Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: Go to Joseph!

After our "year of Job and Lamentations" (when we spent a full year trying to sell the house in Denver while living in Virginia and trying to buy a house here), I have found a new love and devotion to St. Joseph!  This is the go-to guy for all things impossible and necessary; he is the saint that is second only to Mary in the panoply of Catholic saints; this guy is good!

Well, when I saw a new book on the review shelf for the Catholic Company called Go to Joseph, I knew I had to read it.  And, boy am I glad I did!

Written by a Joseph-devotee and scholar, Fr. Richard Gilsdorf (1930-2005), this book is a very readable but scholarly book on all the things that make Joseph the "go-to saint".  Fr. Gilsdorf quotes scripture -- what little there is that mentions the head of the Holy Family; he synthesizes papal documents like encyclicals and apostolic letters; he summarizes other theologians' writings about St. Joseph. 

And, even with all this heavy scholarly writing, Fr. Gilsdorf imbues his writing with a sense of the love the author feels for the subject; a love that is a reflection of what St. Joseph must have felt for Mary and Jesus. 

Fr. Gilsdorf explains that in Joseph's life with the Holy Family, we can see his work and intercessory powers for us now (pg 69):
  1. he provides for us by answering the prayers of the faithful with powerful intercession
  2. he governs us for Christ has made him "Lord of His house and ruler of His possessions"
  3. he cherishes us as he loved Mary and Jesus
  4. he protects us under his title of "Protector and Defender of Holy Mother Church"
I particularly like how Fr. Gilsdorf explains the importance of the lack of detailed information about Joseph in the Bible and other early Church writings: 
We must understand there is a reason the Holy Spirit in His infinite wisdom has told us only so much and no more.  One obvious reason is that by limiting the information, all persons of all paces and times can apply the basic facts to their own individual lives .... Thus, families of all ages can more readily imitate the essentional virtues of the Holy Family.  Married couples can emulate the holy bond of Mary and Joseph ... Joseph, the just man, can be an example for all the faithful, but he serves in a special way as model for young men to answer God's challenge in all walks of life.  He can be the stron patron and intercessor of workers and family providers.  He can be a special patron of preiests married to the Church ..." (pg 101)
The appendices are well-worth perusing and using -- bibliography of other scholarly works and Church writings about St. Joseph, prayers written to St. Joseph (including the Litany to St. Joseph and one written by Blessed John XXIII) , and the homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI for the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2009.

Don't let this small (only four-by-six, 134 pages) volume fool you ... this is one of those books that I'll be constantly delving into when I need a boost, when I need to remember just how much St. Joseph has done for the Holy Family, Holy Mother Church, and me and mine.  This is a book to leave on the bedside table, in my purse, or on my desk for reference.  Yes, it's that good!

So "Go to Joseph" with whatever you need ... and he will intercede to God for you and yours!  And read the book if you want to know more about this quiet head of the Holy Family.

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This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Go To Joseph.

Gilsdorf, Fr. Richard W. (edited by Patrick F. Beno) -- Go to Joseph.  Star of the Bay Press (Green Bay, WI).  2009.  ISBN:978-0692-003-008.  paperback (134 pages). 

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