Message of Fr. General on the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph


Prot. CG 34/2024

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.

In the middle of the Lenten desert, as if it were an oasis, the figure of the Patriarch Joseph, special protector of the Order, emerges discreetly. “His cult and devotion,  our Constitutions say, is part of the Augustinian Recollect spirituality” (OAR Const., 80).

In this year in which we reflect in the Order on small things, it is not difficult to find in Joseph many traits that show that his personality is forged and shaped by small things. Small, but not for that reason less important; I would even dare to say small, but essential and necessary. I focus on three: silence, discretion and obedience.

Silence is a virtue little or not at all valued in our days, even when we come across a silent person, the first thing we do is to ask him directly or his acquaintances if something is wrong, because in our society there is no place for silence. Silence is not understood. We like noise and making noise, we like to talk, even if we don’t have much to say, we like to talk, even if we don’t enrich the others. Of Joseph we do not keep a single word, but his life, his attitudes and his behaviour say it all. I would dare to say that we are words, poor shipwrecked in a sea of words.  We talk a lot, but our lives say little. Joseph, on the other hand, speaks nothing, but his life says it all. His life tells us that he is a man who knows how to listen to God and to men. His life tells us that he is a man obedient to God’s will and that he acts with total readiness and availability to do what God asks of him.

He is a man who works and earns his bread as a carpenter, with the effort and sweat of his brow; a man who takes care of his family and guards them from all dangers; a man who renounces his homeland and lives in itinerancy to save his little one and protect his family.

Joseph’s silence is a respectful silence at the service of listening, a silence that helps us to look inward to meditate and to get to know the will of God. Pope Benedict XVI said “let us allow ourselves to be invaded by the silence of St. Joseph, the noise prevents us from hearing or perceiving the great truths of life”.

St. Joseph is also the man of discretion, another of those virtues that is not fashionable in our society. If they would be selling discretion in stores, it would probably expire on the shelves, or if it were a perishable product it would decay. There is no demand in the market for discretion and there is no supply good enough to sell it. We don’t even want it for free. Generally, discretion is the fruit of spiritual maturity,

which the patriarch Joseph evidently had. It is enough to observe how he handled the situation of Mary’s pregnancy: no scandals and fuss, no exposing her to public scorn and leaving her in a bad place, there is no need for that. To fulfill the law? Yes, but in secret and without publicity. Our society loves media’s noise, it loves spectacle and taking things out of context, we love criticism, discrediting and moral outrage, above respect for the dignity of persons.

Joseph did not use discretion only in the matter of his wife’s pregnancy, but it was an attitude of life in all the moments of his history. Joseph decided to live his whole life in the shadows, in a discreet place and to give Mary all the prominence she deserved. Joseph’s presence in the Holy Family gave an air of normality to a totally anomalous situation: Mary was his wife, but Joseph knew that she belonged entirely to God; Jesus calls him father, but he knows very well that he had nothing to do with her conception, and he was not even allowed to choose his name. The family of Nazareth looks like a normal family of humble and hardworking people, law-abiding: they circumcise the child, present him at the temple, go to the synagogue, make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, work in a carpenter’s shop… a normal family, but totally special because it has been entirely shaped by God. Joseph teaches us to be discreet, and to wait for God’s times in silence.

The third virtue I would like to highlight in St. Joseph is that of obedience. Normally we use obedience as a limiting resource for extreme situations where we have to assume decisions that are external to us and that go against our desire or will. Indeed, in Joseph obedience is also an attitude of life, which is lived in the little things of every day, and it should also be that way for us, especially for religious.

Joseph’s obedience is based on a total trust in God, it is an obedience that does not seek many explanations, nor does it try to rationalize everything. In Joseph’s life there were no “buts” or “whys”. Joseph trusts God and knows very well in whom he has placed his trust. As a matter of fact, failures in obedience often expose our lack of faith.

To obey is much more than an extreme resource for extreme situations. Obedience is living open to God’s plans and to the needs of men; it is knowing how to remove oneself from the centre and to step aside; it is living by faith; it is dying to oneself and putting what is common before one’s own; it is docility to what God manifests to us through normal mediations; it is renouncing to have to understand everything and to want to have everything very clear, abandoning oneself to God, who knows what we do not know. It is to understand that God’s vision is always broader than ours.

In short, Joseph’s life tells us that it is not so important to do “great things” but to do well the task that has been assigned to us.

And since the whole world looks at you and wonders, tell how it is to be holy and carpenter, glory and wood, grace and eagerness, to have mercy on God and scarcity of bread” (Hymn of Vespers).

May the Lord bless you with his peace. Rome, March 17, 2024.

Fr. Miguel Ángel Hernández Domínguez
Prior General  

Fr. Luciano M. Audisio
General Secretary

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