Feast of St. Joseph in the Spirit of Opus Dei: March 19

On March 19, 1968, St. Josemaria asked how the feast of St. Joseph could ‘have taken such deep root in the Work when it is a relatively recent devotion, having begun to flourish in the West only about the sixteenth century? Response: “I would reply that our affection , piety, and devotion for St. Joseph is a consequence of our contemplative life. All of us in the Work try to be very close to Jesus and to our Lady; and we cannot be on intimate terms with our Lord and his Mother… unless we are very familiar also with the holy Patriarch who was the head of the Family of Nazareth.”

In a word, the spirit of Opus Dei is a living intimate experience of the Son of God become man. John Paul was clear that God can be the object of experience, not in an empirical way as through the external senses, or even the internal senses. But we experience Him when we experience ourselves as acting persons, and this because we are God’s image and likeness.

The two persons who have a direct causal relationship to the divine Person of Jesus Christ as St. Joseph and the Virgin. Consider that both Our Lady and St. Joseph made such acts of faith at the announcement of the angel to each of them, that she is declared the Mother of God (and so she is: Council of Ephesus 431 [Theotokos]), and he, the presumed Father (“Pepe:” [in Spanish], Padre putative as sensus fidelium).

Let it be clear: The act of faith is an action of the whole self analogous to the conjugal act in the act of intercourse. Conjugal sex and the act of faith as total self gift are anthropologically equivalent. Dei Verbum #5 of Vatican II says: “’The obedience of faith’ (Rom. 13, 26; 2 Cor. 10, 5-6)  is  to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and  freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him”[1] John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos says: “Now at the beginning of this pilgrimage, the faith of Mary meets the faith of Joseph. If Elizabeth said of the Redeemer’s Mother, ‘blessed is she who believed,’ in a certain sense this blessedness can be referred to Joseph as well, since he responded positively to the word of God when it was communicated to him at the decisive moment. While it is true that Joseph did not respond to the angel’s ‘announcement’ in the same way as Mary, he ‘did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife.’ What he did is the clearest ‘obedience of faith’ (cf. Rom. 1, 5; 16, 26; 2 Cor. 10, 5-6).

“One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary.  He accepted as truth coming from God the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation. The Council teaches: “The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as he reveals himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation give by him.’” This statement which touches the very essence of faith, is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.”[2]

The logic of my offering here is the likeness between the mutual self-giving in the conjugal union that engenders a child and the self-gifts of the acts of faith in Joseph and the Virgin. Since Joseph “did” when asked to take Mary as  wife and what the Virgin “did” at the Annunciation,  are respectively total self-gifts pre-eminently in engendering the God-man Christ analogous to the conjugal engendering of a child.

The point that Escriva makes is this experiential proximity of the Virgin and Joseph to the Person of Jesus Christ, not only externally, but in the divinization Christ-likeness) of their personas in full obediential belief, and hence the enormous attention and devotion given to Joseph in Opus Dei, which is totally centered on the Person of Jesus Christ. Basically, we have to do what the Virgin and St. Joseph :did” and so fulfill in ourselves our becoming mother and father of Jesus Christ.

Opus Dei prays daily: Fecit te Deus quasi Paterm Regis, et dominum universae doms eius, ora pro nobis. The entire ascetical orientation of Opus Dei is to be “an other Christ, Christ Himself,” and this in ordinary work and family life.

Conclusion: As Our Lady and St. Joseph entered the engendering  of Christ by the living faith of self-gift, so in our time now in the world. must we engender Christ not as Pelagians, but as sons of the Father. Christ wants to be reborn in our totality which includes secular, professional and family life. Only if we are in the world and other Christs by the living faith of self-gift, will the Kingdom of God become a reality. Maranatha!

[1] Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) #5. Vatican II.

[2] “Redemptoris Custos”4.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s