseph’s masculinity was fully realized in relation to Our Blessed Mother. In Mulieris Dignitatem, St. John Paul II explained how women draw masculinity out of men and help them to live their vocations. St. Joseph’s manhood was perfected through his intimate spiritual union in marriage with Mary. This is also why priests need Our Blessed Mother, as well as holy women united to her, to draw out their masculinity in a profound and beautiful way. Masculinity is always lived in relation to femininity—spiritually and/or naturally—but it should never become effeminate. The same is true for women in relation to masculinity.
St. Joseph is a defender and protector of the Holy Family. These attributes of masculinity are very often under attack. From a man simply holding a door for a woman to the men who run into save others, men are accused of being aggressive because of their God-given drive to defend and protect others. Regardless of what our culture tells us, men are meant to defend and protect. The titles go on in the Litany:
Joseph Most Just, pray for us.
Joseph most Chaste, pray for us.
Joseph Most Prudent, pray for us.
Joseph Most Courageous, pray for us.
Joseph Most Obedient, pray for us.
Joseph Most Faithful, pray for us.
This next section lists virtues St. Joseph emulated throughout his life. He was just, chaste, prudent, courageous, obedient, and faithful. Men are called to be strong and gentle, pure and passionate, humble and courageous, and to submit always to God’s will in faith. Masculinity is not simply either/or. A father has to be both firm and gentle with his children at times. Men must defend the truth courageously, but do so in a loving way that is a reflection of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Joseph helps men live this both/and aspect of masculinity that has become blurred in our culture.
The last titles in the Litany are reflections of a life of Christian discipleship and how St. Joseph leads men to holier lives lived in union with the Most Holy Trinity and in the service of others.
Mirror of Patience, pray for us.
Lover of Poverty, pray for us.
Model of Workmen, pray for us.
Glory of Domestic Life, pray for us.
Guardian of Virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of Families, pray for us.
Comfort of the Afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the Sick, pray for us.
Patron of the Dying, pray for us.
Terror of Demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.
St. Joseph shows men how to be providers by holding up both work and family life in his person. He is a man of patience and poverty in an age of materialism and excess. He leads men back to their true center through a life of simple dedication to their families, communities, and serving God in every moment of the day.
St. Joseph is also present to those men who carry the heavy Cross of chronic illness, suffering, and affliction or who walk with those who are sick. He is there at the moment of death when the Enemy seeks to take souls away from Christ through fear and despair. In other words, St. Joseph is a loving spiritual father who is with men at every stage of life and who teaches men how to be present to those in their lives who are suffering.
One of his titles that is fitting for our times is Terror of Demons. We are at war. We are engaged in a spiritual war and the souls of our families, parishes, and our nations are under attack. Men fight and defend in battle. It is one of the awesome and difficult responsibilities of men in this life to wage war when necessary. In the spiritual life, it is always necessary and we need men in our families and our priests calling us to fight for the salvation of souls. St. Joseph will lead men to fight the spiritual battles that will win souls for Christ.
Men truly need St. Joseph. In this time of virulent attack on men, we women need to be leading the men in our lives—husbands, brothers, priests, friends, brothers in Christ—to St. Joseph and to embrace their masculinity. We cannot continue to engage in the disordered power struggles that are celebrated in our culture. We must seek to live our God-given masculinity and femininity side-by-side in order to reveal to the world the complementarity of the sexes, not just in marriage, but as human beings. St. Joseph, ora pro nobis.
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