CNA Staff, Mar 16, 2021 / 05:00 am
St. Joseph does not have any words recorded in Sacred Scripture, but the published meditations of an 18th-century Italian nun offer the chance to imagine the details of the Holy Family’s daily life as it might have been from the perspective of the foster father of Jesus.
Servant of God Mother Maria Cecilia Baij’s personal revelation, described in the book “The Life of Saint Joseph,” provides an intimate portrait of the life of prayer, suffering, and joy within the Holy Family.
As an artist might fill in the details in a painting depicting a scene in the life of Christ from the Bible, Baij’s account allows the reader to dwell on the scenes that could have made up Joseph’s life with Jesus and Mary, with a particular focus on his interior life.
It begins with the birth of Joseph and provides a 75-page account of his life before meeting Mary, with a focus on how God prepared him with graces for the privilege of meeting the future Mother of God.
From there, the reader accompanies Joseph as he exults in the Incarnation within Mary’s womb, endures trials on the way to Bethlehem, weeps for joy as he holds the Savior of the world in his arms, sings hymns of praise to God with Mary, works with the child Jesus in his workshop, and continually abandons himself to the will of God in the face of uncertainties.
While the Church does not consider it obligatory to believe private revelations as a matter of faith, the book has received an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat from the Vatican officially declaring it free from doctrinal and moral error.
Pascal Parente, a professor at the Catholic University of America, translated the 18th-century manuscript into English.
“The account of St. Joseph’s life … was not intended essentially to provide exegetical or historical instruction but rather to serve as a means of edification,” Parente, who died in 1971, wrote in his introduction to the text.