This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19 - Feast of St. Joseph

The Gospels don't say a lot about Joseph, the husband of Mary and (step-)father of Jesus. Only two mention him and he doesn't get much ink in either. A genealogy traces his family back to the House of David. There is the famous quandary about what to do with his pregnant fiancee. The most obvious choices were to quietly send her back or to publicly send her back; the latter would have resulted in her being stoned to death on her dad's doorstep.

A dream tips him off to the divine inception (not the same as the Immaculate Conception) so he settles down with Mary until the census that lands them in a Bethlehem stable for the birth. He has a couple more prognostications through dreams -- one to go to Egypt to escape Herod's slaughter of innocents, and another to head back to Nazareth when it is safe.

There's a reference to Jesus' brothers, but since Mary was later determined to be Ever Virgin, they figure Joseph must be much older, with children from the first marriage. I prefer the stories that Judas Thomas Didymus is Jesus' twin brother, son of Joseph, but I know they are non-canonical so I won't endorse them. I just think they're fun.

Joseph is obviously a paternal role model, even if it did take a day before he and Mary noticed that Jesus had hung back when the caravan left so he could question the rabbis and scholars at the Temple. Still, by all accounts, he was a pious guy who did the right thing.

Some random things about St. Joseph.

I teach a course at St. Joseph's College of Maine in Standish. They are the Monks. I think that's strange because they are run by the Sisters of Mercy and the student body is more than 50% female. I can see that they wouldn't be the nuns, but monks? How about Carpenters? It's too late to do anything about it now, but they might have thought that one through a little better back in the day.

I was going to put in an NCAA basketball bracket that advanced Catholic schools. I looked it over and didn't see St. Joseph's so I took a pass. I think I had been planning for St. John's to go all the way. That's five bucks saved.

Somebody wrote an interview with St. Joseph and posted it on the web. You can see it here. They identify him as Joseph Davidson, but of course the tradition was that he would be known by the name of his immediate father; the family name is a much more Roman thing. Matthew's Gospel opens with Jesus' genealogy, and notes that Joseph's father is Jacob. So Joseph Jacobson would have been more appropriate.

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