Bona dies Sancti Josephi festa vobis! Today happens to be my name day, and I have always felt a special devotion of St. Joseph. I have admired his silence, courage, and strict adherence to God’s will. Saints throughout the ages have remarked on St. Joseph’s perfect soldierly obedience.
Speaking of soldiers, St. Joseph, along with St. Michael, are often invoked for protection against the evil one. One terrible thing about modernity is that it has downplayed or altogether scoffed at the notion of a rich and varied spiritual world. I remember hearing a homily from one priest who found himself chagrined to speak at the feast of the holy angels, because he did not believe in them. However, studying the scriptures and various theological texts in preparation for the homily convinced him he had been in the wrong.
But, here’s the problem with not believing the devil’s existence: he can lie without detection. People become brainwashed more easy. It is much easier to escape brainwashing when we perceive the propagandist. Then, we can pour out contempt on the propagandist and more easily disdain his efforts. What if we don’t perceive the propagandist and become convinced that his thoughts are actually our own? Then, we couple this thought with the idea that God is somehow responsible for these thoughts? That God does not wish to deliver us from melancholy, depression, lack of faith, or any of the very common mental maladies of this age?
The devil lacks originality–utterly so. The devil’s lies are all the same whether one is in the third century or the third millennium: “God is just, but not merciful! If you think Him merciful, then you hold him in contempt. Your sins are going to drag you down to hell–no help for it. God despises you. God hates you. Religion’s just for old people and women. Heaven is deaf to your prayers. Nothing matters. If there was a God, why are so many people suffering? Why are you suffering so uselessly?”
We see these same ideas in nihilistic and post-modern literature. Even C. S. Lewis while an atheist wrote about how hateful the universe seemed in Spirits in Bondage–the first of Lewis’s works to enter the public domain. Lewis claimed that these poems were “mainly strung around the idea that I mentioned to you before–that nature is wholly diabolical & malevolent and that God, if he exists, is outside of and in opposition to the cosmic arrangements.” That this came from the pen of the person who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity seems shocking! But, I think that C. S. Lewis had an inkling of what might be going on: Satan is the poem’s first speaker.
So, I would propose St. Joseph as a good friend to have, especially when thoughts against faith or the goodness of God attack us. We have many friends in heaven, both saints and angels in addition to our Greatest Friend God, who never leaves us nor ceases to draw us into His Fatherly embrace.