The Importance of Knowing St. Joseph | Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. | The Introduction to The Mystery of Joseph by Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P. | Ignatius Insight
The publication of this serious, even profound study of a person intimately joined to the life of the Messiah and written by one of the most respected figures in our contemporary Catholic scene should cause serious attention to be paid to the often neglected figure of Saint Joseph.
Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P., an important French theologian who died only in 2006, was a man whose thought was of great influence and depth. He was also a man greatly devoted to the Church who founded the Community of Saint John. This new community is now recognized in several countries as a very successful attempt to restore a vibrant spirituality to the religious life, which in many places has seemed moribund for years.
The Brothers and Sisters of Saint John are a cause of hope to those who look ahead to the restoration of the authentic and powerful traditions of the religious life that have gotten lost in recent times. The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal have welcomed them with joy.
Father Philippe's book on Saint Joseph is very consistent with the new biblical theology called for by Pope Benedict XVI. The author very impressively examines the sparse facts that we have concerning the life of Saint Joseph, teasing from them material that connects easily and well with a very impressive structure of theological teaching. This then becomes a means of providing a firm foundation for devotion to the Foster Father and Guardian of the Son of God.
Except for Christ and Saint Paul, New Testament figures attract little attention from the secular world and especially the secular media – even when they are in a kindly mood. Occasionally a small amount of attention is shown to the figure of the Blessed Mother but rarely is Saint Joseph or any of the Apostles mentioned. Even in cities named Saint Joseph or San José are the inhabitants really conscious of the fact that their hometown is actually named for a person – a person who played a role of immense importance in God's plan of redemption for humankind. This apparent obscurity finds at its root a kind of Protestantism that is focused intensely on the figure Christ and on the writings of Saint Paul, but which seems barely acquainted with Saint Joseph and even the Mother of God, herself.
Catholic theology, which takes a less constricted view of such things, opened up a world of devotion to Saint Joseph the humble carpenter of Nazareth as well as to the Mother of God. How could it be otherwise? These are the figures who stood at the manger on the first Christmas; they are the ones to whom the care of the Word Incarnate was entrusted by God.